Systems Thinking Post

Part I

  • Interdependence: The relationship, dependence, and connectedness of different systems on each other
    • Ukweli relies on Hassan to accomplish his mission of distributing test strips and collecting data to ultimately reduce maternal mortality in Sierra Leone, and Hassan relies on Ukweli to get paid.
    • The Malnutrition team relied on Bettah bakery for baking space, while Bettah bakery relied on us for business knowledge and help to grow.
  • Holism: Individual parts are dependent on each other and produce more value together than they would on their own
    • The Malnutrition team has many bioengineers that have taken similar classes, but when put together, they know more than what they know themselves
    • The Sickle Cell (SC) Screening team needs to pair their final test strip with a treatment program. Without the treatment program, the knowledge from the test strip (positive for SC or negative for SC) is useless because medication/treatment is necessary. 
  • Multi-finality: Achieving different outcomes from the same original process, “win-win for everyone” 
    • The network we have formed in GSIF has our own goals for our own projects, but overall, GSIF wants to find sustainable solutions to health and development problems in Sierra Leone
    • Mushrooms team creates income for Jawara and rice farmers and addresses issues of nutrition in poor communities.
  • Equifinality: There are many approaches that can be taken to reach the same goal
    • There are several different recipes that the Malnutrition team can use to lower child malnutrition rates in Sierra Leone
    • There are many different aspects (travel to clinics, light in birthing rooms, ANC days)  of maternal healthcare that can be focused on by the Safe Motherhood Documentary in order to reduce material death/improve maternal healthcare. 
  • Differentiation: Within a given system, specific and unique parts are performing specific functions distinct from one another.
    • In the Ukweli operation, Wancheng is responsible for shipping the test trips to Freetown, Allieu is responsible for getting them to Makeni and Hassan is in charge of getting the strips to the clinics and CHWs. Each needs the other in the larger operation to function, but each is also its own subsystem.
    • For all teams we must be able to balance and divide our personal and professional relationships. We have to be able to disagree, agree, and build off of each others ideas in order to make progress as a group. 
  • Regulation: Making sure that intentions and actions match up with each other.
    • The Malnutrition team will be having clinical trials to make sure that we are actually reducing child malnutrition the way we say we are
    • The Sickle Cell group will be running many confirmatory tests, including a clinical trial (with a verification test, the gold standard), in order to insure the test strip is able to diagnose Sickle Cell Disease with a certain level of accuracy.
  • Abstraction: viewing a system from a birds eye view approach, thinking through complex scenarios with a level of higher context and in broader terms
    • Thinking of the Ukweli operation through a context of the larger Ministry of Health perspective and what they need and deal with at a nationwide perspective
    • Expanding projects to multiple countries eg. whatever Khanjan is doing in Liberia and Madagascar
  • Leverage Points: A small area within a given system where a small change can be made in order to produce big change.
    • CHWs are an easily accessible and effective part of the healthcare system
    • By charging a fee (~$5) to mothers giving birth at home, mothers will go to the clinic saving many lives.
    • A small change in the Malnutrition team’s product can make a huge change in the effectivity of our product.

Part 2: Emergence 

Explanation: Emergence is the process of an entity coming into view. When the parts together have different properties/behaviors than they do alone the entity is able to emerge.

Example: An emergent system that creates sustainable and scalable social value are social movements. The social movement “Black Lives Matter” is sustained by the people that support it however the movement is not owned by the people. These are the two parts (idea and people) that come together to emerge.

Part 3: The solution to water hyacinth

Processing Side 

  1. Employ community to gather hyacinth and pay for the supply by the kilo

Marketing Side (BEST SOLUTION – explained below)

  1. Partner with the fishermen to sell the briquettes with the fish (need the briquette to cook the fish), they can make money and will help the entrepreneur collect the hyacinth. Only fisherman that want to be involved will be hired/become a partner. The other fisherman who aren’t involved originally will feel like they are missing out once they see the success of the original fisherman and will then want to join the venture. 


  1. Sell briquettes to community
  2. Partner with a certain group of fishermen, in a certain area and provide discounted or free briquettes.


The marking side solution, to partner with the fishermen and have them trade hyacinth for briquettes to sell with their fish is a solution that exhibits tenets of multi-finality, holism and regulation. With the fishermen and the briquette venture working together both entities are improving. The fishermen are able to increase their income by minimally increasing/or not at all, their workload by providing hyacinth (collecting – which they may already do in order to travel in their boats) in exchange for briquettes that can be sold along with their fish, increasing the purchase value. The briquette venture is able to obtain a consistent source of hyacinth by only providing a fraction of the product back to the suppliers. The main fraction of the product is revenue for the briquette venture. These two entities (fisherman and briquette venture) are working together in order to benefit themselves in very different ways (multi-finality). Without each other the two entities would most likely be successful but not to the extent they will be together (holism). If one of the entities are not happy with their benefits/outcomes they are free to disengage from the partnership. The briquette venture will provide the appropriate number of briquettes for the amount of hyacinth brought in therefore, the fisherman determine how many briquettes they receive (regulation).