Tag Archive: leverage points

January 20, 2016

Network Development as Leverage for System Change

How focusing on diversity, flow and structure in human networks can be a foundation for great change.

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Over the past couple of years, we at IISC have partnered with a few different social change initiatives that have engaged in system mapping to both align diverse stakeholders and surface leverage points for collective intervention. In looking back at these different mapping processes, it is striking the similarities of the areas of focus that have been identified, despite the variety of issues being addressed (food system fragility to educational disparities to public and environmental health). Across these efforts, common areas of leverage have surfaced around:

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March 19, 2014

Storytelling as Action

storytelling here

A few different experiences last week reinforced my conviction that storytelling can constitute significant “action” and advancement, including work done in networks for (and as) change.  The first was during a session that I co-delivered on behalf of IISC with the Graustein Memorial Fund and The Color of Words, about our work with an early childhood system change effort in Connecticut called Right From the Start. During the conference session we emphasized that one of the biggest leverage points for system change is at the level of narrative and belief systems.

Surfacing the dominant implicit and explicit stories about what is and should be, analyzing the degree to which they align with our values and intentions, and countering/reframing them if and as necessary has been part of the work of Right From the Start (RFTS).   Read More

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February 19, 2014

What Does It Take to Learn to Collaborate?

The following is the first installment of an email exchange among Chris Thompson of the Fund for our Economic Future, Alison Gold of Living Cities, and me that was initiated given our shared interest in and practice around supporting cross-sectoral multi-stakeholder collaboration.  I had the pleasure of sitting on a panel with Alison at the Community Foundations Conference in San Diego last fall, and of meeting Chris through Alison, though initially through the Next City story on network building for economic development in Northeast Ohio.  To date, this has gotten us to core questions around what it takes to cultivate collective will for collaboration. We invite you to join the conversation.­ 

On Jan 5, 2014, at 1:39 PM, Chris Thompson wrote:

Based on my Twitter feed I suspect more people than ever have this as their New Year’s Resolution: “I will collaborate more.”  The oracle himself, Thomas Friedman, sang its praises in this morning’s Times. Read More

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December 21, 2012

Systems Thinking Gleanings

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|Image by zachstern|http://www.kassblog.com/2011/07/systems-thinking|

I had a unique opportunity the other day with a client to do a little year end reflection about the path we have walked with a complex multi-stakeholder change process, which has featured a dive into systems thinking thanks to IISC friend David Peter Stroh. David was actually the one who put the question out there, “What have you gained as a result of adopting a systems thinking lens?” Here is some of what came up in terms of gleanings and appreciation:

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March 7, 2012

Leverage in Living Systems

Blogging this morning from the Building Energy Conference, New England’s most established cross-disciplinary renewable energy and green building gathering.  If you are here, come visit us at our IISC booth!  One of the big topics of this year’s conference and trade show is thinking in terms of systems.  In this spirit, the following post draws from an email that I recently sent to the convenor of a state-wide system change initiative that is poised to identify strategic points of leverage within the system and its component systems to nudge it in the direction of serving all people equitably in the state and ensuring community food security.  Related to this goal is the desire to support a more robust local economy and to work synergistically with ecosystems.  I believe the questions listed pertain to any complex dynamic system change effort, whether one is talking about food, education, or community energy use and production, and I welcome your thoughts . . . Read More

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September 22, 2011

The System Is Us

“If you don’t see your role in contributing to the problem, then you can’t be part of the solution.”

-David Stroh

David M. Nee, Executive Director, William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund from Graustein Memorial Fund on Vimeo.

Yesterday I gave a general update on the proceedings of the Right from the Start early childhood development system change effort in Connecticut. Today I want to lift up some of the insights and wisdom that have been unearthed by the System Analysis phase. Key to this work has been the engagement of two experts in the realm of systems thinking – David Stroh of Bridgeway Partners and Keith Lawrence of the Aspen Institute’s Roundtable for Community Change.

David brings particular skill and experience in teaching about and mapping systemic dynamics as they play out at different levels.  In June, he gave a wonderful overview of systems thinking to the System Design Team, which included an introduction to the iceberg diagram (see below) that helps people get from more superficial and tactical questions to deeper systemic points of leverage, including awareness of one’s own unwitting contribution to dynamics that yield outcomes that are undesirable or in some sense not optimal.  Part of the shift we experienced over the course of these conversations was the understanding that “the system” is not out there, but as Yaneer Bar-Yam says, is “the way we work together.”  Read More

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June 14, 2010

Systems Thinking & Leverage Points

Systems Theory

|theory.isthereason.com|http://theory.isthereason.com/?p=1764|

One of our consultants just wrote the following e-mail to our team here at IISC. I thought it would be a good idea to put the question out to our readers – any thoughts?

Hello Colleagues,

I am wondering if you might have ideas about two things:

1. How to introduce systems thinking to a group – simply…

2. What questions you might ask when trying to identify leverage points in a planning process?

Context: The group has gathered a lot of anecdotal information, the intention is to gather additional information on best practices and research, however, we are not there yet. So how to begin to identify levers when we don’t have the benefit of having all data?

Thanks for any thoughts you might have on this!

3 Comments
June 14, 2010

Systems Thinking & Leverage Points

Systems Theory

|theory.isthereason.com|http://theory.isthereason.com/?p=1764|

One of our consultants just wrote the following e-mail to our team here at IISC. I thought it would be a good idea to put the question out to our readers – any thoughts?

Hello Colleagues,

I am wondering if you might have ideas about two things:

1. How to introduce systems thinking to a group – simply…

2. What questions you might ask when trying to identify leverage points in a planning process?

Context: The group has gathered a lot of anecdotal information, the intention is to gather additional information on best practices and research, however, we are not there yet. So how to begin to identify levers when we don’t have the benefit of having all data?

Thanks for any thoughts you might have on this!

Leave a comment