On the Journey to Systems Change

How do we shift the skills and language of innovation to enable system change? A shift in practice from “changemaking as direct action” to systems change continues, as a movement in philanthropy, social innovation and social impact that recognizes the nonlinear, complex processes of change in human systems. The McConnell Foundation has been actively leading programs and funding toward programs that demonstrate social impact through system change.

  • What is happening with this movement toward systems change in the social innovation/philanthropy sector?
  • What are the new skills and ways-of-being we may need to cultivate to be participatory leaders in systems change?
  • Who might we authentically relate our own experience and embodiment of change in relation to the larger field of systems transformation?

This month’s inquiry explores the emerging field of Systems Change, the comprehensive approach taking shape in the social sector. The workshop will work from the grounded experiences of you the participants in relation to situations involving organisational, or community transformation and change. We will explore:

  • Personal experiences of significant change.
  • How experience and values shape our contribution toward systems change.
  • An embodied mapping of change scenarios, and a narrative inquiry to reveal relationships between levels of influence.
  • How these experiences might impact fields seeking to enable deeper system change.

October’s inquiry explores the emerging field of Systems Change and is grounded in the experiences of participants in relation to situations involving organisational, or community transformation and change.

We start the conversation with a discussion of the emerging field of systems change based on his participation in the recent international workshop. Peter Jones shares his recent participation with the Wasan Island Systems Change dialogue (sponsored by McConnell, Forum for the Future School for Systems Change). The very recent report will be provided to registered participants, as a pre-reading to inform the dialogue.

To create a starting point for working and learning together in this space, we will open and share stories and experiences in the worlds of “change” and map insights. We will stage levels of action in systems change, and see where we interact with these contexts, if at all.  

Stephen Sillett engages an exploration into our own journeys to system change, to recognize and connect intersections among actors, to make shared visioning happen through continuing practices in social sectors of concern, from climate action to equitable city building.

This work also relates to Stephen’s PhD research into new interdisciplinary approaches to implementing projects at the community level, that can also innovate the way partnerships evolve and enable multi-level change at the organisational and systemic levels. He will draw on power analysis work developed by the Institute of Development Studies in the UK, such as: what is visible, hidden and invisible forms of power and influence in different spaces.