Why system change?

Climate change, poverty, malnutrition, civic unrest: the world faces these complex challenges because our core systems are not working towards sustainable goals. Shifting these systems is a task beyond any one business, government, NGO or individual. It needs people to work together, to pool skills and resources on a global scale, and to evolve regenerative solutions that work for people, and for the living systems we rely on.

Learning how to do this is key. We believe that creating the change we want to see in the world will require a growing number of people to think and act more systemically. So we see system change as both an outcome and a process.

System change as outcome and process

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)

System change processes recognise the world is complex and interconnected, and that change is non-linear and happens at multiple levels over multiple time scales.

Our system change approach

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.