Understanding "Systems Change" & Lasting Outcomes

There’s a lot of talk and curiosity around bringing a systems change lens to problem solving. Kicking this thread off for a robust discussion, explanation and examples of what it is. Will also share what we think are examples of the same from our world and work.

Here’s a super quick intro:

And a longer one:

Do add your understanding, examples (esp from the development/climate problem solving world)

After reading a brilliant book - Thinking is Systems - I wrote a small essay: A framework to Identify the root cause of the problem and solve it without creating a new problem

If a factory is torn down but the rationality which produced it is left standing, then that rationality will simply produce another factory. If a revolution destroys a government, but the systematic patterns of thought that produced that government are left intact, then those patterns will repeat themselves…There’s so much talk about the system. And so little understanding.
By: Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

But the example was for Healthcare and development:

An insightful report to know more about “Systems Thinking” in the area of “Social Entrepreneurship”

The objective of this research report is to help practitioners
understand what systems change in the context of
social entrepreneurship, how it is distinct from direct service
or “business-in-a-box” models and, most importantly, what it
looks like in practice.

This report is designed for any social entrepreneur or social
sector leader who is looking for strategies and tools that
can influence the broader system in which they operate.

WEF Schwab Foundation Systems Report 2017.pdf (7.7 MB)

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Had read this very interesting essay some years ago Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System - The Donella Meadows Project

Learn to use a systems thinking approach to move from “impossible” to impact - A free on-demad course from Acumen Academy


How do we create change that lasts? How can we find the root causes of the problems we see around us? Most people agree that we have a responsibility to change our world for the better. But too often we overlook the difference between changing a situation and transforming a system.

That difference is a bit like the difference between saving a tree and creating a new, sustainable way of doing forestry — one that transforms communities and livelihoods in the process.

We get it — changing systems sounds intimidating. That’s why we’re excited to share an animated series, brought to you by Ashoka and Red Bull, to tell one story of “systems change” and help you find yours. For an in-depth toolkit featuring short films, worksheets, and more, check out changemaking.net.

Through this course you’ll learn that creating lasting change requires:
Understanding the problem
What is a “system“?
The Five R’s framework offers a helpful guide.