Systems Thinking: Rich Picture And Root Definition Report In Water Management

Introduction to Systems Thinking

Availability of safe, clean and sufficient quantities of water for drinking in addition to quality hygiene enhances environmental reliability, alleviates poverty and plays a big role towards the achievement of the United Nations’ all-encompassing objectives of eradication of poverty, better health, better education plus the gender equality promotion and empowering the woman and the girl child (Schmidt, 2014). Profits comprise better health, improved security for food, a widening of commercial openings, and an upsurge in educational and productive periods. Vast resources are needed for accessing safe water for drinking as well as improved sanitation (Bain et al., 2012). Apart from the big resources needed, a subject of distress worrying the policy makers and directors at the water sectors in Australia remains the manner in which the resources available will best be employed in order to realize the highest result.

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Most of the problems of water in Australia result from three main concerns, frequently in mixture: very bad scheduling, lack of prudence and negligence. These problems are linked and may not be fixed by individual act, instead they necessitate communal action. As the different aspects of the water supply can behave counter-innately, responding in unpredicted manner, it’s crucial to have the knowledge on how these components work in combination of the entire structure. It is important to inspect the larger system together with the distinct parts triggering the glitches in the system ((Wang, 2013).

A mindset in systems thinking strives to pinpoint and apprehend the manifold of issues involved when trying to resolve an anomaly, and how the components integrate. This tactic discourages solving the problem linearly — where one sees a problem, rushes to an accustomed or obvious resolution, and expects the anomaly to be fixed without considering the response on the original anomaly — and in its place, the person rouses rational in terms of the all-inclusive network of issues which contribute to the problem impending. When this network of issues is well understood, player may comprehend in which ways their actions, decision in additions to resource distributions impact various sectors of the scheme (Marcela, 2013).

For instance, if the Pump Ltd. Water Company in Australia has installed a water point and sets a tariff for in order to have access to water, however, since this obliges the consumers to pay some fee, they continue drawing water at liberty from pitiable sources. If the management try to resolve the problem by removing the tariff, the usage of the water will definitely increase. Nevertheless, by increasing water usage, a new anomaly of wear and tear of the water pumps will arise and ultimately the water supply will collapse. There will be no resources to repair the water pumps since the tariffs were scraped off, consumers will have no choice but reverting back to drawing from pitiable sources. By tariff removal, the problem is recreated as the managers try to resolve the anomaly, as a result of an acute feedback error.

Using Rich Picture to Express a Holistic View

A superior possibility may be to analyze the system deeply in order to address the reasons the consumers are not enthusiastic in paying the water tariff. If intervention is brought at this point, probably by raising alertness concerning the necessity of safe and clean water and the need to pay for the same, it would translate the users paying the tariffs, water usage and resources would upsurge, and money would be available for repairs in case the pump breaks down. If the management takes this further, and persist with systems thinking through querying the issues they depend on or integrate, it will be appreciated paying the tariffs, which gives money for repairs is just a minor portion for repair procedure. The extra complications surrounding repair require to be justified, including locally obtaining of the repair materials, the superiority of the repair materials, access to competent mechanics, and the management whose actions, verdicts, and allocation of resources impact all these factors (Bain et al., 2012).

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The Pump Ltd encountered two major issues. The performance evaluation in the subdivision of water concentrated on analysis of outputs and inputs, individually, without measuring the connection between outputs and inputs and they didn’t validate if impact and outcome aims had been achieved. Even though they put a lot of efforts in order to evaluate the subdivision performance at the regional level, the mechanisms applied were unconnected and did not give a correct image of general performance (Kayaga, 2008).

Funds accountability put into the sanitation and water subdivision was an issue for various groups of shareholders. Though, it was just a small number of the shareholders who made their apprehensions categorical. Some stakeholders were chiefly keen to institute the connection between funding and supply of clean and safe water. Persistent issues concerning accountability within the subdivision, articulated by various shareholders in various forums, ended in the appointing a technical review of the projects which had been funded by the donors in the upcountry sanitation and water subdivision, whose outcomes showed insufficient levels of monetary liability and inadequacies within the monitoring structures and functions (Kayaga, 2008).

Deliberations on subdivision performance turned out to be a core topic of debate at different plan making meetings within the sanitation and water subdivision. Consequently, the stakeholders suggested that perfection on performance evaluation ought to be a crucial part for the upcoming financial year. An exploration project which was funded by Australian government was then appointed so as to enable a course of developing an improved, dedicated, well-adjusted and cohesive performance evaluation context in the Pump Ltd. Water Company. The investigators began the task by examining the situation of the anomaly by reviewing the published and grey subdivision policy official papers, crucial informant dialogues, discussions on focus groups and elucidations. Fig. 2 depicts rich picture showing the key shareholders, their interdependencies and the issues as observed by the researcher when the research was started (Overton et al., 2014).

