Royal Roads University’s applied research mirrors its interdisciplinary curriculum and is based on being solution-oriented and real-world focused. The research featured here aims to inspire and celebrate the relevant work students perform in their programs and in their fields. The following students have been nominated as examples of research in action and student research excellence.
Title: A Systems Thinking Approach to developing targeted strategic solutions to better systemic environments
Laurie Jensch’s research project utilizes a systems thinking approach to diagnosing root causes of issues by mapping of an Albertan school in an ordered network, and analyzing the effects of implemented changes made to the network through a mixed method tool, thereby enhancing strategic decision making, and responsible resource management.
Jensch’s project investigates the combining of two different methodologies, the first is a mapping survey tool called Kumu, which through work initiated by Milgrom-Elcott and Berlow (2018) identifies root causes defined as highest leverage problems and explores their interconnected relationships or causal links, which allows for a clear picture of the collective stakeholders’ voice.
The second process called SenseMaker, created by a company called CognitiveEdge, which employs a storytelling approach, allowing for narrative data collection to be self-interpreted by the participants, thus avoiding researcher bias. This tool has the added benefit of generating meta-data which can be quantified into visual graphical displays while still keeping participants’ stories intact and in their raw form. Laurie’s approach was partly inspired by M. Jenal, an independent economic consultant, who states “patterns of change far beyond any hypothes[es] can be scanned allow[ing] us to see parts of the system that we would not have noticed.” Laurie found that this tool has the added advantage of testing beliefs of a system, analyzing implemented changes, and helping researchers see if these changes have been embedded in the system.
Using these two system builders combined in an innovative way, Laurie’s approach can help stakeholders to sense their context, have insight to unseen issues, and provide focused strategic solutions to solve deeper systemic issues, allocating resources to bring about the positive change in their organizations.
Laurie foresees possible extensions of this project, including targeted, school district-wide changes where school issues are mapped, with its unique culture protected, commonalities discovered, and district strategies improved.