Whole Systems Thinking–Thinking Like a CEO

Apply Systems Thinking and Strategic Thinking Skills to Assess and Improve Your Organization’s Performance

What you’ll learn

  • Get a big picture view of your organization using the “Transformation Model”.
  • Learn to speak more articulately about what it happening inside your organization.
  • Assess your current business situation-demands, opportunities and threats.
  • Evaluate your company or organization’s current business strategy and core ideology.
  • Determine the fit between your organizations philosophy (guiding principles) and attitudes and habits of employees.
  • Understand your core processes and assess the strength of your core and support processes.
  • Assess the impact of your organizational structure on business results.
  • Understand how your coordinating and development systems currently contribute to your culture and results.
  • Diagnose the attitudes and work habits of members of your organization.
  • Create initiatives to improve the performance of your organization.
  • Get out of the weeds so you can solve problems more effectively.
  • Take a big picture view of your organization so you can think like a CEO.

Course Content

  • Introduction –> 3 lectures • 12min.
  • Assessment Using the Transformation Model –> 8 lectures • 39min.
  • Stepping Back and Looking at the Whole –> 5 lectures • 23min.

Whole Systems Thinking--Thinking Like a CEO



Welcome to “Thinking Like a CEO.” The course will enable you to use whole system thinking and strategic thinking to make you a smarter and more informed leader or member of your organization.

I organize this program around the Transformation Model (which you’ll see in my preview video and then use as you go through the course). The model reduces the complexity of an organization to the seven key variables that need to be understood and aligned in order for your organization (large or small) to achieve peak success.

The model will help you step back from the day-to-day operation and look at your business or organization from a wholistic and systems point of view. Seeing the big picture is learning to think like a CEO. Most people, on learning the model, have a much better grasp and understanding on what goes on in their organization. You’ll see your company, business, or organization in a more enlightened way as you also learn what contributes and detracts from your success.

The model is based on two premises:

1. All organizations are perfectly designed to get the results they get.

The results you’re getting in your organization are not haphazard. They’re a function of how you’ve designed your organization and by design I’m talking about a lot more than structure or reporting relationships. Design has to do with understanding and aligning each of the seven elements of the Transformation Model.

2. The most important work of leaders is “on” systems and not “in” systems.

Working in a system is being caught up in the sequential events or most urgent problems of the day. Although the day-to-day flow of work is important, this isn’t where you add the most value as a leader. You add the most value when you’re working “on” systems which means that you see the interdependencies suggested by the Transformation Model and are able to diagnose and resolve problems or improve performance by maintaining this high-level view of things. You’ll see what’s going on in your organization in a more enlightened way.

You’ll use the skill of systems thinking to understand the model and how the various elements of the model impact your results. You’ll make a tremendous contribution by speaking from the framework of the model as well as identifying opportunities for making improvements to your organization.

Take-Aways from the Course:

By going through the course, you’ll:


  • Apply systems thinking and strategic thinking skills to your organization
  • Learn to think like a CEO
  • Step back and gain a wholistic view of your organization
  • Do an assessment of each of the seven elements of the Transformation Model
  • Become more more enlightened about how your organization actually works
  • Deepen your understanding of your leadership role (whether as a formal or informal leader)
  • Spend more time in value-added activities (and reduce fire-fighting)
  • Build a stronger and more effective team or organization.
  • Develop concrete ideas for improving your organization

Organization of the Course

This is not a long course. I avoid theory and fluff and jump right into the content. I’ve organized the course into three sections:

Section One: Introduction in which I frame the course and offer you tips for getting the most value out of it. Notice that I’m giving you a number of tools and resources, up front, to help you understand the content.

Section Two: You’ll do a comprehensive and high-level assessment of your organization. This is roll-up your sleeves time. I’m not just teaching you about the model but want you to apply it to your organization. This is how you’ll get the content from theory to practice.

Section Three: You’ll take a step back and take a look at the key learnings from the application of the model to your organization. I’ll take you through a process to identify strengths, weaknesses, areas of alignment and misalignment as well as key leverage points or the greatest opportunities to make improvement to your business.

My bio:

Just a little about me. I have a dual background in psychology and organizational behavior. I’ve co-founded two companies—the Human Development Institute and Center for Organizational Design and have spent 25 years doing consulting and training to all types and sizes of organizations to create high performing organizations through leadership and team development. One of these programs is the Transformation Model which I’ve used with thousands of people in dozens of organizations to not only assess but make incredible improvements to their organizations. And since 2000, a business partner and I have certified over 1500 trainers and consultants from around the world to use our programs, including the Transformation Model.


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