Introduction to Systems Thinking: Fishbanks Simulation

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FishBanks is a business simulation, which has its roots in system dynamics, a pattern analysis technique used in complex and fast-changing systems. As part of the simulation, participants will impersonate the employees of a fishing company and will collaborate with coworkers to maximize the organization’s assets.
The game will teach you valuable lessons on renewable resource management. The simulations’ learning points can be applied to a variety of contexts such as business strategy, economy, decision making, sustainability, resource management, organizational development, teamwork, negotiations and competitive intelligence.  

3 Key business benefits

  • Enhance your internal organizational processes by adopting a systemic approach;
  • Share the responsibility for organizational results with your teams by comprehending the implications of the decisions made.
  • Improve the decision making processes in your organization by taking into account data and feedback from diverse stakeholders involved.

5 Benefits

  • Understand the risks of focusing on delayed performance indicators and ignoring key information about the problem at hand;
  • Develop your team members’ communication skills and their ability to proactively engage in the team’s projects; 
  • Solve the problems encountered in a timely manner by implementing marginal improvements at the right moment;  
  • Improve your ability to make data-based decisions in fast changing contexts;
  • Plan your resources in an effective manner by formulating comprehensive strategies to follow;

Learning objectives

  • Identify the challenges that can appear in managing common resources in a sustainable manner;
  • Understand complex systems such as the markets in which your organizations operate;
  • Correlate rational individual decisions with irrational results for the systems in which those individuals operate;
  • Practice the development of effective resource management strategies;
  • Comprehend concepts related to Systems Thinking.


  • The simulation teaches participants valuable lessons on renewable resource management, which can be applied to a variety of topics in business strategy, decision-making processes, resource management, organizational development, negotiation and competitive intelligence
  • There is no evaluation at the end of the entire course, nonetheless you are encouraged to actively participate in the simulation and also in the debriefing process, in order to fully take advantage of the entire group learning experience. 

 Day 1

 Introduction to FishBanks

  • Concept and purpose of the simulation;
  • Allocation of team roles;
  • Communication of success criteria;
  • Financial information provision;
  • Presentation of the initial conditions;
  • Distribution of materials;
  • Simulation steps and instructions.

 Performing the FishBanks simulation

  • Activity: Discuss boat acquisition and allocation strategies within each team;
  • Activity: Bid for auctioned ships;
  • Activity: Buy or sell ships in trading session;
  • Activity: Place orders for new ship construction;
  • Activity: Make calculations and fleet allocation;
  • Activity: Complete the simulation and calculate the scores obtained.

 Applying the knowledge acquired during the simulation to the organizational environment

  • Activity: Discuss the experiences offered by the simulation both within teams and with the whole group;
  • Strategy, resource management and decision making implications;
  • The concept of system dynamics as an analysis technique;
  • Activity: Discuss the scoring and the strategies applied during the simulation;
  • Ways of applying the workshop’s key learning points to the organizational environment;
  • Overview on the workshop and conclusions.

 Day 2 - Systems Thinking

 The concept of a system

  • Hard systems;
  • Soft systems;
  • Evolutionary systems;

 The key concepts of Systems Thinking

  • Interdependence;
  • Holism;
  • Goal seeking;
  • Hierarchy
  • Differentiation.

 The levels of System Thinking Maturity

  • System Thinking guidelines;
  • System Thinking survey;
  • System Thinking in decision making.
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