CATWOE and Root Definition Report in Water Management

The main shareholders recognized by the researcher are displayed by rich picture (Fig. 1.). The fig. 1 is briefly described particularly the undertakings of all the key shareholders. The incentive for issues portrayed by exterior shareholders displayed by the rich picture may be categorized into three general classes: (a) integrity accountability, i.e. efficiency and honesty through which funds are allocated and used, (b) performance accountability, specifically if the projected results, effect and efficiency have been achieved, and (c) education accountability, viz. the employees in the Pump Ltd. who may be attracted to take modules on the way the subdivision had fared in developing expertise and the effective utilization of the improved resources. Furthermore, politicians and legislators were anxious concerning acceptance by the electorates and the global community. Other members of the private segment were disturbed concerning if they could have an impartial stake of the nationwide water funding, may be by attracting some contracts for service provision for the county governments. In contrast, the internal shareholders were largely concerned with the ways in which the entire subject of performance evaluation impacted on the continuity of hire within the division regimes (Pahl-Wostl et al., 2011). 

So far, we have seen the transformation the Pump ltd needs to put in place for the intervention, basically it is about developing a finely dedicated, sensible and cohesive performance measurement context for the water sector (Diana, 2017). Constructing on this parameter, the investigators came up with this root delineation: “An organization possessed by the water and sanitation subdivision, operated by subdivision specialists and answerable to the regional government, that makes more efficient and standardizes the current performance evaluation schemes and delivers statistics to the managers who are decision makers in order to empower them to make valid judgements of economic investing and the subdivision’s general contribution to eradication of poverty and guarantee impartial resource allocations amongst sub-divisions and regional government facilities” (Pollard Du Toit, 2011).

By use of the CATWOE (“customers, actors, transformation, worldview, owners, environment”) mnemonic, the aforementioned root delineation was decompressed as follows:

With a consensus on root delineation, the investigators briefly disconnected from the anomaly and concentrated on delivering solutions to three main queries which included:

  • What to be done? Modify the prevailing performance evaluation schemes (transformation procedure);
  • How is it to be done? A segment of sub-schemes which means specific activities, which, if they are interconnected, effect the transformation course;
  • Why should it be done? Empower managers who are decision makers within the subdivision to create valid judgements for economic ventures and the subdivision’s general contribution to eradication of poverty, and guarantee impartial resource allocations of the wider organization.
  • Customers: policy makers and managers in the subdivision and the Pump Ltd. planning section
  • Actors: the professionals in the sanitation and water subdivision
  • Transformation: fragmented unproductive performance evaluation schemes in the sanitation and water subdivision converted into an efficient, synchronized and effective performance evaluation structure.
  • Worldview: Efficient performance evaluation of the activities in program within the sanitation and water subdivision will improve accountability for efficiency and integrity.
  • Owners: The Sanitation and Water Subdivision and the employees of the Pump Ltd.
  • Environmental Constraints: appropriate support workforce and bargain the transformation procedure, obtain the essential skills and remain approachable to organizational management.


Companies ought to pinpoint the anomalies that affect their operations in advance so that they do not become main issues. Employing a system thinking stands out as vital because by applying different tools for instance rich pictures to examine, concede and outline the main issues which make the corporation to lack control measures of its stocks in order to meet the demands of its custerms. employing other tools for example decision matrix, conceptual theory, practical modelling, function analysis, framework diagram, affinity illustration and graphs may as well help directors at Pump Ltd. Company to concentrate on the key issues occuring within the company that bring failure in the business and thus translate into loss and poor services (Marcela, 2013). Issues such as what contributes to the poor services to the community, poor stocking of the required materials for repair of the pumps and other paraphaneria, the employees responsible for getting the repair materials etc.

Pump Ltd. may appaly system thinking through its processes in order understand how different aspects interact. For example, employing this method may help the administration to recognize how poor inventory affects the shareholders and company performance (Wang, 2013). System thinking too helps reeem time and charges allied to some anomalies in a company and thus it’s important for the company to integrate it in the processes (Diana, 2017).


Bain, R. E., Gundry, S. W., Wright, J. A., Yang, H., Pedley, S., & Bartram, J. K. (2012). Accounting for water quality in monitoring access to safe drinking-water as part of the Millennium Development Goals: lessons from five countries. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 90, 228-235.

Diana, F. (2017). Reorganizing Algebraic Thinking: An Introduction to Dynamic System Modeling.  The Mathematics Enthusiast, 14(3), 34-45

Kayaga, S. (2008). Soft systems methodology for performance measurement in the Uganda water sector. Water Policy, 10(3), 273-284.

Marcela, G. (2013). The Lack of Critical Thinking in the Romanian Educational System: A Simple Communication Problem? International Journal of Communication Research, 3(4), 56-67

Overton, I. C., Smith, D. M., Dalton, J., Barchiesi, S., Acreman, M. C., Stromberg, J. C., & Kirby, J. M. (2014). Implementing environmental flows in integrated water resources management and the ecosystem approach. Hydrological Sciences Journal, 59(3-4), 860-877.

Pahl-Wostl, C., Jeffrey, P., Isendahl, N., & Brugnach, M. (2011). Maturing the new water management paradigm: progressing from aspiration to practice. Water resources management, 25(3), 837-856.

Pollard, S., & Du Toit, D. (2011). Towards adaptive integrated water resources management in southern Africa: the role of self-organization and multi-scale feedbacks for learning and responsiveness in the Letaba and Crocodile catchments. Water Resources Management, 25(15), 4019-4035.

Schmidt, W. P. (2014). The elusive effect of water and sanitation on the global burden of disease. Tropical medicine & international health, 19(5), 522-527.

Wang, J. (2013). Explanation of Integral Thinking from the Contemporary Perspective of System.  Canadian Social Science, 9(3), 89-99