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Systems Thinking Marin 2017


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This slide deck is an initial draft outlining the mission and objectives of Systems Thinking Marin (as of Autumn 2017), possible projects for realizing that mission, and provides examples of the major systems thinking frameworks that inform the mission and objectives.

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Systems Thinking Marin 2017

  2. 2. WHAT ARE YOU? • A non-profit project, under the umbrella of MarinLink • An initial 2-year scope • Small and agile • Office location: home-based and TBD
  3. 3. WHAT DO YOU DO? • We survey and have dialogues with businesses, nonprofits, local government, and the general public to find out what is working and what isn’t about Marin, what they need, and their ideas for improvement • Then we share and broadcast those findings • We promote the adoption of systems thinking, host trainings, and develop related web-based tools (such as one or more community maps)
  4. 4. WHAT ARE YOUR OBJECTIVES ? 1. To help the Marin system to become (more) conscious of itself (Theory U ref.) 2. To promote great ideas that improve the quality of life for everyone in Marin 3. To raise the level of consciousness in our local system(s) (Theory U ref.)
  5. 5. WHAT IS “THEORY U”?
  6. 6. A COMPREHENSIVE MODEL AND METHOD FOR MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE • Otto Sharmer’s work issues from the Peter Senge / MIT lineage • A systems thinking philosophy and detailed leadership framework that addresses and may potentially inform all areas of human endeavor • They offer trainings globally, in-person and online • A global community of Theory U “hubs” supporting social enterprise
  7. 7. MAJOR TENETS OF THEORY U • “Across the board, we collectively create outcomes that nobody wants. Yet the key decision makers do not feel capable of redirecting this course of events in any significant way. They feel just as trapped as the rest of us…” • “The quality of results (and outcomes) in any kind of system is a function of the quality of awareness (or consciousness) used to perform these actions.” • “The allocation of capital is one of the strongest determinants of what our future society will look like.”
  8. 8. MAJOR TENETS OF THEORY U CONT. • “A true systems philosophy closes the feedback loop between the human being, their experience of reality, and their sense of participation in that whole cycle of awareness and enactment.” – Senge • “Performing with humility, or a selfless self, seems to be a precondition for the collective field to advance to a higher level…not just in the business sector but also in the public (and civic) one.”
  10. 10. FIRST, WE HAVE A NUMBER OF GREAT THINGS GOING FOR US • Residents benefit from access to the outdoors, with 55.6% of land set aside for parks and open space (San Mateo County is next at 38.6% ref) • A 2012 American Human Development Index report showed Marin County’s well-being be one of the highest in the nation, at 7.75, as compared to the state score of 5.54 and U.S. at 5.10 ref.
  11. 11. BUT WE ALSO HAVE SOME CHALLENGES • While individuals living in Ross score a 9.7 on the American Human Development Index, residents of the Canal area of San Rafael score 3.18, below that of West Virginia, the lowest-ranked state in the Index. ref • A consumption-based greenhouse gas inventory published by a UC Berkeley group in 2015 shows some neighborhoods in Marin County to have some of the highest carbon emission in the Bay Area. ref • According to the American Human Development Index report, median personal earnings for Latinos in Marin is $23,800, African Americans $31,608, and Whites $51,000. • According to the Marin County Food System Assessment Project 2012 report, low income neighbors are twice as likely as higher income residents to be obese, leading to greater health challenges and economic hardship. ref • As of 2011, the Self-Sufficiency Standard reveals that a family in Marin County must earn at least $86,629 per year to make ends meet. According to a 2012 report by the Marin County Department of Health & Human Services, a family of four in Marin would require that the two adults each work three full-time minimum wage jobs to meet this minimum. ref
  13. 13. 1. HELP THE SYSTEM TO BECOME CONSCIOUS OF ITSELF We prototype online resources to help the community to “see” itself. A71B-FA24F495E84F [must be copied and pasted] Community Maps Example: What are the top facts about the housing shortage that housing advocates want everyone to know? Community Knowledge Connecting individuals who are passionate about, and committed to, doing things better Community Connections
