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Systemic Pizza

Once you have identified a question that is pressing, you can use a tool called the systemic pizza to understand the issues that lie behind it. The pizza is simply a round circle made of card with 4 arrow shaped post-it notes that helps us to see the relationship between various aspects of an issue. Ask the mentee to write on each one of the post-it notes • their name • goal – the thing they want to happen • obstacle – the thing which is getting in the way • resource – something that could help them to reach their goal







Explain – ‘With this exercise you’ll need to go slowly and thoughtfully.’ Firstly, place ‘you’ and ‘your goal’ on the pizza, attending to the distance between the two post-its and the direction they are facing. Ask – ‘What is it telling you?’ Now place ‘the obstacle’ post-it note on the pizza. Look at how it relates to the other two post-it notes. They might want to move the other post-its in relation to it. Have a discussion about what it could be meaning to them. Ask – ‘What is the pattern suggesting to you?’

Now place the final post-it note ‘the resource’ and look at the pattern made by the four post-its again. Look at how close or how far apart they are; which way they are facing. Ask – ‘How do the four parts connect with each other?’

goal re u so e rc

ta c obs



Use the post-its and their initial thoughts as a beginning for a free-flowing discussion to understand the question even better. Questions you might ask could include… • ‘How are you feeling as you look at this map of the question?’ • ‘How important is achieving this goal to you?’ • ‘What timescales are you thinking of in achieving it?’ • ‘What might the obstacle be?’ • ‘How might you deal with the obstacle(s)?’ • ‘Are you able to deal with them by yourself or do you need support?’ • ‘Do you know what might be a help or a support to you?’ It could be a particular person, a group, a place, money, some learning… Remember to be patient. At this stage you are only trying to get a better understanding of what lies behind the question – its nature, causes and consequences. Once understood, the next phase is about finding answers by developing ideas to resolve it.

To learn more about ecl, email us at To learn more about ecl’s work with students, teachers, parents and schools, visit Or visit

Š nowherefoundation 2010

systemic pizza  

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