Schools - System Thinking

Why is it important to see your school as an eco-system?

Systems thinking is about understanding the whole of an organization, as opposed to viewing it through the lens of its constituent parts. Associated terms used by the IB are 'eco-system', 'sense-making' and 'adaptive organizations' (see endnote). A simple analogy is to see the system as the completed jigsaw.

The new Heads of School and Leading the Learners workshops - which replaced Administrators and Coordinators workshops in 2020 - have as their key focus to immerse participants into the IB ecosystem and to reflect on their own individual school as itself an ecosystem.

"I consider it impossible to know the parts without knowing the whole, or to know the whole without knowing the parts." (Pascal - cited in E.Morrin, 1999, Organization and complexity)

"The systems concept cannot be over-stated.  A school community/system is truly one where plucking a string in one area reverberates across a variety of other locations.  It is critically important then that the school guiding documents truly guide, are not merely wall decorations and are brought to life.  Turning these two-dimensional documents into three-dimensional success requires creation of a compelling vision, well-articulated goals, carefully defined evidence to chart success towards goals, differentiated support and a recognition that less is often more – clear out the old stuff before topping up with the new." (Jason Crook, IB Coordinator in an IB workshop on Leading the learning).

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