System Leaders are the change agents that disrupt and transform systems: they spark collaboration, create shared buy-in, engage diverse actors, foster a spirit of innovation, and leverage moments of uncertainty and turbulence to incite new opportunities.  GKI is committed to building the next generation of systems leaders to lead in the world of complexity.

What is the Systems Innovation Mindset?

“Systems thinking” and “Innovation thinking” are often treated in isolation because they have emerged from different schools of study and practice. We argue that pursuing innovation in complex systems beckons for a hybrid of the two. To achieve any level of scale-up, scale deep or scale-out requires a multifaceted understanding of systems and the opportunity to collaborate within them. The approaches in our methodology invite stakeholders within the systems to participate in a cohesive, facilitated systems-thinking and innovation thinking experience that activates collective consciousness and action.

Systems Thinking

The ability to see more clearly how things unfold over time and [to better understand] the web of interconnections within which we live and act (Senge, 2015)

Innovation Thinking

The ability to generate new ideas by approaching problems or existing practices in imaginative, novel ways (Glasspool, 2002)

Systems Innovation Mindset

What are the essential skillsets for systems leadership?

Systems leaders create a ripple effect in the system, mobilizing others, building connections, and influencing through their networks.  They involve as many people’s ideas, talents, energies, and expertise as possible to foster reflection and generative conversations to shift from reactive problem solving to co-creating solutions for the future. It is through this collaborative muscle that they can have a deeper and more meaningful impact. Based on extensive research, GKI has identified the following 9 essential skill sets of systems leaders.


Foster Collaborative Learning

Encourage all actors to understand the system.

Spark Innovation

Inspire others in the system to design, test, and implement new solutions to their challenges.

Encourage Empathy

Better understand and engage actors with different roles, motivations, and challenges.


Understand Complex Relationships

Make it easier for diverse actors to find new partners within the system.

Foster Collaborative Design

Create safe environments for actors to experiment with new approaches that engage other systems stakeholders.

Develop Systems Facilitators

Create problem-solving networks that spark the movement of information across the system.

Enabling Environment

Guide Systems Thinking

Identify the political, social, cultural, economic, and historical factors that exert influence on the system.

Analyze Change

Understand how the system shifts over time in ways that may impede or advance the change sought by Systems Leaders.

Encourage Preparedness

Develop plans that are comprehensive, consistent, simple to follow, and encourage action by Systems Leaders and broader systems stakeholders.

Leadership Programs and Courses

Systems Thinking 101

We help participants deepen their understanding of the what, why, and how of systems thinking, including the history of these approaches, and the importance of using them to understand complex problems. Participants will not only learn about Systems Thinking mindsets but also be introduced to a diverse set of Systems Thinking frameworks and tools.

Introduction to Systems Sensing

We support learners to understand the basics of systems mapping and applying systems mindsets to their work (and life!). Participants will be introduced to systems terminology, work through interactive sessions to learn the process of systems mapping, and learn how to leverage the systems map to inform strategic decisions.

Innovation Mindsets and Human-Centered Design

Using human-centered design (HCD), we help innovators learn to put the people at the center of the creative problem-solving process. This workshop introduces participants to the foundations of HCD including how to embed empathy, rapid iteration, other core design concepts of problem-solving, and how to apply them to any challenge–including the design of products, spaces, services, and systems.

Facilitation 101

We support learners to find their natural facilitation style and skills more naturally in a variety of environments, design more interactive environments and sessions, and employ strategies for groups to work together more collaboratively and productively, in physical and virtual spaces.

Leading Innovation Labs

This program helps participants design and facilitate innovation labs with confidence.  Whatever the challenge, the course will help leaders to understand how to build structured collaborative systems innovation processes, and build comfort with toolsets of activities from challenge mapping or action planning.

Innovation Challenges

We help participants design challenge programs that incentivize and accelerate action and innovation within a system.  From problem definition to participant engagement to acceleration to monitoring we will provide an opportunity to explore the various challenge models, decision-making frameworks, and management tools necessary to build an own unique program to achieve their goals.

Designing Impact Networks

This course teaches the basics of network-building from design to collaborative governance to active engagement, the participants can explore how to leverage their relationships to develop coordinated impact networks and align action to a vision for change.

Embodied Mindfulness for Change Leaders

As a systems leader, you will learn how to establish and strengthen an embodied mindfulness practice in your personal and professional life. Including how to create moments of peace and clarity in chaotic contexts, increase your emotional intelligence and empathy, and thrive in your journey toward realizing your vision of the greater good.

…and more! 

Client Testimonies

For more information on how we can support your organization’s capacity development or coaching needs, email [email protected].