9-11 May 2018

thestudio, Manchester

Systems thinking simulation - who's dropped the ball?

Session type:

Session duration:
90 minutes

Presented by:

Willem van den Ende


Marc Evers


About this Tutorial

In our roles as mentors, product owners and developers, we have noticed that changing your software development method changes your organisation.

We have run into questions like:

  • Why can't the customer keep up with the programmers and what can be done about it?
  • How can we get a team to start unit testing?
  • Is the lack of unit testing really the team’s biggest problem?
  • What are the underlying dynamics of adding people to a development effort?

We have found that systems thinking is a simple but powerful technique for finding answers to these questions. It is a way of seeing organisations, projects and teams as systems consisting of interrelated and interacting parts.

Systems thinking focuses on relationships and on the whole, instead of focusing on the parts in isolation. It helps to identify self-reinforcing feedback loops and not-so-obvious cause-effect relations.

Participants will learn to apply systems thinking, and in particular the Diagram of Effects (or Causal Loop Diagrams) technique. After playing the game, we will show how we used this technique to solve a hard problem we ran into by telling a story about how technical debt was not just technical, building up a diagram in small steps.

Audience: software developers, project leaders, coaches, customers, anybody involved in (IT) projects.

No knowledge or experience in systems thinking is needed.

About the Speakers

Willem van den Ende

Willem van den Ende is a consulting developer, always looking for better and more fun ways to develop software, and helping others do the same. Independent at livingsoftware.co.uk, partner in QWAN.


Marc Evers

Marc Evers works as an independent coach, trainer and advisor on (agile) software development. Marc helps to develop learning organisations to focus on continuous reflection and improvement. Independent at piecemealgrowth.nl and partner in qwan.eu.


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