Scaling and Systems Change – Systems Change Observatory at Oxford Said Business School – and Scalgin Solutions toward Shifting Systems | Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors

The Systems Change Observatory sends out long newsletters with several links which are really documents in themselves, but don’t seem to be referenceable on the web. Main new link in this is to the Rockefeller Foundation:
Scaling and Systems ChangeWelcome. In this third newsletter we begin with a provocation from our colleagues at the World Economic Forum on these vexed issues of scale and systems change.
 “For a sector that has long been obsessed with the holy grail of organizational scale, the social entrepreneurship sector is now coming to terms with the limits of incremental growth. The needs are just too large and urgent; the models for scaling we have developed thus far remain too narrow and simply take too long. Conventional scaling models borrowed from the private sector, such as branch replication, social franchising and open-source dissemination, seem woefully inadequate when aiming to create meaningful social change for entire populations. Perhaps not surprisingly, then, many highly successful social entrepreneurs who have achieved significant scale, along with the intermediary organizations and funders that support them, are starting to coalesce around the concept of ‘systems change’.” – The Schwab Foundation, in association with the Bertha Centre at the University of Capetown
Does Scaling a Solution Shift a System?Our early conversations provide a puzzle: Many colleagues report on scale up activities as, on its own, systems change. This early finding has proven a useful provocation to explore, both in the research on ‘Conceptions of System Change’ (CoSC) and in other SCO conversations with wide Skoll community.

We interpret ‘scaling up’ as an organisation’s efforts to replicate and disseminate its ideas, products, or innovative approaches to a wider set of jurisdictions, communities or agencies (Mulgan et. al 2007). Often this involves an organisation serving more people or affecting a larger geographical area.

We counterpose this to ‘system change’, meaning a more thorough shift in basic interdependencies and system parameters, leading to a change in the outcomes from the configuration of a system. We report here on several themes from interviews and conversations from our initial March 2019 convening.Read More
Spotlight – Lu ChengLu Cheng is actively involved in the Systems Change Observatory as a Research Assistant. Trained in sociology and political science, he is now taking a novel approach to research how community-based social enterprises in China create social impact.
How does your experience challenge or complement the viewpoints in this post? What are relevant examples in your experience that illustrate the tension in ‘scaling a solution’ relative to ‘creating systems change’?Tell us
Useful ResourcesFunding Systems Change – Scaling Solutions Towards Shifting Systems: Approaches for Impact, Approaches for learning, Rockefeller Philanthropy AdvisorsInnovation and Scaling for Impact – How Effective Social Enterprises Do It by Christian Seelos and Johanna MairSystems Change – Big or Small? On Stanford Social Innovation Review by Odin Mühlenbein