Systems thinking at the Tavistock Institute

Presented by Dione Hills, Richard Allen and David Drabble.

Systems Thinking has been an important feature in the Tavistock Institute’s research and consultancy work from the beginning in 1947. Central to our action research work with major industries in the 1950-70’s, it formed the core of theory and practice related to ‘sociotechnical systems’ work. This tradition continued within our evaluation activities from the 1980’s onward, and features in several of our current projects. These have received added impetus from the growing interest in complexity theory and its application to evaluation practice, encouraged by our involvement in activities such as the Centre for Complexity in Evaluation across the Nexus (CECAN) and the writing of an annex to the revised Magenta book (Cross-Government Evaluation Group) published on 27 March this year.

This talk on Systems Thinking offered the opportunity to consider what we have learnt from the past, how we are currently applying this – and where systems thinking will be taking us next.

Recording of the talk

Speaker’s bios

Dione Hills has been involved in evaluation and consultancy activities at the Tavistock Institute for over 30 years. For the last 3 years she has taken a lead in the Institute’s partnership with CECAN, contributing to guidance documents such as the Magenta book complexity evaluation guidance, to training activities and workshops and several blogs.

Richard Allen is a Principal Researcher and Consultant at the Tavistock Institute who has more than 30 years working in the ‘not for profit’ and public sectors in a variety of project and senior management roles largely concerned with generating change and improving organisational performance. At the Tavistock Institute, he works across a range of consultancy and evaluation projects.

David Drabble is a senior researcher at the Tavistock Institute with over ten years of experience and a keen interest in organisational systems. He often works in the health field and on evaluating innovative and disruptive interventions. He has a specialised role in data presentation, analysis, and project management.

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