Human Systems Dynamics Institute

HSD helps us change the world by changing the way we think about the world!  We use insights about "complex adaptive systems" to SEE, UNDERSTAND, INFLUENCE patterns in those systems.

For more information about the HSD Institute, see


For information about our work in schools, see

What are complex adaptive systems?   We sometimes hear teachers say that a class of students has “taken on a life of its own.” That is because groups of people live and work in complex adaptive systems.  In schools, those might be classes of students, families, the basketball squad, the third grade team, and patrons in the neighborhood. The field of human systems dynamics (HSD) draws lessons from nonlinear sciences to help practitioners understand and influence complex, dynamical interactions in organizations and groups. The concepts are grounded in nature, and they continue to emerge as we explore applications in human systems.

How can HSD help us deal with confusion and uncertainty in complex systems?  In spite of their application to complex and challenging fields, HSD models and methods are simple to understand and highly useful to people who want to transform educational systems. The Human Systems Dynamics Institute supports consulting, training, research, and coaching to help people understand and apply principles of HSD to their work and lives. An international network of over 300 certified professionals apply HSD in diverse fields including health care, conflict resolution, education reform, program evaluation, leadership development, organization development, and human resources. HSD professionals use "Adaptive Action" to influence their systems. Adaptive Action is an iterative, generative cycle focusing on three questions:  WHAT is happening?  SO WHAT does it mean? NOW WHAT shall I do about it?  See for more information.

How can we influence complex systems? HSD offers a wide range of methods and models ( But "simple rules" is one of the most powerful for those of us who work in schools. If everyone in a system decides to follow a short set of simple rules, the patterns across the whole system tend to shift toward a shared goal. We have found these rules to be useful in triggering a radical toward engaged, generative, and deep learning:

  • Teach and learn in every interaction.
  • See, understand, and influence patterns.
  • Attend to the whole, the part, and the greater whole.
  • Seek the true and the useful.
  • Focus on assets of self and others.
  • Act with courage.
  • Seek joy in learning.


Join us to learn more (and to teach us what works for you)!




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