1: Discovering Ideas

Habits of Big Thinkers


Discovery is important in fine-tuning your perspective by learning the system’s structure, the triggers for change and the underlying mental model of everyone involved.

  • Able to change perspectives to increase understanding.
  • Recognizes that a system’s structure generates its behavior.
  • Has a need to understand “why” before making decisions and taking action.
  • Seeks to understand the big picture
  • Seeks to understand what drives the people that are impacted.
  • Open to challenging her/his own assumptions and their impact on how we discover and learn.


Evaluation and analysis is important in using what you have discovered to understand historical and current impact, cause and effect relationships and unintended consequences.

  • Able to keep the broader perspective in mind, resisting the urge to get lost in the details.
  • Seeks out evidence of patterns of behaviors or events.
  • Seeks to understand the historical background and changes over time.
  • Seeks to understand the connections responsible for the changes over time.
  • Can identify unintended consequences and the circular nature of complex cause and effect relationships


Developing great ideas takes time and requires knowledge and understanding of the system and its connections. The ideas should be closely aligned to the desired impact.

  • Understands that great ideas often takes time and is patient while continuing to explore ideas.
  • Believes that great ideas are more important that who owns the idea. Open to collaboration and sharing thoughts and ideas with others.
  • Uses understanding of system structure to identify higher leverage opportunities.
  • Analyzes implications of the proposed change before executing ideas.


The primary goal for execution is to test that idea will make the impact desired. Understanding your desired impact and being clear on what you are testing is critical before taking action.

  • Takes small actions often
  • Surfaces and tests assumptions
  • Understands the areas within the system where small changes can have a big impact on the results.


Measuring results on an ongoing bases to identify opportunities for improvement and adjustment.

  • Measuring results to identify opportunities to modify the connections to improve the system.
  • Check the results from the changes applied to validate desired impact.
  • Continually determining if adjustments are needed to ensure the system continues to get better and better.
  • Open to changing or pivoting actions based on results.
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Kishau Rogers is the editor and founder of The bigThinking Project. The bigThinking Project is a resource center and collaborative innovation project which promotes the principles of systems thinking. Our mission is to empower the next generation of innovators to think bigger, to think better and to create solutions which make significant impact in the areas that matter. Kishau Rogers is an award-winning entrepreneur with over twenty years of experience in the computer science industry. She is a serial entrepreneur having founded and co-founded companies such as Websmith Group, TimeStudy, PeerLoc Inc., and Websmith Studio.

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