NICF- Systems Thinking & Root Cause Analysis

NUS Institute of Systems Science

How long?

  • 2 days
  • in person

NUS Institute of Systems Science


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Who should attend

This 2.0 day programme is intended for decision makers, change managers, project managers and others working within transformation functions, including innovation teams and quality improvement teams, who wish to develop the necessary skills to understand the implications of their decisions, and the root causes of the challenges they are tackling, in order to improve the effectiveness of their solutioning

  • It is applicable for professionals engaged in the following areas.
  • Business Analyst
  • Architects
  • Developers
  • Project Managers
  • Infrastructure Specialists
  • Change Managers
  • Innovation Managers
  • Policy Makers
  • Planning Managers


This is an intensive, intermediate course. Participants with some prior years of experience working with different functional teams in an organization will benefit more from the course. However, no specific technical or management skills are required.

An adapted version of this course (Systems Thinking & Root Cause Analysis – Complex Decision Making in Health) comprises one of five modules making up the NUS Professional Diploma in Smart Health Leadership.

About the course

The introduction of new technologies or services into the complex and complicated industry environments often results in solutions that produce incremental improvements, rather than transformational ones, as a result of the predominantly siloed approach to problem ownership and solving. Resolving challenges at the surface level, which allows business-as-usual to continue temporarily, may not be sufficient to enable problems to be effectively and fully resolved, due to the fact that the true underlying root causes, or the knock-on effects of our solutions, are not addressed. Systems Thinking is an approach that allows complexity, and indirect interactions, to be considered during the analysis and problem solving process, in order to help identify more effective solutions and generate more impactful outcomes. Root Cause Analysis is an effective tool to assist the practitioner in apply a systems thinking approach for more effective decision making in complex environments.

The course in ‘Systems Thinking and Root Cause Analysis’ seeks to develop the capabilities required to integrate an awareness and understanding of systems thinking principles, and application of techniques to support complex organisational decision making.

The course will teach key techniques and concepts of systems thinking in such a way as to be relevant across the most challenged industries in Singapore, such as healthcare where the complexities of defining the correct challenge in order to identify impactful solutions requires new ways of thinking.

The course is designed to assist participants in appreciating the wider impacts and opportunities of their decision making and solutioning processes. In many organisations, service improvement initiatives are challenged as a result of fragmented decision making and siloed operations. A systems thinking approach can assist in improving root cause analyses, by considering problems beyond existing service boundaries, and seeking to develop solutions that might integrate partners and processes from across the organisation’s ecosystem.

This course is part of the IT Service Management series offered by NUS-ISS.

Key Takeaways

At the end of the course, the participants will be able to:

  • Understand the importance, and key principles, of systems thinking for organisational decision making
  • Devise appropriate solutions to delivery challenges, based on systems thinking research, analysis, and sense making
  • Understand the importance of, and opportunities for, stakeholder engagement through the systems thinking process
  • Determine when and how to apply a variety of systems thinking tools, templates, frameworks and checklists
  • Apply relevant techniques to find the root cause of an incident and to generate ideas for preventive measures to avoid the recurrence of the incident

What Will Be Covered

This course is designed for all IT professionals, business planning professionals, and Transformation or Change Managers so that they can be equipped with the knowledge and skills to resolve incidents as quickly as possible as well as prevent their future recurrence, as well as gaining insights to support long term, complex decision-making. This is achieved through gaining skills in using systematic methods to find the direct causes of incidents for quick resolution, as well as to apply methodologies for drilling down into the systemic root causes for purpose of preventing recurrence of the incident.

Participants will be taught to recognise the different types of decision making domain, and determine strategies for making appropriate decisions under different circumstances using tools and techniques taught during the course.

The practical application of tools, templates and checklists, and hands-on classroom activities, will allow attendees to develop the knowledge and skills required to make decisions based on informed analysis of the circumstances, with structured consideration of the implications.

This course will cover :

Introducing Systems Thinking

  • Understanding the fundamentals of systems thinking
  • the benefits of systems thinking for decision making in challenging environments (compared to simple scenario decision making)
  • Introducing frameworks to help make sense of challenging environments

Tools for Different Decision Making Environments

  • Understanding complicated, complex and chaotic environments
  • Introducing tools and techniques to support decision making in different decision making environments


Tamsin Emma Maria Greulich Smith

Tamsin, a Senior Fellow at the Ministry of Health’s Office for Healthcare Transformation, and expert design strategist on DesignSingapore Council’s ‘Innovation by Design’ panel, has more than 20 years of international experience in delivering change and transformation programmes, integrating user...

Goh Boon Nam

Boon Nam has over 25 years of management experience in IT, holding management portfolios in IT planning, architecture, governance, quality and process improvement, application development, operations, human resource development, financial management and outsourcing. He has also developed and impl...

NICF- Systems Thinking & Root Cause Analysis at NUS Institute of Systems Science

From  1926 SGD$1,425

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Full disclaimer.

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