The learning journey has four main parts: foundations; self in system and system in self; organisations and institutions; and networks and multi-scale work. These topics are all highly inter-related and highly interactive in the way we learn about them. See details, below.
What is systems thinking and why is it important? Here, we cover topics such as: the adaptive cycle; the difference between simple, complicated, and complex contexts; identifying root causes; wicked problems and wicked questions; and systems mapping.
What does it mean to think transformationally? We grapple with defining transformation; understanding the Anthropocene and planetary boundaries; emergence; and what it might mean to transform our development practices and our approach to the SDGs.
We know that resilience is critical if we are to thrive in the Anthropocene. We explore the differences between persistence, adaptation, and transformation; resilience-building vs. resilience thinking; the role of complexity; and living in surprise.
Reflection is critical to learning, and never more than when we seek transformation. We interrogate our assumptions; learn reflective practices; and employ journaling and mindfulness to increase our reflective capacity.
SELF IN SYSTEM, SYSTEM IN SELF
SELF IN SYSTEM,
SYSTEM IN SELF
We are part of the systems we seek to change, and they are inside us. What does this mean for us as change makers? We explore this through interactive exercises and through the lens of the adaptive cycle and panarchy. Systems archetypes can also help us see how we interact with the systems in which we are embedded.
TRANSFORMING DEVELOPMENT PRACTICES
If we want to transform our development practices . . . We have to, at the very least, transform ourselves. We learn about this through the powerful practice of inscaping, grapple with the need to embrace paradox, and consider what regenerative development might be like.
Back to assumptions again? Well, yes, because changing them is critically important but they're so difficult to see in ourselves. Related to this, we investigate thinking in models, building listening skills, how we tell stories, and how we face the dark side of innovation and our own nemesis.
Understanding root causes is critical, as we all know. From a complexity perspective, we investigate this around seeing systems and their dynamics and learn how to use tools that can help us. We look at how to see and understand power dynamics, and how to see our system in many different ways, using lenses.
ORGANISATIONS AND INSTITUTIONS
USING MULTIPLE LENSES
Seeing from multiple perspectives is critical for transformative change. We explore ways of seeing and knowing; the concept of the powerful stranger; healing and reconciliation; and how all of this relates to generative capacity.
ORGANISATIONS AND COMMUNICATIONS
We are all embedded within organisations. We look at organisational dynamics and transformational potential, communications skills and facilitation skills, and use methods such as peer consulting to support each other.
Systems entrepreneurs have skills to shift systems. How? We look at building system entrepreneur skills; how to deploy these skills in different contexts; how to build teams with complementary skills, and how all of this relates to alternative development practices.
SCALING UP, OUT, AND DEEP
What does scaling mean? Scale is critical for change makers, but it may not be in the way we usually think about it. There are several types of scaling we need to think about, and we need to know when each is needed. We explore opportunity contexts, bricolage, and making use of the adjacent possible.
NETWORKS AND MULTI-SCALE WORK
Networks are key in a deeply interconnected world. Here, we look at understanding, exploring, and building networks; working across disciplines and scales; keystone and shadow networks; and how networks can help to build an ecosystem for change agents.
MULTI-SCALE ANALYSIS AND PRACTICE
Transformational change takes place at multiple scales. We explore functional, dysfunctional, and missing institutions; opaque, hazy, and transparent organisations; and what these contexts and modes of operation mean for change makers.
SYSTEMS ENTREPRENEUR MINDSETS
Systems entrepreneurs don't just need to gain skills - but also need a profound mindset change. We look at learning and unlearning; letting go and letting come; approaches such as appreciative inquiry, and skills such as policy entrepreneurship.
Things never stay the same and are rarely predictable. What's a change maker to do? We explore some of the things driving this, including exponential technologies; big actors, big data, and big change; and disrupting toxic systems.