Systems Thinking & Mental Fitness.
You make mental
models of reality.
Right mental models
drive right action.
Fit your mental
models to reality.
A couple of scientists from Cornell University.
Drs. Derek and Laura Cabrera have worked for over two decades to develop the world's most advanced theory in systems thinking at Cornell University. Scientifically-driven and evidence-based, we will teach you how the universe and your mind organizes information, how you build mental models, and how systems thinking works to develop mental fitness in your everyday life.
Learn the science of systems thinking.
Intro to Systems Thinking
Systems Thinking 101
Systems Thinking 201
Systems Thinking 301
Trusted by individuals and organizations.
From Silicon Valley startups to kindergartners, special forces operators to scientists, our work empowers all to thrive.
Build high-performing organizations
"Derek and Laura Cabrera have zeroed in on the most important aspects of building high-performing organizations to succeed in our VUCA world."
Learn a set of systems thinking skills
"When I saw DSRP, I realized that it broke systems thinking down to the bare essentials: a set of thinking skills."
"These ideas have vast applicability. It should be core curriculum in business education."
As deep as you want to go
"It's deep and gives a framework for organizational design that attends to aspects often overlooked. Thank you!"
Not convinced? No problem!
Our approach to systems thinking has been empirically validated by over 250 scientific studies.
Frequently asked questions.
Who is it for? Is this for me?
Systems thinking and mental fitness is for everyone. So, yes, it is for you. We train all kinds of people… We train scientists and engineers at the cutting edge of their fields, business executives in the Silicon Valley at the cutting edge of innovation, policy makers dealing with the most wicked problems society faces, professional athletes, and special forces operators. But, we also train preschoolers, K-12 teachers and homeschoolers, and parents. If you are human, then you live and work in systems that require you to be mentally fit to survive and to thrive.
What is DSRP Theory?
DSRP Theory, which stands for Distinctions, Systems, Relationships, and Perspectives, describes four patterns of systems thinking and their underlying elements. It is a theory that explains how information is organized, arranged, and interconnected, both in cognitive complexity (mind) and material complexity (nature). DSRP Theory provides a basis for understanding systems thinking and cognitive complexity, as well as material complexity in systems science. It is important to understand that while DSRP Theory makes many predictions about the world (numerous of which have been shown empirically), it is very simple and based on just 4 patterns and 8 elements shown in the table below:
|Distinctions (D)||identity (i)||other (o)|
|Systems (S)||part (p)||whole (w)|
|Relationships (R)||action (a)||reaction (r)|
|Perspectives (P)||point (p)||view (v)|
The nice thing about DSRP is that these 4 patterns and 8 elements, while surprisingly simple, are the basis by which you make all of your mental models of the world (cognition) and also the way the world is structured to begin with (physical reality). In other words, it is the way information is organized. The goal in practicing DSRP is simply to align/fit the structure of your mental models with the structure of the real world. This practice, much like physical fitness, is the practice of mental fitness.
What is Mental Fitness?
Mental fitness refers to the overall state of one's mental well-being and cognitive abilities. It encompasses various aspects such as emotional resilience, cognitive flexibility, problem-solving skills, and the ability to manage stress and adapt to challenges. Just as physical fitness is important for maintaining a healthy body, mental fitness is crucial for maintaining a healthy mind. It involves practicing specific moves to avoid biases. By prioritizing mental fitness, individuals can enhance their cognitive functioning, emotional well-being, and overall quality of life.
How does DSRP Theory apply to mental fitness?
DSRP Theory is related to mental fitness in the sense that it provides a framework for understanding and improving cognitive complexity and metacognition, which is a key aspect of mental fitness (getting your mental models to fit to reality). By developing an awareness of the Distinctions, Systems, Relationships, and Perspectives within our thinking, we can enhance our ability to analyze and understand complex systems, solve problems, navigate emotions and bias, and think critically. This increased cognitive complexity can contribute to mental fitness by improving our cognitive flexibility, problem-solving skills, and overall mental agility. By incorporating DSRP principles, the 4 patterns, and 8 elements into our thinking processes, we can enhance our mental fitness and improve our ability to navigate and understand the complexities of the world around us.
How can I develop my practice of systems thinking and mental fitness?
The science behind DSRP–the principles, the 4 patterns, and 8 elements–provide the basis for the practice of mental fitness through cognitive movements or “moves.” By learning and practicing these moves, just like you would practice yoga moves or push ups, pull ups and squats, you will develop your mental strength and agility. People report (and research supports) that the benefits of this practice are immediate. You will see changes in your thinking in minutes and you’ll typically feel significant changes in your mental fitness within a week or two of practice.
What is a cognitive exercise or "move"?
A cognitive exercise or "move" is very similar to a physical exercise or movement in both structure and effect. Much like any physical exercise, a cognitive exercise has a starting point and an ending point and it focuses on developing a particular ability that has functional correlate in real life (e.g., a push up helps you get up off the floor, a shoulder raise helps you pick up a bag of groceries, etc.).
Like physical movements, there are many cognitive movements and variations. And, like all physical movements are based on the basic laws of biomechanics, all cognitive movements are based on the laws of cognitive mechanics (DSRP). You can build a practice of mental fitness by learning and doing the moves so that when a real-life scenario presents itself, your brain's muscle memory, strength, and agility is there for you.
Where can I learn more?
There are many ways to learn. If you want to do-it-yourself, read our books or papers or ask our AI-powered chatbot (who has been trained on our corpus) a question. If you want some structure and guidance, complete one of our online courses and join the community hub.