Integrating systems thinking into government

Estimated Time
90 minutes
Resource Type
Extract Case Study
TIPC Region

In notes prepared for a presentation to the Barcelona Hub of the Systems Innovation Network, TIP practitioner Tatiana Fernández Sirera sets out why a systemic approach is needed to address today’s most important challenges.

Drawing on experience of shared agendas for sustainability and social change in Catalonia, Tatiana highlights the difficult and challenging nature of transformation: how the path of transition is nonlinear and full of unknowns and uncertainties; and how public policy has to play a role in helping and guiding transformation processes, yet does not have the capacity to direct these.

Tatiana grapples with the ‘impossible mission’ of achieving a systemic and shared understanding of a complex challenge or system, but observes how the processes, path and dynamics built during the processes are more important than the results.

The notes conclude with reflections on the importance of managing conflict and expectations for systemic transformation, and of building on these tensions to allow the emergence and consolidation of new possibilities.



Fernández Sirera, T. (2022) Integrating systems thinking into government. Available at

Reflections on TIPC use

“People, institutions, against all evidence, still believe that we can decide, with the help of experts, the targets we want to achieve and then create roadmaps, strategies, action plans and key performance indicators to achieve the desired targets.

When what we do does not work, we look for experts to help us to find solutions and fix the problems. If the problems are too big, we break them into parts to find more easily solutions for each one of the parts. We constantly try to create processes and procedures that can be replicated and scaled-up, and that lead to predictable outcomes. And we judge success and failure based on whether things go just as we predicted, ignoring that the problems we are trying to address with our actions are not improving.

We are talking about climate change, pollution, waste of resources, poverty, persistent unemployment and many other problems that are a result of our actions and of our way of living.”

– Tatiana Fernández Sirera

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