Think Phase

Navigate the Systems Change Toolbox

If you’ve structured a specific problem, spend time thinking about every aspect of that problem.

Why Thinking is Important

After you’ve structured the problem, it’s natural to want to quickly start acting to solve it. It’s important to first think through your problem by asking the following questions:

  • Why are you interested in this problem? Examine your motivations and those of all the possible stakeholders.
  • Who are the relevant stakeholders? Answer this question by using stakeholder mapping and management tools.
  • What are your objectives? Narrow your goals by using an exercise such as organizing your objectives or the 5Rs Worksheet.
  • Where is the problem? Explore the circumstances, conditions, and values that surround the problem.
  • How can the problem be resolved? Think broadly about the means to address your problem.
  • When should you act? Consider the appropriate time for action in a dynamic environment, accounting for system life cycles.

Answering these questions — as individuals or as a group of stakeholders — ensures that you sufficiently understand how your problem works, that you and others perceive the problem similarly, and that you’ve considered a range of potential interventions.

Think Phase in Practice

The National Fund’s regional collaborative in Syracuse, CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity, is deep into thinking with stakeholders from the mayor’s office, the business community, training institutions, and labor unions. CenterState is thinking through coordinated action to create economic opportunities for people of color in the construction and tech sectors.


Tools You Can Use in the Think Phase

Think Phase Resources