System change as outcome and process

We see System Change as both an outcome – the large-scale transition we are working towards to create a more sustainable society – and as a process. We believe that creating the change we want to see in the world (outcome) will require a growing number of people to think and act more systemically (process). Whereas “systems level change” implies the outcome – change occurring at the level of a whole system – the term “system change” in English is helpfully encompassing of both this outcome, and of the process we are engaging in to get there, thinking and acting systemically.

Our definition of system change as outcome would be:

System change is the emergence of a new pattern of organisation or system structure. That pattern being the physical structure, the flows and relationships or the mindsets or paradigms of a system, it is also a pattern that results in new goals of the system. (Birney, 2015)

As a process of change, we would include any change process that recognises the world is complex and interconnected and therefore operates from a systemic perspective. A perspective is a worldview that informs action.

This change process has certain systemic qualities, however we do not think there is one particular methodology or approach that is the “right” way to do this work. This is why we are interested in, firstly, convening accomplished practitioners to learn together; and secondly, supporting people to navigate this emerging field of system change, developing the capabilities that will be suitable to them in their specific context, rather than “teaching” them how to “do” system change.

We draw from numerous fields and disciplines that we see coming together in the emerging field of system change. These fields set out their own processes, language and ways of knowing and in the School we seek to hold and facilitate these multiple lenses.