Preventing the ping-back: Turning system shifts into systems change – Seth Reynolds

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Preventing the ping-back: Turning system shifts into systems change

Preventing the ping-back: Turning system shifts into systems change

By Seth Reynolds on 14 December 2020 , 5 minute read

By Seth ReynoldsPrincipal: Systems Change

As Principal Consultant for Systems Change, Seth works in the Research & Consulting Team, helping charities and funders improve their strategies and maximise impact through more systemic working.

Covid-19 has catapulted us into an era of widespread system change. Or maybe not.

Many of us during the early phases of the Covid-19 crisis spoke, perhaps prematurely, of this being a time of profound system change. Some voices urged caution, pointing out the stubbornness of our systems and their tendency to revert.

We are now perhaps just a few months away from the realisation of a vaccination rollout that should largely permit a return to business as usual. This is desperately needed for great swathes of our society, and the end to the crippling constraints of Covid-19 will of course be hugely welcomed by all. Despite that, the challenges we face will continue, perhaps deepen. With a £2tn-plus national debt, recession-induced redundancies, historic unemployment, the returning reality of Brexit and, for the charity sector, sharp funding falls, the post-vaccine party will be short-lived.

Whatever struggles and successes our post-covid world brings, what is certain is that we are currently still in the crisis, and this gives us an opportunity—a moment to seize.

Our current state between two states—the pre and post-covid—is known as a liminal space.  In many cultures, liminal space, or liminality, is regarded as sacred: a state of suspension from which renewal can emerge—a space of becoming, of possibility.

So, with the clock ticking on this liminal moment, we at NPC are asking what kind of system we should be rebuildingin the sector, and we are engaging others with the same questions. Because without such shared reflection and action, building back better, levelling up, and so on, will become just slogans.

To do this, we are drawing on some concepts from systems thinking.

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Preventing the ping-back: Turning system shifts into systems change