Seeing the full picture podcast series

Seeing The Full Picture Podcast

‘Seeing the full picture’ is a special podcast series about systems thinking for health systems strengthening from the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research. It was developed with the George Institute for Global Health.

System thinking is described as a way of seeing; an approach towards problem-solving that considers problems in the context of the wider system and places an emphasis on the interdependencies across systems components, instead of focusing on individual components on their own. It is applied widely in different industries and holds significant value for strengthening health systems.

There are five episodes in the series:

Each episode is approximately 45 minutes, to enable in-depth conversations around key topics.

We hope this series will inspire you to consider the relevance of these approaches in your work, and that listeners will go on to be part of a new generation of practitioners and researchers advocating for the importance of systems thinking in strengthening health systems globally.

Episode 1: Alliance foundations in systems thinking: why then, what now?

This episode looks back to the publication of the 2009 Alliance Flagship report: Systems thinking for strengthening health systems to understand the motivations and needs for such a resource at that time. We speak to members from the Alliance, then and now, about what’s happened since the report and consider what opportunities systems thinking has for strengthening health systems today.


  1. Don de Savigny, epidemiologist and health systems specialist, and co-editor of Systems thinking for health systems strengthening: a methodological handbook.
  2. Taghreed Adam, Scientist in the Research for Health Department, World Health Organization, and co-editor of Systems thinking for health systems strengthening: a methodological handbook.
  3. Aku Kwamie, Technical Officer, Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research (WHO). 

Episode 2: Background to systems thinking

This episode considers how 'systems thinking' tools, methods and approaches have been used in different fields. We speak to two leaders in applying systems thinking to business and organizational issues. The discussion covers the background to systems thinking, overcoming challenges, importance of building a foundation for change, notions of linear evaluation, some real-world failures and successes, and how current events demonstrate the need for systems thinking on a global scale. 


  1. David Peter Stroh, Founding Director of Applied Systems Thinking.
  2. Michael Goodman, Founding Director of Applied Systems Thinking.

Episode 3: The science -and art - of systems thinking in health

This episode considers how 'systems thinking' tools, methods and approaches have been used in health policy and systems research, and how systems thinking is both 'art' and 'science'. We speak to two experts with experience applying systems thinking in a variety of health contexts and ask 'what represents 'scientific rigour' in health systems science?'. 


  1. Karl Blanchet, Director, Geneva Centre of Humanitarian Studies, University of Geneva, and co-editor of Systems thinking for health systems strengthening: a methodological handbook. 
  2. Kara Durski, epidemiologist and systems thinker affiliated with the World Health Organization and the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota

Episode 4: LMIC experiences in systems thinking

This episode draws on the experiences of two practitioners using systems thinking in low and middle-income country contexts. We speak to two medical doctors about their work in India and in Syria, get insight from real-world applications, discuss challenges related to resources, training, environment, power, short term vs long-term considerations. 


  1. Abdulkarim Ekzayez, epidemiologist, and research associate at King's College London. 
  2. Prashanth N S, Lead, Health equity cluster lead & DBT/Wellcome Trust India Alliance Fellow, Institute of Public Health, Bengaluru. 

Episode 5: Systems thinking: political and policy challenges

This episode looks at the implementation challenges of systems thinking, in particular the political economy of adopting a systems thinking approach to health sector reforms, agenda-setting and policy implementation. We speak to two policymakers about their experience using systems thinking to develop collaborations and partnerships and to achieve consensus. 

  • Midori de Habich, past Minister of Health, Peru.
  • Andrew Leigh MP, Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities, and Federal Member for Fenner in the Australian Capital Territory.