A sea of poppies and other wildflowers
Michelle O'Herron

Systems Thinking and Change: A Guide for Landscape Stewardship Practitioners


In an effort to create a shared language and understanding for landscape stewardship practitioners, terms related to systems, such as systems thinking and systems change, are defined in this guide. Systems in three classifications—biosphere, social, and technosphere—are highlighted. These three systems all share the characteristics of interconnectedness, interdependency, and dynamism

Systems thinking is a lens through which we can understand, diagnose, and solve complex issues, in addition to a lens for decision-making and future planning. Both a process and an outcome, systems change is the action-oriented side of systems thinking, intended to produce long-lasting change.

This guide concludes with a checklist that can be used when approaching problems through a systems-thinking and systems-change perspective. When applying this perspective, the practice of collaborative leadership is highlighted as the most effective approach to tackling today’s complex problems.


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