Observing Interconnections: A Futures Thinking Now Conversation

Topics: 101, Future of Learning, Systems Change

Observing connections can be messy, but it’s useful. The Connection Circle is one of the tools KnowledgeWorks uses in futures thinking.

Katherine Prince, vice president of strategic foresight, and Katie King, senior director of strategic foresight, chat in depth about the blog post “Futures Thinking Now: Observing Interconnections” and demonstrated the Connection Circle while reading an EdWeek article about the educator workforce.

During their conversation, Prince and King discussed why observing connections is important, the process of creating Connection Circles, the circles they created and compare the circles to explore the differences to find the cause and effects. King notes before they compare their circles.

“Talking about those and unpacking those is part of what this is about,” said King. “These circles and the other tools related to systems thinking are not about having a truthful or accurate representation of the system because that’s not possible when you’re drawing something from your own mind. It’s really in the conversation and the comparison and what came up for you and what came up for me and where do our experiences and how we see the system differ and what do we need to do about that as we’re working together to think about these problems or think about any solutions that we might want to enact.”

When comparing, natural thought-provoking discourse ensued. Prince told King, “You captured the churn that all of this creates in the system and the impact on children, both in terms of their trauma and their academic outcomes, then also the kind of community morale that came up in the article. As I’ve been reflecting on this, one thing I didn’t put on here that I think is actually even more of a root cause than anything that I’ve drawn might be the class sizes, which is similar to your number of teachers available in normal times, not pandemic times.”

Compare your own circle to theirs for practice, and watch the video or download the transcript below.

The Futures Thinking Now series explores tools to explore possible futures through systems thinking. More tools are explored in the publication Looking Beneath the Surface: The Education Changemaker’s Guidebook to Systems Thinking.