Systemic Change, Systematic Change, Systems Change (Reynolds, 2011)

In brief. David Ing.

It’s been challenging to find sources that specifically define two-word phrases — i.e. “systemic change”, “systematic change”, “systems change” — as opposed to loosely inferring reductively from one-word definitions in recombination. MartinReynolds@OpenUniversity clarifies uses of the phrases, with a critical eye into motives for choosing a specific label, as well as associated risks and traps.

Working from the end of the paper towards the beginning, the conclusion points “towards a critical systems literacy”.

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4.2 Towards a critical systems literacy

[….] Using our own form of systems literacy, systems boundaries (the domain of systems change) are subject to systematic changes invoked by the designers and users of systems, and systemic changes invoked by those subject to the use of systems. There is here a triadic interplay between three perpetual factors –

  • systems with their boundaries,
  • people and their values, and
  • real world entities and events in…

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