Resources on systems: Communicating the value of a systems approach

How do you describe systems change? What it means, when and why it can be useful? How do you make the case?

Then when you’ve done something; intervened, built a project, had some impact, how do you start to explain what you did in a way that doesn’t confuse everyone? How do you summarize it in a way that is useful to others, so they can build on it?

I’ve been interested in this question for a while. It’s one the reasons we undertook an inquiry in the UK about 4 years ago. Keywords: Building a language for systems change, was a collaboration with ICAEW, The Point People and Oxford Said Business School which culminated in a publication outlining metaphors that help to bring to life the work of systems practitioners. I then spent a painful few months with colleagues at The Finance Innovation Lab writing up a case study of our 8 year old project (A Strategy for Systems Change) which secured my admiration of anyone who makes systems practice clear.

My latest attempt to solve this problem has been a simple intervention- a newsletter. What began last year as an experiment, has become a useful way to spread news about the amazing resources on systems change I come across, to my network in the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. You can check out the newsletter archive here and sign up to keep informed.

Why? Because there is some brilliant stuff out there. People are starting to make the complex, muddy world of systems practice, simple.

I have dug into my archives and over the next couple of months will be sharing the most simple and effective resources I have found on the topic of systems practice in general. This month — how to communicate it.

Introduction to systems thinking

Video: How to start thinking in systems, Systems thinking mindsets, Omidyar Group

Principles of systems change

Articles: Systems concepts and methodology beautifully drawn and described clearly, Tools of a Systems Thinker, Leyla Acaroglu, UnSchool

Video: Principles of a systemic approach, Why use systems practice?, Omidyar Group

Systems leadership

Article: What characterizes a systems leader? The Dawn of Systems Leadership, Senge et al., SSIR

Article: What makes systems leadership so hard? The Challenge of Systems Leadership, me, The Systems Studio

Video: The case for systems leadership Reclaiming social entrepreneurship, Daniela Papi Thornton

Publication: Delving into systems leadership Systems Leadership, GKI

Communicating systems change

Article: How to use storytelling in systems change Using Story to Change Systems, Ella Saltmarshe, SSIR

Article: How to tell stories about complex issues, Annie Neimand, SSIR

If you need help communicating your systems change work, I can help. You can reach me here rachel@thesystemstudio.com