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The Point People Systems Canvas

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This series of questions helps you to understand how to create systems change.

You can use it as a personal aide, or with other people and organisations within the system within which you are acting.

The first page collects together your exploration into a ‘canvas’ which maps out the system you are working in, and your personal role in it, what needs to change, and how this can happen. The following pages provide more detailed questions.

We imagine this will evolve over time, these will be printed out, scribbled over, re-drawn. Be as messy as the systems we work in.

It was created by The Point People, bringing together our collective practice around systems change and drawing on our own experience and guides and techniques developed by others.

Find out more about The Point People here http://www.thepointpeople.com/

Published in: Design

The Point People Systems Canvas

  1. 1. This series of questions helps you to understand how to create systems change. You can use it as a personal aide, or with other people and organisations within the system within which you are acting. The first page collects together your exploration into a ‘canvas’ which maps out the system you are working in, and your personal role in it, what needs to change, and how this can happen. The following pages provide more detailed questions. We imagine this will evolve over time, these will be printed out, scribbled over, re-drawn. Be as messy as the systems we work in. It was created by The Point People, bringing together our collective practice around systems change and drawing on our own experience and guides and techniques developed by others. We’d love to hear how you are using it, and get feedback on how we could improve how we ask questions of ourselves and others to get to a path of change. Systems Canvas
  2. 2. Mapping the current Bridging actionImagining the future What is happening currently? Factors & flows; Feedback loops and delays? ‘Invisible’ dynamics? Current system paradigm, narratives & principles Future system paradigm, narratives & principles Metaphor or story that encapsulates the change Who is in the current system? What are different values & beliefs? What needs to change? Loops/delays? People’s values, behaviours/power? Who becomes relevant? How will you build the community? How does the system reinforce itself? What can you harness? What can you prototype/ test out? How can you measure feedback? What action can you take to help the system make that change? Why are you doing this? What is motivating you? What is your role in the system? What is your authority? Where will there be most resistance? Self reflection
  3. 3. Self reflection: of the system and your role in it What type of system are you working with? What stage are you in the process? Who do you need to involve? How much do they know about systems change? Do you need to do some groundwork first, and/or reduce jargon? Tools to use: OU Guide to Rich Picturing Multi-stakeholder Partnerships guide to rich pictures Why are you doing this? What is motivating you? Are there any specific life experiences that have shaped your desire to do this work? What is your role in the system? Eg are you embedded in it, or are you introducing the change? What is your authority? How disruptive/systemic do you want to/can you be? What action can you take to help the system make that change?
  4. 4. Types of systems B.Embed a disruptive change in an existing system E.g. Implementing Family Story: a case management system that puts information in the hands of the families so they can see and own it alongside the social workers C.Creating a new whole systems approach to a stubborn problem E.g. Increasing physical activity - which has remained low through a ‘sports only’ approach, by using all the assets in the system A.Balancing out an existing system where there are unintended consequences E.g. Homelessness where there are many causes and effects in tension or making things worse. D. Another type of system you are working with There are different types of systems that you might be working in. These are a few examples, but not exhaustive. It’s helpful to reflect on what type of change you are wanting to make, where the ‘system’ is in the process of change, and how radical it wants to be.
  5. 5. Mapping the current: structures and dynamics Who is in the current system? What are different values, beliefs, cultures & mindsets? What are their different agendas? Who holds power? What are they feeling? What is everyone talking about? What is not being said? Who is at the table? And not? What does that say? What is our own experience of the system and what is that telling us? Tools to use: Systems Practice: A Guide Omidyar Group Systems Change: What it is and how to do it NPC/LK What is the current paradigm or principles that best sums it up? What are the dominant stories that feel foundational/ like they lock the system in place? What are some metaphors for the system? What does it feel like? Map the ‘invisible’ dynamics: What incentives/power dynamics/relationships/rules/ behaviours/values that are keeping it problematic? And what is driving those? What is happening? What is causing the problem or imbalance? And what is holding it in its place? Map the factors, demand, causes and flows: What are the causes and relationships? Where are there financial and information flows? Where are there missing flows? Where is there a delay in the system? Where are there feedback loops? (balancing or reinforcing)? What is the root cause of the issue (rather than the symptom)? OU Guide to Rich Picturing Multi-stakeholder Partnerships guide to rich pictures
  6. 6. Start with the problem, and map what is holding it in its place (You’ll need lots of sheets for this) Tools to use: Systems Practice: A Guide Omidyar Group Systems Change: What it is and how to do it NPC/LK OU Guide to Rich Picturing Multi-stakeholder Partnerships guide to rich pictures Mapping the current: structures and dynamics
  7. 7. Tools to use: OU Guide to Rich Picturing Multi-stakeholder Partnerships guide to rich pictures What does a future system look like? What does the new paradigm look like? What are the new system principles? Who becomes relevant? Where will there be resistance in the system? What gets lost/who ‘loses’? How will you cope with this resistance? What needs changing to get there? Feedback loops to stabilize, amplify or reduce? Delays to reduce? Information flows to fix? Narratives to change Connections to make? Changes in behaviour? Changes in power? New values? What is this going to look and feel like? How do they need to act, behave and believe which is different from now? Who is giving up power? Who is taking it? Do they have the right skills to take on responsibility? How does governance, incentives and accountability need to change? Imagine the Future
  8. 8. Start with the new principle of paradigm, and map out what needs to be true Tools to use: Systems Practice: A Guide Omidyar Group Systems Change: What it is and how to do it NPC/LK OU Guide to Rich Picturing Multi-stakeholder Partnerships guide to rich pictures Imagine the Future
  9. 9. Bridging action Tools to use: OU Guide to Rich Picturing Multi-stakeholder Partnerships guide to rich pictures What is the shared mission? What are the shared mission and values? What is the metaphor that encapsulates that change? What is the story that encapsulates that change? How will you build the community? How are they welcomed in? Who needs to be connected? And how? How does the system reinforce itself? What does the ‘community’ feel like? How can we empower the actors in the system to change the system by themselves? How to catalyse, predict and test and measure the change? Where is the system frozen (avoid these)? What shifts can you harness or leverage? (i.e. where positive change is happening, or could catalyse other change)? What ideas or insights can you build on? What resources can you use? How can digital be harnessed? What is the greatest expression of the new principles that you can test? How can you quickly prototype and test this? What is a quick win? What is an intervention which will have wider ripple effects? What is an iconic idea that encapsulates the narrative for change? What short-term and long-term metrics can you measure that you can feed back to the system?

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