Change isn’t all about going in and ‘doing something’ to someone and then leaving them to it. To be effective, it is a whole lot more than that. Building the conditions for change is as important as the change itself. But, what do I mean by that? Well, you can ‘diagnose’ a situation and discover what is not working so well. There are many different approaches for doing that, all of which might uncover similar things about the situation. But there’s another piece of work required and that is helping people to build the conditions that will allow changes to be made not just now, as you need them at this point in time, but on an ongoing basis, in a co-evolutionary way. One off change often doesn’t ‘stick’. You might get a financial saving, economies of flow and organisation but unless you have created the right conditions for the thinking that crated the change to flourish on an ongoing basis, your ‘win’ may be short and sharp and it is likely that the situation will, at some point, rebound right back to where it started.
Some of my work lately is around ‘system change’ and for system change is it important to create the conditions for change. In my newly developed training, I take people through the following questions:
- How might you engage in peer to peer collaborations?
- How might you instigate and implement change yourself, within the span of your autonomy;
- How can you strengthen community, develop networks, collaborate and work together with people outside of your own team on an ongoing basis (particularly bringing in the voice of lived experience);
- How can you contribute to internal system coherence;
- How can you bring humanity and balance back into the work;
- How do you make joint decisions, decide upon joint goals and decide what level of performance is reasonable;
- How do you ensure effective system characteristics;
- How do you ensure congruence between the system and its vision;
- How do you build external relationships and gather intelligence about the world around you;
- How do you ‘pivot’ and change quickly enough;
- And how do you get that joint vision, meaning, purpose and identity?
These are some starting questions I use to help those who are trying to create the conditions for System change. I use my Systems Thinking Change Wheel to highlight and explore these questions and then bring in a set of Action Cards to help people take the thinking and make it into a reality. I don’t ‘do to’ people, I help them think about the situation themselves, create their own meaning, identity and purposes and then work with them by supporting them to start developing the conditions that are required. It isn’t an easy journey or a quick one. You need to be in it for the long haul and that is why it is important that you engage in systems and complexity thinking for yourself. No one can do it for you, even if they lead you to believe they can.
Creating the conditions for change using systems and complexity thinking. Spoiler alert….it’s down to you! (with other people’s help to get you started and occasionally to keep you on the right track).
If you are interested in a training session (as a group) then please do get in touch