Systems Aikido is the principle of working with the innate forces of a system - looking at the underlying dynamics to see where the potential for change is. Trying to change a system when it is in a strong negative feedback regime is like doing Karate, it requires huge amounts of resources. To be strategic in our systems change initiative we have to wait and look for where the destabilizing positive feedback - the broken feedback loops - are and then work with that to build structures that can channel it in new ways. This canvas is designed to help us start to identify these broken feedback loops and think about how to work to reconnect them - to reduce the externalities and bring the system to a new equilibrium.
This canvas is designed to help you start to think about and map out the different levels of abstraction to the system you are dealing with - from the observable events to underlying patterns that generate these, to the supporting structure and ultimately the mental models used by an organization. We first map the existing system on these different levels and then progress to identify possible new models, structures, patterns, and events that we would wish to see in the future system.
This canvas is design as a template for running a workshop or lab session whose focus is shifting members thinking from "ego-system" thinking to "eco-system" thinking. The aim is for us to try and reveal participants' underlying paradigm and mental models that form a self-centered view of the world. This can then form the basis for exploring how they may see through different perspectives to become more aware of the system as a whole, independent of their place in it.
This canvas is inspired by the work of Orit Gal who talks about systems acupuncture as working by analyzing existing flows across a certain ecology. The aim is to then design actions that make small accumulative interventions to strengthen or disrupt a given pattern. The idea behind this is that over time the dominant paradigm we aim to disrupt will be gradually undermined and subverted so that the system will gain the needed momentum to tip into a new basin of attraction - the emergence of new functionality and a new equilibrium state of behavior.