What is systems change and how do we make it?
Systems change is about advancing equity by shifting the conditions that hold a problem in place.
—The Water of Systems Change by John Kania, Mark Kramer, and Peter Senge
There are six conditions that need to be addressed TOGETHER in order to effectively make systems change.
- Resource Flows
- Relationships and Connections
- Power Dynamics
- Mental Models (which we also call Beliefs or Ideology)
Policies, practices, and resource flows are structural change; relationships and connections and power dynamics are relational change; and mental models or beliefs or ideology are transformative change.
This image lists out the six conditions of systems change in an upside-down triangle graphic that suggests how these conditions are like an iceberg. The three structural change components listed at the top are explicit, like the visible part of an iceberg, whereas the transformative change listed at the bottom is implicit, like the iceberg below the water line. It’s a beautiful way to share this framework.
For more information, check out The Water of Systems Change by John Kania, Mark Kramer, and Peter Senge