Tue 26 Jul 2022 3:27PM

The Systems Change Project

OS Oli SB Public Seen by 139

This is an idea for a collective experiment: Could we crowdsource, rank and possibly even price up, the most impactful systems interventions to avert the climate crisis?

Obviously, It's SUPER hard to manifest systems change - but there are leverage points and a load of existing ideas which warrant investigation and implementation if we are serious about averting the climate crisis. But where do we start? Which ideas and solutions are most practical, most plausible and will be most costs effective (in terms of time and money invested vs genuine change)? These are not things we can easily work out on our own...

Could a project which solicited 'systems change ideas' and invited feedback on these ideas, which ranked them (possibly using the ICE method, which analyses the Impact, Confidence and Ease of activities in relation to furthering the goal) into some sort of 'prioritization order' be of value to help us identify actions, activities and ideas for effective systems change, even if we lack the funds to implement them?

Perhaps, if we ran through this process it might stimulate other ideas or experiments, or even inspire others with funds to invest in the ideas...

What do you think? Do you have ideas or links to any systems change initiatives? Or shall we bury our heads in the (very hot) sand for another 30 years!?!?! (only kidding, that is not an option!)


Wes Hinckes Mon 1 Aug 2022 1:18PM

Hi Oli, Graham,

I'm not suggesting a solution to your particular problems in this thread but systems change and building a new economy is central to my work. To do this requires connecting across our current society and economy and then encouraging and influencing future actions and behaviours which are overall aligned with the mission.

As I explain elsewhere;

At Socially Enterprising we define the term ‘socially enterprising’ as a new category of ‘social action and organisation’. It is people, organisations and businesses being; creative, social and resourceful in such a way that it benefits people and the planet.

The term ‘socially enterprising’ allows us to reach across silos and divides as well as between organisations, networks and movements.

• It is citizens participating in community development.

• It is makers designing prosthetics for disabled children.

• It is businesses implementing changes around diversity and inclusion.

• It is public services with humans at the centre.

• It is social prescribing and socially engaged arts.

• It is social action, social innovation and social entrepreneurship.

• It is design thinking and innovation.

• It is the SDG’s.

It is the type of society and economy that people and organisations are already bringing into being but that today lacks the connectivity between its many parts.

Our platform provides that connectivity.

It is the flexibility of the term and its ability to connect across silos, society and the entire economy which is the most important function.

It allows a society and economy sized ecosystem to be formed and interconnected.

This would be an ecosystem connected by and actively demonstrating the potential that exists across society and the economy for the application of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship towards creating a socially and environmentally just version of the world in which we live.

It is also cooperatives of course and projects such as Open Food Network and local food cooperatives. But also CSA's, vegan, organic, and zero waste.

There is a huge and diverse ecosystem of good organisations, ideas and actions waiting to be connected together. It's possible that once connected Open Coop and its work would also find a beneficial niche by becoming rapidly aware of problems/difficulties being faced within sections of the ecosystem and the opportunity these then create for new cooperative/worker interventions (eg Open Food Network).


Kate Genevieve Sun 31 Jul 2022 1:50PM

Worked w. Sussex Uni on a systems change project recently & thoroughly recommend the group of folk down in Brighton - Amber Huff, Andrew Stirling, Nathan Oxley, Adrian Smith, Becky Ayre. Excellent work, research, live projects, networks - they've a new project emerging too https://futurenatures.org/ 


Graham Fri 29 Jul 2022 9:29AM

the most effective 'systems change project' is working out how to connect and unite the many disparate, but overlapping projects

Couldn't agree more with this. Cooperation/collaboration and consequent innovation between organisations, across adjacent campaigns, communities and projects, seems vital if we are to achieve the scale and pace that is needed to make significant lasting change. This is where I'm keen to focus energy and resource.


Oli SB Thu 28 Jul 2022 12:02PM

I agree @Grace (Rebecca Rachmany) - less thinking more doing. But less doing on our own too. Take Wes' excellent project below as an example. It's a brilliant idea, which he's clearly put a load of work into, but which has also clearly struggled due lack of involvement, or scale, or both, and / or other reasons... as @Ivana pointed out in the 'Crowd-fund the future' thread we all have our own visions... and it seems we've been TOO wedded to these, and the idea that "if I build it they will come"... which, if we're honest, doesn't work, or doesn't scale fast enough.

