Systems Thinking

What is Creativity Creativity – Thinking outside of the box.

-Creativity is the ability to transcend traditional ways of thinking or acting and to develop new and original ideas, methods or objects.

Where does Creativity Happen? 

-When collaboration, isolation, need, not thinking about the problem,

What is Emergence?

-Being the first of a new thing or the sum of several systems, for example, a bird flying

8 Tenets of System Thinking 

Multifinality – The idea that even though all the inputs into different systems are the same, different outcomes will develop. How does it address the needs of several stakeholders?

-For Ukweli, this is almost the base of the operations we are creating. The input is the test strips into the sierra leone healthcare system in order to lower maternal mortality rate but in doing so the CHWs are also given a supplemental income.

-For NewTrition, this is an example of the muffin serving the purpose of helping eliminate malnutrition in children, but also creating a system that can be implemented in various other countries with similar issues.

Equifinality – Given different incomes with the same goal, all end in the same output.

-Equifinality is present in Ukweli’s operations of training different PHUs and different CHWs throughout the Bombali District/SL. The various community health workers/PHUs/Villages that have Ukweli’s Test Strips can potentially be very different inputs, but all of these players are working towards the same goal of using Ukweli’s strips to lower the maternal mortality.

Abstraction – The idea of describing a system in more than one dimension, speaking to the interconnections and interdependence of the system.

-CHWs and NICs and all other health workers do different jobs to work towards the solution of a healthier Sierra Leone

Leverage Points- important points in a system that have a large impact with minimal changes

-Changing the ingredients in the magic muffin can change the nutrient profile along with the flavor. That could affect who buys or who gets the right nutrients

– For NewTrition, changing the branding of the muffin from a “therapeutic food” to just a healthy food allows for us to avoid the stigma attached to it. By just creating healthy food without claims we can easily merge into the current markets.

Regulation – The idea that in order for a system to be successful, it requires feedback in multiple aspects of said system to manage the high points and pitfalls of a system

-Ukweli Test Strips data collection systems are used to effectively understand the current standings of the operations of the venture

– For NewTrition, recipe questionnaires were collected to determine whether the product our team felt was best, was also accepted by the mothers and children of Sierra Leone.

Interdependence* – Mutually beneficial relationships between systems

-Sustainable development goals, better education improves health, improving health makes a better population, a better population can do bigger and better things. All of our projects work on one problem being faced in a developing country, but the improvement in one aspect helps to improve the others.

– For NewTrition, the team needs a local to cook to make nutritious products to address malnutrition in Sierra Leone, so a local bakery partnered with us and allowed us to use the bakery. In return, we helped them work out a business model for their bakery and did odd jobs they needed assistance with.

Holism* – The idea that the sum of the individual parts of a system is less valuable than the system as a whole:

– For NewTrition, giving children separate serving of each of the ingredients used in the recipe would be ineffective, but combining them into a muffin, in this case, makes a product that is better than the sum of its individual components.

Differentiation* the idea that a system needs different systems working together to achieve a cohesive solution

-Bundle of sticks i.e. marketing, sale, dissemination, teaching, transport, etc…

– For NewTrition, when we first arrived in Sierra Leone, we weren’t differentiated within the team and it led to problems of ‘who is in charge of what’. After a meeting with Khanjan, he helped us differentiate ourselves and the team was much more productive.

* Differentiation, Holism, and Interdependence are essentially the same thing


Design a multifinal solution to the water hyacinth problem discussed in class. Explain the solution and describe how it exhibits the system tenets of multifinality, holism, and regulation.


To fix the water hyacinth problem, I would compensate the region we are using to harvest the crop with a fair percentage of our profits. This would allow the locals to not feel as though they are being taken advantage of and allows the business to continue to help the community and provide income for the employees. This solution shows multifinality in that it serves to eliminate the problem of the locals being upset at the use of their local areas, and solves the issue of the business now missing a produce supplier. This also serves to add a new revenue stream for the locals on the water. It shows holism, as there is a now a codependent between the locals on the water, and the business. The hyacinth by itself doesn’t have any value and is actually a negative thing in the water. This solution allows for the people on the water to have a healthy waterway with less hyacinth and additional money for access to the water for harvesting. The business is allowed a free source of input material that allows them to have a business. The separate parts of this relationship gather no money, but together everyone makes a profit. Finally, regulation is incorporated in that the locals will determine what we pay, to some extent, and keeps our company in check-in that we want our product partners to be happy so the relationship is strong and stays for many years. If the people we get our source material from have to leave, we won’t have partners, so their health and well-being are crucial as well.

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