My early years working for Outward Bound (in New York City!) showed me first-hand, the power of experiential learning. You want to understand what it takes to lead? See what you do when a group needs to get up and over a wall, or get from point A to point B with only a compass. What role do you play? Do you support? Lead? By-stand? Play devil’s advocate? After taking part in Outward Bound courses and leading many people — from teens to executives through Outward Bound activities, it was clear: the activities helped us all to become students of our own behaviors.
After leaving Outward Bound, I began my master’s at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and began working for Peter Senge and the Society for Organizational Learning, then at MIT. I remember going home to tell my father, a very open-minded business leader, all about systems thinking. His eyes glazed over. It all sounds so heady and abstract. At that moment, the Systems Thinking Playbook was born. Why couldn’t I take what I learned from Outward and use experiential learning to make the concepts of systems thinking more accessible?
With the invaluable support of Sheryl Erickson, I published the first volume of the Systems Thinking Playbook in 1995. Dennis Meadows, a systems dynamicist who shared my passion for experiential learning joined me as co-author for volume two and three of the Playbook.
Fast forward 20 years, the Playbook carries on, the little red book that could. I’m happy to announce today that a new, climate version of the book — The Climate Change Playbook — will be released by Chelsea Green at the end of the month. Dennis and I have been joined on this book by the brilliant Gillian Martin Mehers, founder and CEO of Bright Green Learning.
What’s the difference between the two books?
is for people who want to teach about or better understand complex systems. The Climate Change Playbook is for those who wish to communicate with others — from a systems perspective — about climate change.
Here are a few other differences:
- The Climate Change Playbook is focused on learning about the social and in some cases physical (bathtub game etc.) aspects of climate change. The framing and debriefing is focused on Climate Change.
- The Climate Change Playbook has several new games and the game mechanics in some games are different as the way we run them today has evolved in some cases from experience and trainer preferences.
You can order the Climate Change Playbook here.
To give you a better sense of the book, here is some early testimonials:
“Climate change, like most of our global problems, is a systemic problem—a web of interconnected issues that is difficult to analyze with conventional linear thinking. This book offers a playful, nonlinear, and largely nonverbal, method for learning how to think systemically—in other words, in terms of relationships, patterns, and context. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to experience systemic thinking firsthand.”
— Fritjof Capra, author of The Web of Life; coauthor of The Systems View of Life
“I have lectured and consulted in many dozens of nations, trying to help people understand carrying capacity and its relevance for their communities. Often, I have called upon the teaching tools now shared in The Climate Change Playbook in trainings, with staff, in workshops, and in my own presentations. This book is a treasure trove: It is a practical tool kit for any public policy practitioners who want to engage their counterparts and accelerate learning.”
—Mathis Wackernagel, founder and CEO of Global Footprint Network
“Few subjects are more crucial, more discussed, and more poorly understood than climate change. This is a tragedy because there are a few simple, intuitive insights that can be understood by all and could form a consensual foundation that would allow us to focus more clearly on the complex tradeoffs and choices obscured by our misunderstandings. The Climate Change Playbook is a great way to understand and more importantly help others understand these insights.”
—Peter M. Senge, senior lecturer, MIT; founding chair, Academy for Systemic Change; author of The Fifth Discipline