Young Leaders for Health e.V.
non-profit organisation | gemeinnütziger Verein | Berlin, Germany
IBAN: DE33 8306 5408 0004 8767 09 | 

Components of the Conference
Systems Thinking Lab

About the Lab

The Systems Thinking Lab will give participants the chance to conceptualize, experiment, experience and reflect on how systems thinking can be applied to complex adaptive health systems. Participants will gain not only insights on the concept of systems thinking, but also experiences in using its common methodologies and tools. Before the conference, they will first be asked to select a number of choices from a list of healthcare workforce related problems.

During the lab the participants will then be tasked to design and evaluate an intervention for the prioritized problem, deploying system thinking method and tools for which instructions and materials will be provided.

At the Young Leaders for Health Conference 2019, participants will experience and understand how a complex adaptive system work, what it is, and how system thinking can be deployed to design solutions to overcome with system inefficiencies or problems. Facilitators will provide necessary guidance, and participants are expected to be ready for a shift in mindset from linear approach to a holistic view to understand complex adaptive health systems.


What is Systems Thinking?

A complex adaptive system (CAS) is defined as “a system that adapts and evolved through self-organization of a complex set of interconnected parts for a defined purpose”. A complex adaptive system consists of a number of elements (e.g. residents, healthcare providers, patients, policy makers etc) continuously interacting and adapting to changes in the other elements and the environment of which they are part. 

Systems thinking is an approach which first defines and considers characteristics of a CAS and aims to maximize positive effects while minimizing negative effects in the system. This requires to consider dynamic relationships between all parts forming the system, and the impact of each on the entire system. Systems thinking could address the limitations of linear and reductionist approaches, especially for health systems, by providing a holistic view on the organization and environment, their interrelated and interdependent parts. This could help to anticipate eventsand enables proactive planning rather than reactive action taking for emerging events.

Although the application of systems thinking in healthcare research has been existed fordecades, the interest has recently seen a significant increase as demonstrated by the rise in the number of publications. The Alliance for health Policy and Systems Research at WHO has been established in recognition of the need for health policyand systems research to strengthen health systems, and built the field of Health Policy and Systems Research. 

Preparing for the Systems Thinking Lab

It will be useful to familiarise yourself with the process in advance of the conference. We will upload a list of useful literature over the course of the next weeks. However, Systems Thinking is something that must be learned hands-on - exactly what you will do in the Lab.


The exact challenge is still being developed by the OC and specifications will follow soon.


Participation in the Systems Thinking Lab


Participation in the Systems Thinking Lab is limited. You can choose either the Design Thinking Lab, the Systems Thinking Lab or the Workshop Program but you cannot do all of them. You may indicate your preference within the application.

Analysing systems demands some time. Nevertheless, participants in the Lab will still be able to attend the keynote lectures and the WHA simulation.