I think we probably all know, and agree, that the panacea is collectives built on shared purpose, and shared visions: ."Where there is shared purpose, there is drive, alignment, and a collective sense of belonging. It results in happier and more motivated [participants] which in turn drives high performance"... but despite this knowledge we still revert to our siloed projects, because it's easier than collaboration!

Maybe, therefore, the most effective 'systems change project' is working out how to connect and unite the many disparate, but overlapping projects, which already share very similar purposes and visions, so that we are more aligned and motivated and can be more effective, together?


dilgreen Mon 1 Aug 2022 12:35PM

There is more detail on this here : https://gitlab.com/the-sentient-commons/sentient-commons-outline/-/blob/master/README.md

Often, progressive collaborations explicitly recognise some of these potential traps, but rarely take on all of them - for good reason - innovating in five different directions, in addition to the actual project, is a big ask. Rarely do all partners in a collaboration see why it might be important to address something they take for granted - and can't see why that's a problem - until it's too late.

So the sort of meta work that is being talked about in this thread is important - offering bases for collaboration which don't drag projects back into the framework of the system they are hoping to transcend.

The Credit Commons Protocol is aiming to do this around means-of-exchange, for instance - allowing all sorts of 'internal' value accounting systems to be connected without having to change their own systems - just agree a mutual accounting which links them (analogous to a mutual foreign-exchange ledger; internal arrangements are their own business; mutual agreements supply an abstraction layer for inter-trade).

DAO governance efforts are in the foothills of developing agreement protocols for agreement / decision -making that is not conditioned by nation-state legislation - but seem to be mired in another set of unexamined assumptions - permissionlessness/atomisation being the one which seems most limiting to me.


dilgreen Mon 1 Aug 2022 9:05AM

My analysis of collaboration suggests that there are five key communication types that support collaboration:

  • MANDATE - messages with social weight : evidence of aggregate will/agency.

  • CAPACITY - demonstrations of skill, capacity, cultural capabilities : evidence of ability to deliver.

  • OFFER/ACCEPTANCE - negotiation - expectations vs commitments, rights vs obligations : shared agreements.

  • EXCHANGE VALUE - labour, currency/tokens, information : acceptable promises of future value.

  • FALLBACK - conditions around accountability : agreed dispute resolution processes.

And that each of those are conventionally underpinned by archetypes which are predicated on the existing order .Projects which do not critically all of these archetypes to ensure suitability for the intent of the collaboration are likely to fail, as the 'standard mode' of an unexamined aspect of the project will undermine the intent.

To concretise these, collaborations often don't;

  • get started, because 'you're too small/new/young/not like us'

  • pass the 'risk' test because conventional evidences of capacity are not demonstrable

  • fail because some participant demands legalities are in place at an early stage

  • pass the viability test because value is counted only in $

  • get mired in legalities when issues arise


Graham Mon 1 Aug 2022 8:44AM

Thanks Dil. I'd be interested to learn more about what's in your head on this stuff. For me, I see a huge number of projects that rarely if ever achieve any scale - and my own quite shallow analysis suggests that is is about lack of resource and silo-isation (the very process of developing a project tends to create a silo), so it feels like there needs to be a push towards convergence.


dilgreen Sun 31 Jul 2022 3:47PM

I'd give that a try - but there are, too, as many 'how to collaborate better' projects as there are 'better social networking' projects, lol. Just myself, I have a piece of analysis that (I think) is fairly deep and a sketch of a network which could (I think) be in interesting start. I'm not going to share here - because I know that so many others do, too ...

Fundamentally, I think that there are two things which drive this overproduction of projects, and under-commitment to collaborative approaches.

  1. Dunbar-type effects: everyone knows that, the larger the number of people one tries to collaborate with, thew higher the noise-to-signal ratio. This is a 'physics' type issue - design with it, or fail.

