Global Risks Forum 2025

Are there any notable examples of Systems Innovation Programs in action?

Systems Innovation Programs have been implemented across various sectors and industries, showcasing their versatility and effectiveness. Here are some notable examples:  
  1. Toyota Production System (TPS): One of the most renowned examples of systems thinking in the corporate world is the Toyota Production System. TPS is a holistic approach to production that seeks to optimize efficiency and quality. It emphasizes continuous improvement, lean manufacturing, and the elimination of waste. The “Just-In-Time” production, a component of TPS, ensures that parts are produced only when needed, reducing inventory costs and waste.
  2. The Dutch Delta Program: The Netherlands, a country with a significant portion of its land below sea level, has always faced challenges related to water management. The Dutch Delta Program is a comprehensive approach to ensure long-term flood risk management and freshwater supply. It integrates various systems – dikes, sea barriers, spatial planning, and more – to ensure the country’s resilience against rising sea levels and changing climate conditions.
  3. The Circular Economy Initiatives: Companies like Philips and Unilever have adopted systems innovation principles to transition from a linear economy model (produce-use-dispose) to a circular one. This approach emphasizes the reuse, refurbishment, and recycling of products and components. For instance, Philips now offers ‘lighting as a service’, where they retain ownership of the lighting equipment and are responsible for its maintenance and eventual recycling, promoting sustainability.
  4. Smart Cities: Cities like Singapore and Barcelona have adopted systems innovation to become “smart cities.” They integrate data from various sources (traffic, utilities, public services) to optimize city operations, improve the quality of life for residents, and reduce environmental impact. For instance, Singapore’s “Smart Nation” initiative uses sensors and IoT devices to monitor everything from traffic flow to elderly citizens’ health.
  5. Healthcare – The Geisinger Health System: In the U.S., the Geisinger Health System has adopted a systems approach to healthcare. They’ve integrated care delivery with health insurance, ensuring better coordination and value-based care. Their ProvenCare program guarantees fixed pricing for certain procedures, emphasizing quality and reducing costs.
  6. Agriculture – The System of Rice Intensification (SRI): Originating in Madagascar, SRI is a methodology that changes the management of plants, soil, water, and nutrients to improve rice yields. It’s a systems approach that considers the interplay between various agricultural elements, leading to increased yields with fewer inputs.
  7. Finance – Mobile Banking in Africa: In regions of Africa where traditional banking infrastructure is sparse, systems innovation has led to the rise of mobile banking solutions like M-Pesa in Kenya. By integrating mobile technology, banking, and community networks, M-Pesa provides financial services to millions who previously lacked access.
  8. Education – Finland’s Education System: Recognized globally for its excellence, Finland’s education system is a testament to systems thinking. It integrates curriculum design, teacher training, community involvement, and student well-being to produce holistic educational outcomes.
  9. Energy – Denmark’s Renewable Energy Transition: Denmark’s ambitious goal to become independent of fossil fuels by 2050 is a systems innovation in action. It involves integrating various energy sources, optimizing grid infrastructure, promoting energy efficiency, and involving citizens, businesses, and policymakers in the transition.
  10. Conservation – The Great Barrier Reef’s Protection Programs: Australia’s efforts to protect the Great Barrier Reef involve a systems approach, considering climate change, water quality, fishing, land use, and tourism. By understanding the interdependencies between these factors, comprehensive conservation strategies are developed.
These examples underscore the power of Systems Innovation Programs in addressing complex challenges across diverse sectors. They highlight the potential for holistic, integrated solutions that consider the broader system and its interdependencies.