Can we as individuals change anything about climate change, given that we are so strongly entangled in a social-economic system that it sometimes feels we don’t have any free will whatsoever? I ask myself this question very often. Can organisations change things? I recently listened to a radio programme where environmental activists demanded that car manufacturers stop building large SUV cars. But why should they if the market (read: individuals) is still demanding these cars and it is legal for the manufacturers to produce them? How is change happening on the level of whole societies? Where are sustainability transitions happening? On the level of the individual, organisations or society? When reading up on sustainability transitions, there are discussions going on on all these different levels. There is the ‘macro’ level discussion that talks about transition dynamics on a societal level – this includes for example the move to non-fossil production of electricity or electric cars. Then, there is the level of discussion about changes on community and organisational level or on the level of social movements – where groups of people come together to change things or demand things, like the Fridays for the Future movement. Thirdly, there is the level of the individual with discussions on how to live a meaningful life in an era of transition or how to become a ’systems leader’. When I read through these different bodies of literature, I feel that the discussions on these different levels are often disconnected and sometimes seem unaware of each other. Sometimes they even seem inconsistent in their arguments or suggested strategies, even though they supposedly follow the same purpose to foster a transition towards a more sustainable society. What can we do to better link the different levels and to become more coherent in our strategy to change systems?Continue reading
Recently I started a series on the development of a typology of systems change (the two previous articles are here and here). In this post, I want to introduce the concepts of ‘scaling out’, ‘scaling up’ and ‘scaling deep’ developed by scholars of social innovation. I want to link these concepts to my earlier thinking around the systems change typology and update it based on the new insights from this literature. At the end I will also voice a little critique on innovation-focused approaches to systems change.
‘Scaling out’ refers to the most common way of attempting to getting to scale with an innovation: reaching greater numbers by replication and dissemination. ‘Scaling up’ refers to the attempt to change institutions at the level of policy, rules and laws. Finally, ‘scaling deep’ refers to changing relationships, cultural values and beliefs.Continue reading
Here some blog posts I’ve read recently and liked. You’ll find the links to the blogs also in my blogroll on the right.
Back to output-only reporting? Duncan Green is writing on results measurement: Can we demonstrate effectiveness without bankrupting our NGO and/or becoming a randomista?
A post also related to measuring results of development interventions by Ben Ramalingam, which dates back a bit longer: Results 2.0: Towards a portfolio-based approach
And here a controversal post by Owen Barder where he argues that it is not measuring the results that is the real problem, but the overambitious goals that we are setting for our aid initiatives, i.e., that our aid money should lead to long-term economic growth: MEASURING AID EFFECTIVENESS EFFECTIVELY: BEING CLEAR ABOUT OBJECTIVES
On another topic: Shawn Cunningham has posted a whole series on innovation systems that is definitely worth reading for anyone working in private sector and local economic development:
- Starting the innovation series
- Quick recap: what is an innovation system?
- The difference between invention and innovation
- Innovation is not linear
- The difference between academic and industrial science
- Identifying firms to work with to induce upgrading of industries (with a comment from my side)
Always good for a laugh: xkcd on file transfers
And last but not least an older post by Duncan Green on using games for learning and improved decision-making in complex systems using evolutionary principles: Playing games with the climate – a great way to explore difficult choices in complex systems