Implementing Systems Thinking into Your Notion Templates

If you aren't utilizing a systems thinking methodology in your Notion workspaces you're makings things complicated. Learn how to think with a systems mindset to create better Notion workspaces.
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Tutorial overview

I. Introduction

  • Brief overview of the video's topic and purpose

II. Overall Objectives

  • Explanation of the main goals and objectives of the organization
  • Discussion of how these objectives align with the organization's mission and values

III. Organizational Structure: PPV (Pillars, Pipelines & Vaults System)

  • Explanation of the organization's unique organizational structure, including the roles and responsibilities of the different parts (pillars, pipelines, and vaults)
  • Discussion of how this structure supports the organization's objectives and allows for flexibility and scalability

IV. Focus Zones

  • Explanation of the organization's focus zones, which are areas of the business that require extra attention and resources
  • Discussion of how the focus zones align with the organization's overall objectives and how they are monitored and evaluated

V. Growth Zones

  • Explanation of the organization's growth zones, which are areas of the business that have the potential for significant expansion
  • Discussion of how the growth zones align with the organization's overall objectives and how they are being developed and supported

VI. Biz & Content Production

  • Explanation of the organization's business and content production operations, including how they support the overall objectives and how they are managed and coordinated.
  • Discussion of how the organization approach to content creation and distribution and how it aligns with overall business strategy

VII. Conclusion

  • Summary of key points discussed in the video
  • Encouragement for viewers to learn more about the organization and its mission


Hi everyone, today I'd like to apply the ideas from my last video on systems thinking specifically to an ocean productivity system. I recommend watching that 10-minute video before diving further into this one. The link is in the notes.

Notion is the best platform I've ever seen for non-coders to build personal life operating systems, and for small business owners to create business operation systems. However, to use notion most effectively, you must shape it into a coherent system.

Previous generation software and productivity tools came with a system structure built-in, inherent to the platform. Not so with notion. In notion, you have the freedom to design your own. This is notion's greatest power and its greatest source of frustration for new users. You not only need to learn the software, but also master system design.

If you make the investment to solve this piece of the notion implementation puzzle, the rest will fall into place and you will have more control over your world, a world of your own design playing to your own personal strengths and preferences. My next video will dive into the notion software directly, and the majority of the videos that follow in this series will be practical, hands-on, with screen shares of notion setups.

But I wanted to set the stage with this in the previous video, to first establish a system's foundation. A systems approach is central to successfully setting up notion to be more than a one-off page or table or simple task. Systems thinking is not the mere act of trying to assemble a system, it's not just learning or analyzing a system. It's a philosophy on how you do those things and more, emphasizing what you prioritize and what you value most in the system.

So, what does systems thinking mean for us as we design our notion platforms? This video builds up to a central insight, a key element that makes systems thinking lethal for a notion design. But to bring clarity to that ultimate point, we need to work up to it. So let's dive in.

First, systems thinking for notion means we need a clear picture of what we want to accomplish. It can change over time, but at the outset, we must define our goals and desired outcomes. Is it to save time? Is it to organize complex collections of information or make elements within your workflow more transparent? Is it to prioritize what matters most at any given moment? Of course, it can be any combination of these or more, but know at the outset what you're optimizing for. All subsequent choices and trade-offs are weighed against these predetermined priorities.

Then, in the context of notion platform design, we'll recognize the central tenets of systems thinking. All systems are part of larger systems, and every system is defined by its function in the larger system. So we're going to look at not only the system we're designing, but how it interacts within a larger universe of activity. Starting with step one of the sequence I laid out in the previous video, to find the inputs, outputs, and movements. Before diving in an ocean, look at these elements in your current workflow, because we'll want to port them into notion. What will be flowing into your notion workflow, a process, and what will be exiting at various stages throughout.

The text discusses using systems thinking to optimize the use of a tool called "Notion" for personal or professional workflow. It suggests considering how information will enter and flow through the system, identifying potential bottlenecks, and designing for them. The author also suggests identifying reoccurring patterns in one's work and life that they hope to enhance with Notion, and creating lists or flow charts to help with this process. The central insight of the text is that feedback loops are important to consider when designing a Notion system, as they can have a compounding effect on one's behaviors and activities, helping them to achieve their goals.

Furthermore, how can the steady accumulation of knowledge in your system and in your life fuel your growth? One item of knowledge is valuable on its own, but combining complementary pieces of knowledge creates something more powerful together than the sum of their parts.

Creativity is less about novel ideas and more about combining disparate ideas into new combinations. How can an ocean system facilitate the discovery of complementary ideas from diverse fields and sources?

How can your system surface those ideas in the right place at the right time? In the previous video, I spoke of the phenomenon of emergence within systems. That is, transformational qualities which emerge from a comprehensive system working smoothly together. Qualities that do not exist in the individual parts.

A well-designed notion system will create emergence in your life and in your business. Everything in life and business is cause-and-effect. Causal relationships embedded inside of feedback loops are massively powerful because of their unrelenting impact. It's not what you do in any given day or week or month, it's what you do week after week, month after month, and year after year.

A system on any platform that perpetually shapes the activities and behaviors necessary for you to become the person you want to be will deliver emergence in your life. You'll see qualities you never anticipated, qualities that seem to form without explanation, gradually and steadily. If you remain on the course, you won't even recognize who you become.

Notion gives you the design control to shape such a system to uniquely fit how your mind works. But you have to know how to design the process flow and how to build emergence into your personal operating system through compounding causes and effects.

Just as routinely putting money aside in a savings account compounds and increases in value over time at an increasing rate, the same occurs with your activities and behaviors. But only if you implement steadily and consistently.

A well-designed notion system will shape the path and provide the clarity to guide such behaviors. It can do the same for the collection and distillation of knowledge, or for your content creation efforts, or your personal finances, or your skills development, or anything that matters to you.

While feedback loops are the rocket fuel that drives your growth, any system that is to last requires balancing processes. You'll try to build these in from the start, but in reality, the work never ends. To identify breakdowns or pressure pushing the system out of sync, you will perpetually shape these balancing properties as you operate within the system.

You need to look for ways to bring such guardrails and counter pressures into your system to keep it in equilibrium. In my experience, the most consistently powerful balancing elements are routine reviews such as the weekly review, monthly review, quarterly review, and annual review. Understanding the importance of balancing processes will help you recognize and stick to your periodic reviews. You make them part of your system so you do them no matter what else is going on. Without such counter balancing measures, any system is operating on borrowed time.

We'll discuss other types of balancing processes as we get into specific notion system implementations in future videos. And finally, we need to be aware of how our notion systems interact with other systems. Other systems inside of our notion builds and other systems outside of notion. This loops us back to the first step above: identifying entry points and exit points to and from the system. How will data or activity handoffs be made into and out of each integrated or overlapping system? How all patterns and feedback loops overlap and magnify across the systems.