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Further Reading on Systems Change

Key Concepts & Ideas

Systems Leadership for Sustainable Development: Strategies for Achieving Systemic Change
Lisa Drier, David Nabarro, and Jane Nelson, Harvard Kennedy School – Corporate Responsibility Initiative, 2019.

The Water of Systems Change
John Kania, Mark Kramer, and Peter Senge, 2018

This short paper defines the Six Conditions of Systems Change, a framework that classifies explicit, semi-explicit, and implicit rules of any system that must be addressed when seeking to change a system.

“The Dawn of Systems Leadership”
Peter Senge, Hal Hamilton, and John Kania, Stanford Social Innovation Review, 2015

The authors of The Fifth Discipline and “Collective Action” integrate their approaches to inform individuals pursuing systems change.

Deep Dives

The Essentials of Theory U
C. Otto Scharmer, 2018

An “awareness-based” approach to systems change that works to open the minds, hearts, and wills of participants to “let go” of the old and “let come” the new

Connecting to Change the World
Peter Plastrik, Madeleine Taylor, and John Cleveland, 2014.

A practical guide to cultivating and strengthening collaborative networks.

6. Further Reading on Systems Mapping

“Introduction to Systems Thinking”
Daniel Kim, The Systems Thinker

Systems Thinking for Social Change
David Peter Stroh, 2015

A practical guide to systems mapping in the context of participatory systems change

More about SIMFO – systems change advisor

SIMFO’s work builds upon the system dynamics and organisational learning work pioneered by MIT Sloan faculty including, Jay Forrester, Donella Meadows, and Peter Senge. The SIMFO team provides systems thinking capabilities to multinational NGOs, family foundations, private companies, and cross-sector impact networks.

SIMFO’s work has spanned numerous issue areas touching on all areas of the sustainable development agenda. Our past clients and partners include:

  • Cancer Free Economy Network, a cross-disciplinary group working to shift toxic chemicals out of design and production, with the aim of protecting human health
    Map | Website
  • World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)’s Mobility Program, a group that brought together leading automotive and logistics companies seeking to engage cities in reimagining a mobility paradigm that is safe, efficient, clean, and accessible for all
    Map | Report
  • United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in support of the National Sustainable Development plan for the nation of Moldova, an initiative that sought to align all government ministries through a common understanding of the interdependencies and connections material to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

SIMFO’s methodologies are broadly categorised into three categories:

  1. Systems Design, the process by which system stakeholders come together to form a collaborative action network using tools like systems mapping to form a holistic view of the system and its potential leverage points.
  2. Community Building builds upon the collaborative network of committed people and organisations, involving the general public in the initiative through awareness building, volunteering, and donations.
  3. Systems Financing. Drawing on the lessons learned by systemic grant making foundations over the previous two decades, systems financing develops impact investing opportunities in close collaboration with systems change network leaders and works to invest in critical gaps inhibiting the realisation of systems change outcomes.

To date, the IAPB has engaged SIMFO in the first phase of this work, Systems Design, which is discussed in on other pages in this section. Additional follow up work in Bangladesh is currently underway with The Fred Hollows Foundation.