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Schools are complex enterprises and in order to achieve the best outcomes (in every sense) with the available limited resources it is essential to generate a good understanding of what is happening and how & why it is happening. It is essential to achieve a practical understanding of the school as a system.


The process for generating this understanding is technically called 'systems analysis'. On the basis of this analysis it them becomes possible and much safer to design changes that will result in improvements at minimum cost and minimum disruption.


The analysis of the system takes the following steps:

  • Identify the purposes of the system
  • Identify the elements of the system
  • Clarify the connections between the elements of the system and how they interact
  • Clarify the connections between the system and its environment and how they interact
  • Identify the constraints*: improving some things will makes a much bigger difference than improving others

[*Note: a stable system has fewer and more consistent constraints therefore opportunities for improvement are easier to identify and manage.  Always begin by stabilising the system!!  And make sure your initiatives don't destabilise the system. Good ideas can be damaging]]


The design stage is really about making changes to any or all of the above so that the system functions better, i.e., it is improved. These changes can be at many levels ranging from the whole of the system to the steps in particular processes in parts of the 'subsystems'.


See next Design & Improve