Systems Graphics Workshops


Economic or ecological systems, a city or region, even an urban quarter or an organization present us with difficult challenges. Often, each one of us only understands a small piece of reality and fails to fathom why other people see the world so differently. We are placed in a quandary like that of the blind men and the elephant, who can not agree what kind of an animal the elephant is.

In my workshops, groups of people work together to create graphics to visualize complex relationships. Thus they find leverage points to influence a system in helpful ways. In the process, they come to an understanding how different, apparently mutually exclusive viewpoints can complement each other. Working in common toward a shared goal becomes possible.

This method is especially useful for involving diverse people with a variety of perspectives in the formulation of strategies in areas such as

  • urban, village or regional development,
  • environmental or nature protection,
  • responsible development of a business, or
  • the solution of social problems.

Depending on the task at hand, the events can be public or restricted to invited participants. A one-time event can be useful in order to gain a common understanding of beneficial intervention opportunities. Alternatively, it is possible to continue working with the systems graphics in order to work out strategies in more detail or to assess performance. I will be glad to discuss which procedure may best fit your situation.


Workshop at the Commons Summerschool, Bechstedt, Thuringia, June 2018. Photo: Vera Hofmann


Links with further explanations

A workshop that I offered on 4/14/2018 at the Volkshochschule Heidelberg provided insights into how useful it can be to work together as a group to create systems graphics to visualize complex relationships. See the following report: Systems Graphic Workshop VHS Heidelberg April 2018

My article How to make a systems graphic to understand shared enterprises uses the example of Solidago (a solidarity-based mutual health insurance organization) to show how systems graphics can be created and used in order to identify possible action strategies. In a workshop within the  Summer Academy 2017 of the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung Nordrhein-Westfalen this method was used to sketch strategies to increase the share of organic food at school cafeterias in a German city.

Selected other workshops given in recent years




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