Ok you’re committed to taking a systemic approach, now what?
I’ll tell you what — Total Overwhelm — as you Google it and try and work out where on earth to start.Read More
We are excited to announce the launch of our new peer-to-peer learning program, The Systems Sanctuary, for systems entrepreneurs who are head down, sleeves rolled up and have been working on their systems change project for at least two years.
We’ve chosen this group because we see a gaping hole in support for people who are really in the thick of it.Read More
‘Systems leader’, ‘systemsprenuer’, or ‘systems entrepreneur’. Pick your favorite. Regardless of which one you go for, the concept is emerging with SSIR, HBR and MIT all using it, along with a cluster of philanthropic foundations and consultancies.Read More
At no time in history have we needed… system leaders more.”
— Peter Senge et al in their seminal 2015 SSIR article The Dawn of Systems Leadership
But, being a systems leader is hard work. It’s slow, painstaking, with many dead ends, limited fans and just when you think ‘why am I doing this again?’, a smattering of inspiring, life affirming moments that keep you committed to the cause.Read More
Some things I’ve learnt:
Everyone who’s convened has been there.
Sometimes it looks like a huddle of people talking at lunchtime, avoiding your eye contact. It can be a friendly chat at dinner, “you should really do x”. Or a more direct hand up in plenary, "we've been talking and we just don't think we're focusing on the right thing."
Psychologists talk about ‘emotional contagion’. This is where one person's emotions and behaviors directly trigger similar emotions and behaviors in other people. Emotional contagion means that if you don't nip it in the bud, you can have a full blown mutiny on your hands.
In my experience, there are some important moves you can make to prevent it happening in the first place. Here they are:Read More
am 25-year old Serbian. I was born in 1992, in the midst of Yugoslavia’s breakup and wars. My first year of elementary was marked by the NATO bombing, and the second year by the so-called “colored (or bulldozer) revolution”, when the authoritarian regime of Slobodan Milosevic was taken down, and the new “democratic” era started.Read More
Some things I’ve learnt:
Power dynamics are always at play in systems change work. How do you build enough credibility to convene the best actors in a system? How do you get finance for your work when the people with the money often have a vested interest in things staying the same? How do you accept money from the power brokers of a system and keep questioning its foundations? If you are a funder, how do you get close enough to the actors in a system, to be able to make a fair assessment of the project?Read More
I started to see my life as the water. Ever changing. Sometimes riding high and full of waves and sometimes low and ebbing. What is constant is the change. To think that I can dictate the waves of my life would be like believing that we dictate the flow of the oceans. It's beyond my comprehension. But what I do have control over is how well I adapt to that change. My ability to catch a wave and ride it. To work with it until it brings me to a new place.Read More
“Speak the truth. Speak it loud and often, calmly but insistently, and speak it… to power.” Said Donella Meadows.
When we know a system is oppressing people, or destroying our natural world, how to we inspire enough people to transform it with an urgency that reflects how we feel?
What’s needed is a ‘Paradigm shift’ “a time when the usual and accepted way of doing or thinking about something changes completely”.
In Geels’ (2002) Transition Theory model, this kind of change happens at the ‘Landscape level’:Read More
When you think of evolving institutions, professions and organizations, joy isn’t necessarily the first word that springs to mind. Change is hard. It feels heavy, political, exhausting and serious.
But at The Systems Studio joy is front and center of what we do. It is our reason for being.
And here’s why- joy is a brilliant strategy for systems change.Read More
I have convened or been involved in multiple gatherings around systems change over the years (Leaders Shaping Market Systems, Systemschangers.com, Keywords, the SiX Funders node) and I am starting to see some patterns. Below I share some common strategies I see for intervening in systems, mapped onto Transition Theory.Read More
"If no one shows up, I'm looking forward to listening to you guys anyway" we said to each other.
The 'we' was Lorin Fries, Head of Food Systems Collaboration at the World Economic Forum and Ava Lala from Geneva Global and I. We had been invited by Jeff Glenn to speak on a panel at the Harvard Social Enterprise conference on the topic of 'systems entrepreneurship'.Read More
You've had a go at a change initiative. You experimented your way forward and it feels like things have shifted as a result of your intervention. You've inspired people around you, you have a collection of life affirming memories that keep you pushing through the hard bits and now people want you to share what you've done.Read More
Once you have a rough idea of why you are bringing people together and what you want to achieve, it’s time to set some clear, concise, powerful objectives.
You should end up with a maximum of 3 that should cover not only the kind of output you want from the meeting, but also how you want participants to feel when they leave.Read More
Systems Change is about seeing a problem from multiple perspectives. Systems change initiatives typically work on many failures within the system at once. They are defined by their focus on the root cause of an issue, rather than solving the symptoms of a problem. They typically employ a combination of many interventions at once because one strategy will rarely solve a complex challenge.Read More
I grew up in England with a ‘children should be seen and not heard’ kind of culture. This, paired with an invisible class system that put me in place every time I left the house, was nothing short of infuriating as a curious and gregarious child. I am the daughter of a Boarding School/Cambridge educated father and a working class mum, so I was always a bit confused. I spent each year at my local comprehensive with classmates who grew up to be hairdressers and electricians, and summers sailing with friends who went to some of the most expensive public schools in the UK.Read More