Help your organization learn with systems intelligence

Today's remote and hybrid work focused environment places new pressures on the well-being and success of employees, and to the ability of organizations to reach common decisions and manage risks on the enterprise level and project levels.

Systems Intelligence – Measurement and Modelling, a doctoral dissertation by Inclus Chief Technical Officer Juha Törmänen, presents new tools and solutions that can help the well-being and cooperation of organizations and individuals even in these trying conditions. The thesis approaches the subject from the viewpoint of Systems Intelligence – intelligent behavior in the context of complex systems involving interaction and feedback. Systems Intelligence has been researched in the Aalto University Systems Intelligence Research Group , led by Raimo P. Hämäläinen and Esa Saarinen, since the early years of the 2000s. 

The eight factors of Systems Intelligence 

The thesis presents the eight dimensions, or factors, of Systems Intelligence. They are competence areas that are crucial to succeeding in complex wholes in the present day, and important both for knowledge work and for educating new skilled workers. The dimensions of Systems Intelligence are: 

  1. Systemic Perception 
    Seeing, identifying, and recognizing systems, patterns and interconnections and having situational awareness.
  2. Attunement 
    Engaging with other people, being present and situationally sensitive.
  3. Positive Attitude 
    Keeping a positive outlook, not getting stuck on negative impressions and effects.
  4. Spirited Discovery 
    Engaging with new ideas and embracing change.
  5. Reflection 
    Reflecting upon one’s thinking and actions and challenging one’s own behavior.
  6. Wise Action 
    Exercising long-term thinking and realizing its implications and understanding that consequences may take time to develop.
  7. Positive Engagement 
    Working with other people in a way that the entire team succeeds; supporting the work of others and making the “social system” flourish.
  8. Effective Responsiveness
    Taking systemic leverage points and means successfully into action with the environment and being able to “dance with systems”. 

These factors can be used to describe both individual behavior and entire organizations. The dissertation introduces and validates questionnaires that let allow measuring the factors of Systems Intelligence with self, peer, and organizational evaluations. The self-evaluation questionnaire is already publicly available at Aalto University at 

Additionally, the dissertation introduces the PoSITeams simulation tool that helps people understand and explore systems formed by interactions of people. The outputs of this research have been later used for, among others, improving the Inclus co-operation mapping tool. 

Change from the grassroots level 

The results of the research show that companies and employees who are seen as successful and high performing are also perceived to be strong in the eight factors of Systems Intelligence. Thus, the concepts of Systems Intelligence can help to articulate and highlight success factors that might otherwise remain overlooked in the workplace. The new measurement tools allow assessing and developing these factors at the individual, team, and organizational levels. The measurements can also be implemented within Inclus, to allow organizations to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses in Systems Intelligence, based on teams, functions, and expertise areas.  

These new methods of measuring and modelling Systems Intelligence are especially useful for developing learning organizations and human resources. Organizational learning has often been developed from a top-down leadership viewpoint and by focusing on improving organizational structures. The methods of Systems Intelligence provide a way to conduct development work also from the grassroots level, focusing on the ways and styles people live their daily lives, and by offering concrete improvement suggestions for one's own behavior. In this way, the tools of Systems Intelligence provide a new, lower effort way for organizations and teams to improve on their own behavior without massive development initiatives or changes in strategy. 

The dissertation by Juha Törmänen was examined in the Aalto University School of Science on 16 September 2021, and is readable at: 

Video recording of the dissertation


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