Systems Thinking in L&D will Improve Your Learning Solutions

November 3, 2021
4 Minutes
Qian Feng joined #IDIODC November third.

Systems Thinking is the skill or ability to solve problems in complex systems.  Hey! That sounds like a lot of the work done by instructional designers!  Sometimes, yes. But not always.  In many cases we learn about the learners by building personas, and we learn about the content from subject matter experts and the actual tasks of the job.  But what about all the other elements that are a part of that learner’s complete, and complex, environment?

Luckily, in this episode of IDIODC, Qian Feng joined us to discuss systems thinking and how it applies, or should apply more heavily, within our systems of instructional design. Qian shared her passion for systems thinking in L&D and why we need to look beyond our immediate circle of influence and understand the wider systems in which employees are working. We should consider other parts of their system like the culture, the norms, the org structure, processes, and more, in order to design impactful learning that sticks.

As an added bonus Qian will share some amazing insights from her work on the systemic exploration of the relationship between media and the pandemic from her recent report titled Going Viral: Fighting Pandemics in the Age of Infodemics. There are some insightful connections that will help us understand the importance of system thinking in creating our learning solutions.

Links shared in chat

Article titled: Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System

Systems Thinking at Open University:

The Fifth Discipline:

To see all the comments from the chat, check out the full session right here.  

And to ask more questions, or participate in extended conversations about this episode, please join us in the IDIODC LinkedIn Group.  

About Qian Feng

Qian Feng is a strategic thinker and emerging leader in the learning industry, with over eight years of experience in L&D and education. She is currently a senior manager of learning design at Metrix, leading a high-performing team of instructional designers. Qian is a creative problem solver who sees challenges in systems and uses her knowledge in human-centered design to create high-impact and engaging learning experiences. She is passionate about the future of work and is exploring how technology, design, and foresight can be used to create a continuous, inclusive, and impactful learning culture.


Instructional Designers in Offices Drinking Coffee (affectionately known as IDIODC) is a weekly live videocast and podcast that helps instructional designers with pain points and provides best practices and industry insight.  

Every Wednesday morning at 10am ET hosts Brent Schlenker and Chris Van Wingerden guide us through an upbeat and candid conversation with their guests from the elearning and training world. The live cast session encourages peers to participate in the chat and share their own personal insight! After airing live, you can catch the learning podcast on all major streams such as Spotify, Apple and Google Play podcasts, as well as on YouTube.

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