The purpose of Stage 1 is to build a foundation for change. The intended result is to develop collective readiness for change. Stage 1 incorporates three steps:
• Engage key stakeholders. This involves identifying the range of possible stakeholders and designing strategies to engage them individually and collectively.
• Establish common ground by creating initial pictures of what people want to achieve and where they are now. It is useful at this point to develop an initial shared vision of the ideal outcomes and an overview of what is and is not working now.
• Build people’s capacities to collaborate with each other. This involves developing people’s abilities to think systemically and hold productive conversations around difficult issues, as well as their underlying capacity to take responsibility for current reality.”

The purpose of Stage 2 is to help people face current reality. The intended results are to build not only a shared understanding of what is happening and why, but also acceptance of people’s responsibilities—however unwitting—for creating this reality. While it might seem logical at this point to develop a clearer and richer picture of the ideal future, Michael and I have found that digging more deeply into reality at this stage more accurately reflects many people’s desires to understand and be understood for where they are before venturing too far forward.

As Otto Scharmer observed based on his work with Ed Schein, professor emeritus of management at MIT, the primary job of leadership is to “enhance the individual and systemic capacity to see, to deeply attend to the reality that people face and enact.”
The tasks of Stage 2 are to:
• Identify people to interview about the history of the current situation and clarify what questions to ask.
• Organize and begin to improve the quality of the information.
• Develop a preliminary systems analysis of how different factors interact over time to support or undermine achievement of the vision.
• Engage people in developing their “own analysis as much as possible.
• Surface the mental models that influence how people behave.
• Create catalytic conversations that stimulate awareness, acceptance, and alternatives.”

The purpose of Stage 3 is to help people make an explicit choice in favor of what they really want. The intended result is that they consciously commit to their highest aspirations with full awareness of the costs, not just the benefits, of realizing them. The steps to achieve this result are to help stakeholders:
• Identify the case for the status quo uncovered in Stage 2—the short-term benefits of the current system such as quick fixes that work, for instance, and the immediate gratification that comes from implementing them—and the costs of changing, such as the need to make longer-term investments in effort, time, and money.
• Compare this with the case for change described in Stage 1—the benefits of change and the costs of not changing.
• Create both/and solutions that achieve the benefits of both—or be willing to make hard trade-offs between them.
• Make an explicit choice and bring it to life through a vision that illuminates what people feel called to or deeply wish to create.”

The purpose of Stage 4 is to help people bridge the gap between what they deeply care about, which they affirm in Stage 3, and where they are now as clarified in Stage 2. This final stage involves identifying leverage points and establishing a process for continuous learning and expanded engagement. Specific tasks are to:
1. Propose and refine high-leverage interventions with community input. This includes:
a. Increasing people’s awareness of how the system functions now.
b. “Rewiring” causal feedback relationships.
c. Shifting mental models.
d. Reinforcing the chosen purpose through updated goals and plans, metrics, incentives, authority structures, and funding.
2. Establish a process for continuous learning and outreach. This covers:
a. Engaging existing stakeholders on an ongoing basis.
b. Developing an implementation plan that incorporates demonstration projects as part of a long-term road map.
c. Refining the data to be gathered based on new goals and metrics.
d. Evaluating and revising the plan regularly with input from current stakeholders.
e. Expanding stakeholder involvement by tapping additional resources and scaling up what works.”

4 stages of systematic thinking