Systemic insight: an alternative to Theory of Change

This blog has first been published on my personal blog site.

I have been blogging quite extensively about the Theory of Change (ToC) approach in recent months. My blog posts reflect a process that I have been going through as part of my different work engagements: adapt ToC approaches to be more sensitive to the complexities development programmes face in their day-to-day work.

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Different phases of Systemic Insight

In parallel, with my colleagues at Mesopartner we keep doing research on understanding complex realities and our human reaction to them based on cognitive science, understanding the process of economic change, making decisions under conditions of uncertainty, and managing highly resilient organisations. In these contexts, ToC has limited applicability and a number of drawbacks. Therefore, we have been working on an alternative approach to the ToC approach which we built from the ground up based on our growing understanding of how complex systems work and how involved actors can lead a process of exploration and change. The approach is called Systemic Insight. Continue reading

A new framework for assessing systemic change

Over the last year or so I was hired by a large market systems development programme in Bangladesh to develop a new framework for assessing systemic change for them. We did an initial feasibility study and then a larger pilot study. The report of the pilot study has now been published. Rather than to bore you with the whole report, I would like to share the conceptual thinking behind the framework and the framework itself in this post. In a later post, I will share the methodology. This is not the end of all wisdom and the silver bullet framework everybody has been looking for. For me this is an important step to bring my work and thinking over the last couple of years together into something practically applicable. But this work is not done as I am embarking on a longer research project on systemic change. So there is more learning to come and with it more development of this tool. Please share your thoughts, which would help me to further improve the framework. Continue reading

Blog series on Theory of Change

If you are not following my personal blog, I would encourage you to check out my recent blog post series on the use of a Theory of Change approach in complex development programmes. There are four blog posts in the series:

Enjoy reading!

Thinking out loud: Is aid systematically unsystemic?

This a cross posting from my own blogsite. Marcus and I decided that the content also fits the Systemic Insight blog.

Shawn Cunningham's Weblog

I am taking a risk with this post, but I am sure my regular readers will tolerate this attempt to think out loud. I have been fortunate in the last months to focus my praxis almost completely on the topic of complexity and systems thinking in development, with a particular emphasis on innovation systems and the technological evolution of industries and regions. This is partly why you have not heard from me in the last 2 months. Shifting from advocating for a different approach to actually assisting with the shift has been a really exciting venture.

Disclaimer: These thoughts are my own and not of Mesopartner. 

In Mesopartner, systems and complexity thinking is now central in our work (see your Systemic-Insight theme page). Not surprisingly, my main customers for working on systems and complexity is not development programmes per se, but meso level institutions tasked with supporting…

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