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  • Writer's pictureSusan & Renée

How an Iceberg can Lead to Business Success

Updated: Sep 8, 2023


We talk a lot to our clients about Systems Thinking. It is a way to think about your business that trains you to see how each decision you make affects each part of your business. You analyze each business decision based on the impact it can have on the business as a whole. You look at each piece of your business as interconnected.



Peter Senge, a scholar on the subject describes Systems Thinking this way:


“a discipline for seeing wholes rather than parts, for seeing patterns of change rather than static snapshots, and for understanding the subtle interconnectedness that gives (living) systems their unique character”.


To explain Systems Theory in a visual way, experts use an iceberg.

  • At the tip of the iceberg – the ice you can see above the waterline – is an event or a happening. This is easily seen and recognized. For example, failure to deliver a project on time.

  • Below the waterline, not visible to observers are patterns or trends that happen over time. In the systems thinking example of failure to deliver a project, this may relate to several instances of missed interim benchmarks or the fact that a number of risks in the project went unaddressed.

  • Deeper underwater are the underlying structures – the causes of the observed patterns. Why were interim benchmarks missed and why wasn’t appropriate attention given to project risks? This may be due to poor governance practices, an inexperienced project lead or sponsor, or a lack of accountability associated with failure to deliver.

  • And finally, deepest of all are the mental models – the attitudes, beliefs and assumptions that allow structures to persist. They may include a lack of belief in the importance of the project or its objectives. At this depth, we are focusing, not on the behavior, but on the motivation for that behavior.




The iceberg model can provide a pathway for identifying what is causing a problem in a system and how to solve it.


G2 Solutions can help you evaluate and shore up your iceberg. Contact us for a free consultation.


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