  14. 14. 2. PROMOTE GREAT IDEAS IN MARIN Video blog profiling systems thinking approaches by individuals and organizations in Marin that are solving sustainability challenges Ecological | Social | Financial Video Our website serves as a promotional platform for a variety of systems thinking educational resources Theory U | Fritjof Capra | Wind Tunneling Website Publicize frameworks and tools for greater sustainability in Marin, from the U.N. to the U.S., to us. Marin Prezi: Frameworks and Tools Vision
  15. 15. 3. RAISE THE LEVEL OF CONSCIOUSNE SS IN OUR LOCAL SYSTEMS Asking and answering the question: Is Marin sustainable? How close are we? Referencing currently available data. Sustainability Convening gatherings of spiritual and religious institutions in Marin to dialogue and raise the profile of contemplative practice as a way to improve community Spirit Promoting scientific literacy education campaigns by science-based groupsScience Running and/or supporting Theory U and other systems thinking workshops and trainings Systems Thinking
  16. 16. WHAT IS YOUR SCOPE? • Marin County • Local and locally-based businesses • Local and locally-based non-profits • Local government • Local ecosystem • Local people
  18. 18. “Institutions rarely cross the boundaries of this issue matrix divide. Each box or field has professional graduate programs, training courses, research programs, funding mechanisms, international gathering of experts, journals, and communities of practice. What is missing is the discourse in between.” Pg. 96
  19. 19. “…no discipline looks at all the variables and dependencies in a truly holistic and integrative way across all levels from micro to mundo…This is a critical blind spot in the social sciences today…” Pg. 339
  20. 20. “What’s missing in today’s capitalism is a set of enabling or mirroring infrastructures that would help systems to sense and see themselves from the whole.” Pg. 245
  21. 21. “When we realize that our habitual way of seeing and acting is not getting us anywhere, we have to bend the beam of our attention back onto its source, back onto the one who is performing the activity. When this shift happens, we begin to attend to the situation from a different place…When we change the way we attend, a different world will come forth.” Pg. 109
  22. 22. “Most cross-institutional change processes fail because they miss the starting point: co-sensing across boundaries. We need infrastructure or holding spaces to facilitate this process across system boundaries.” Pg. 159
  23. 23. “The key to solving many issues lies in focusing on the region.” Pg. 190
  24. 24. “Thus the inner circle, in its fully realized form, could function like a greenhouse for social innovations of the future. It would incubate ideas, intentions, and experimental microcosms that allow future possibilities to emerge…” Pg. 327
  26. 26. FELICIA I CHAVEZ Felicia has been a resident of Marin County since 1995. She completed her B.A in Psychology at Dominican (1999), and a Green MBA (2007). Most recently she has earned a PhD in the humanities. Her dissertation title is Sustainability and Spirituality: Common Threads and Common Threats. Felicia is a sustainability consultant, and is passionate about scientific literacy, direct spiritual experience, and a systems thinking approach to sustainability.
  27. 27. FELICIA I CHAVEZ CONT. Felicia has worked with a variety of for-profit and non-profit entities, and is no stranger to public service. Her experience includes working for the California League of Conservation Voters, serving as the staff representative to the board for two years. From 2002-03 she was the Associate Director of the Marin Cancer Project, working with Judi Shills to establish a 501(c)(3), and to recruit 2,000 volunteers who knocked on 65,000 doors in Marin. She has also worked as a consultant to corporate clients, including Autodesk and Delta Dental, helping them to implement more sustainable practices. Recently, in addition to earning her PhD, Felicia has built websites, including,, and a website for Susan Clark at Common Knowledge, Currently she volunteers with the Marin Equity Coalition, and the Friends Committee on National Legislation.
  28. 28. “To lead profound change is to shift the inner place from which a system operates. This can only be done collaboratively…” Theory U, Pg. 359