School of System Change

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Philippe Vandenbroeck

Futures and Systems Thinker, shiftN

Philippe thought he was destined to study the past rather than the future. In his teens he was fascinated by archeology, history and the intricacies of Latin. But for some reason he signed up for an engineering course. There he discovered the power of cutting through clutter and complexity by going back to first principles, materialising these ideas in a physical design, and testing whether it stood up to real world requirements. Soon after he also completed a degree in philosophy, and later graduated in urban planning. Unconsciously he had prepared himself for his vocation as a systems practitioner. 

Philippe spent some time in large organisations, then in the mid-1990s set up a small consultancy studio, shiftN, where he still works today. shiftN provide strategic services 'to change makers for good', relying on a mix of futures and systems techniques. They see it as their core task to help organisations work through complex strategic issues in a social learning process. Although their work is not tied to any particular sector, they are particularly fascinated by challenges in health care, in the humanitarian sector, in urban development, and in food production and consumption. 

shiftN works as a fluid network organisation, designed to embody the systemic principles that they use in their work. Philippe regularly shares systems-flavoured reflections on Medium and LinkedIn.

“These days there is a lot of systems buzz. The School is a place where you learn to see the wood for the trees. I am happy to be affiliated with that.”