We tend to hear about system 3* as a monitoring system in viable systems. Done effectively by ad hoc audit and not part of the performance management process or communication. We rarely hear about its true power.
When developing my materials for my ‘Creating the Conditions for Change’ suite a number of years ago, system 3* was an essential element of the work. My booklet urges people to monitor for effective system characteristics and also for congruence between how the system is truly working and how it says it is working.
Making the system work in a more innovative way, means we have to monitor different things. We are likely never to get rid of performance management and reporting and might always have to submit things like KPIs but system 3* is different. I encourage people to enact it by looking at how healthy the system is, monitoring the internal context for the advocated system characteristics and for the presence of happy and fulfilled people.
My booklet encourages people to check if internal structures are supporting or hindering the work, rather than interfering with it. I also encourage people to check if information is being used as a power tool, rather than nourishment. To look to see if reciprocation is happening and that co-creation is happening across traditional boundaries.
I monitor to see how flexible processes and people are, whether they can adapt, pivot and make change in appropriate timescales. I monitor for the ability to ‘deep dive’ quickly if required. My accompanying action cards give options for all levels of the system from the individual to the multi organisation/ systems change levels.
My booklet also outlines skills that are useful to have in this kind of function. In particular, being a system health check monitor. It was examination of what system 3* monitoring could look like, over the course of 10+ years of using the viable system model in my work that prompted me to develop it quite far in my ‘Creating the Conditions for Change’ suite of materials and in my own systems thinking approach.
I am now heavily using system 3* monitoring in a piece of evaluation work, which has been ongoing for the last year and looking promising.
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Please note that this text is from my copyrighted consultancy suite of materials and must be referenced appropriately if replicated. Please act with integrity if using any of my work.