Systems Changers, looking back thinking forward | by Nerys Anthony | On the frontline of systems change | Nov, 2020 | Medium

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Systems Changers, looking back thinking forward | by Nerys Anthony | On the frontline of systems change | Nov, 2020 | Medium

Systems Changers, looking back thinking forward

Nerys Anthony

Nerys AnthonyFollowingNov 16 · 11 min read

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Image of retro coffee percolator

When I joined The Children’s Society I was quickly swept onto the systems change journey. The simple concept of creating more positive impact for young people in need, by improving and changing the systems that repeatedly fail them made sense to me.

Systems change was a journey The Children’s Society had chosen to embark on. Our organisation’s strategy had made an intentional move to design services and programmes that would purposely shift the focus from the child to the systems around them. We wanted to grow our systemic thinking and needed a way to test and learn more about this way of working and new (to the organisation) approaches. The Children’s Society knew that it alone could not make the fundamental changes needed to ensure positive impact for disadvantaged children. Working systemically and ensuring greater collaboration would be essential — Peter Grigg’s blog explains this well.

When I ventured into the School of System Change I likened my own developing understanding of systems change to an old fashioned coffee percolator. The slow drip, drip of content, theory, practice and talk of change, reflection, experiment and futures slowly altered my way of seeing the world. Initially I was overwhelmed by it all — sitting with emergence, not having the answers, shifting the way I was approaching problems. I found it emotional and hard, but eventually clarity begun to prevail. I see similarities here with the way in which the learning from the Systems Changers Programme has become part of The Children’s Society’s DNA.

In 2018 The Children’s Society, in partnership with The Point People and funded by Lankelly Chase began to adapt and develop the Systems Changers Programme for application in the youth sector, with those working directly to provide support services. I’m not going into the detail of what and how we did it over the 9 month Programme, that’s contained in our learning report, written by Caitlin, which is purposely lengthy to share all we’ve learnt about creating and delivering the programme. A short learning synopsis is also available.

We didn’t directly lift the Systems Changers Programme on completion in 2019 and implement it within our practice base at The Children’s Society. Instead we worked to adopt the principles and approaches to our work.

This blog contains my reflections, as a participant on the journey, of some of the impact of the Systems Changers Programme on our organisation. This is not impact we have quantified, these are reflections I’ve noticed — the patterns that have emerged since the programme began. I note my own bias, increasingly I’m leaning towards systemic ways of thinking and being — attracted by the possibility to make change. I’ve been encouraged by my colleagues to pause and celebrate this significant personal shift in my own thinking and being. As a person renowned as a doer, a fixer, working at pace to deliver actions, I found it really hard to slow the pace, reflect and think even bigger and systemically.

What stuck?

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Systems Changers, looking back thinking forward | by Nerys Anthony | On the frontline of systems change | Nov, 2020 | Medium