A (Beginner) Facilitator's Guide to Systems Thinking:

We have created this beginner's guide in both English and Tagalog for communities, networks, and organizations who want to introduce systems-thinking to their members or teammates for the first time.  We put together resources that we think will be helpful for young leaders who are starting their social impact journeys and local groups who are already running social change initiatives. 

While this was specifically designed for a Filipino audience, we believe it can be relevant throughout the region.

  • How we created this guide: We compiled the content for this facilitator’s guide by reviewing the extensive range of materials already out there on systems thinking and sharing with you some of the resources that may be helpful for the Philippine context.  We also collaborated with and interviewed local systemic leaders in the Philippines. 

    We would like to acknowledge the limits of our methodology.  This guide is not meant to be an academic research piece as we are not academics or systems experts, just community-builders who have seen first-hand the benefits of systems thinking. 


  • This guide is meant to be a basic introduction for those who are exploring systems thinking for the first time and want to apply it towards solving social problems. 


  • Let’s collaborate! We hope to continue evolving and growing this guide.  If you use this or any of its pieces with your communities, we would love to hear your feedback and any suggestions on how to make it better.  If you have come across materials that you think would be good to include in the guide, please do share.  You can reach out to us at

Resources for funders:

For funders interested in learning more about trust-based funding approaches, the trust-based philanthropy project has some excellent resources.

In addition, we highly recommend watching this short insightful and honest webinar from Pia Infante (Co-Executive Director of the Whitman Institute).

We also find this blog from John Rendel at Peter Cundill Foundation a useful and insightful read on unrestricted / general operating support funding.

Over 2020, Social Innovation Exchange (SIX) brought together a number of funders from across the world as a global scan to better understand global philanthropic responses to Covid-19. 


They were interested in the how more than the what. On this website here, you can find stories, insights and the provocations that they collected. It's a rich resource and well worth exploring. They also curated some insights in the pdf below. Many thanks to SIX for their ongoing work in this space. 

Additionally, the pdf below is a report entitled "Snapshot: Covid-19 grantmaking going forward in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong" that was compiled using research conducted by Just Cause and commissioned by Firetree in order to reflect on different Covid-19 philanthropic responses and look forward to 2021. 

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Resources for educators:

As part of its professional development services, Starfish Education has been working on a whole school transformation project with over 90 schools in Thailand since 2018. This project applies Apple Inc's concept about elements of success to school administrators, so that they can manage leaning environments and lead schools to be innovative organizations. This "whole school" approach requires transformation via nine elements in three aspects: school management, teaching and learning. 

The publication found below, titled "School Transformation: 9 Elements of the Whole School Approach", is an English adaptation of the guidelines for this concept, and also includes insights from school directors and teachers who played roles in schools that have successfully changed their school system to improve learning outcomes in line with 21st century skills.

The next resource, titled "The STEAM Design Process - 21st Century Skills Development", is an English adaptation of a publication produced by Starfish Education that lays out the details of what 21st century skills for learners and teachers are, how the STEAM Design Process works as a learning management process, and lessons learned from teachers and administrators who have put this into practice throughout Thailand.