  2. Unconscious incorporation of capitalist culture/mindset - the deep assumption that there is only so much air/energy/attention/resource in the system, and that if one's own project/idea doesn't get just a little more than the average amount of that, then it will not succeed. This one is a 'pseudo-physics' type issue - a cultural characteristic that has become so dominant that it has assumed a 'physics-like' quality - so that ppl think they have to design with it, or fail.

So, for me, any approach worth working on must accept the first of these as actual social physics, and the second as something which can and must be transcended through design of contexts which help people get past the second (without having to consciously rewire their brains) .


Graham Sun 31 Jul 2022 3:21PM

The Murmurations approach has a lot of potential. For me it's much more than just a mapping thing. What's needed IMHO is to extend it much further, as @Matthew Slater indicates, and also make it much more automated. I ve had conversations - albeit brief ones at this point - with the likes of https://digitalcommons.coop and https://opendataservices.coop about the possibilities of developing a sort of progressive 'big data' approach, where participating organisations expose and share more and more of their data for mutual benefit, enabling an AI/ML type approach to identifying opportunities for cooperation and collaboration, with the goal of massively scaling the amount of collaboration and innovation.


Matthew Slater Sun 31 Jul 2022 2:28PM

To me the wicked part of the problem is establishing a protocol as standard. Not everybody is thinking about protocols, and there are competing protocols that do the same or slightly different things. I like murmurations because it is a meta protocol which supports whole trees of protocols and consequently seems very useful for aggregating/sharing/filtering most types of data.


Grace (Rebecca Rachmany) Sun 31 Jul 2022 12:14PM

Lately I've seen a lot of "mapping" efforts (like Murmurations) and a lot of new social networking efforts (like Hylo) and none of them seem to have gotten us anywhere nearer to actually having the connectivity tissue we need among our project. Personally, I'm having trouble conceptualizing what that might look like or to figure out how to start creating that. Right now we are all plagued by multiple networks and threads rather than one "newsfeed" that would give us our most relevant stuff. Even LinkedIn generally sucks at finding the right people for your venture. We still have placement and headhunting firms, because this puzzle is so difficult to solve. It's a wicked problem and I'd like to host a series of discussions of what the solution would look like because right now it feels to me that we are not making progress in that direction.


dilgreen Fri 29 Jul 2022 8:25AM

Strongly agree. pretty important to make it easy for these projects to talk to each other, share learning, collaborate on things they need in common. this is rather rare at the moment - which imho means that it takes too much time/effort for busy project builders, for too little reward. Finding ways to tilt that balance w'out trying to convert everyone to some new platform is a thing that needs doing.The people that make things which look good on paper are often in the majority in community/collaborative platforms.

Creditcommonssociety.org wants to start doing it in the UK, but is still thinking about how.


Grace (Rebecca Rachmany) Wed 27 Jul 2022 6:31AM

My personal preference is for immediate experimentation, not lots more thinking. Over the past 2-3 years I"ve seen a tremendous amount of thinking about and talking about, and over the last 6 months more is moving into implementation. IMNVHO the most important thing we can be doing right now is experimenting with new models at local and regional levels before any type of ranking as to their value. Anything that people are able to fund and deploy and publish results about is better than something that sounds good on paper.


Wes Hinckes Tue 26 Jul 2022 8:41PM

Hi Matthew,

There is a fairly detailed doc available on the website.

As Joseph correctly identifies, I'm using Wordpress + BuddyPress for the core functionality. The ecosystem, movement and place-based aspects become possible through enabling Networks within Wordpress and then using Multisite. The configuration is only for horizontal blogging networks if you only think in one direction. Change how you think about it and it then enables a multi-dimensional network of networks to be possible.

Hope that's helpful.



Matthew Slater Tue 26 Jul 2022 7:16PM

Wes can you share something a bit more technical?


Josef Davies-Coates Tue 26 Jul 2022 7:07PM

I built it back in 2015. It's all widely used open source (so it works) but in a unique configuration.

Having looked a little further I can see that the existing website is running WordPress with BuddyPress plugins.

Thanks for the further info. I have similar Big Ideas and feel your pain in being able to communicate them when there are so many different but important ingredients baked in.


Wes Hinckes Tue 26 Jul 2022 6:40PM

I built it back in 2015. It's all widely used open source (so it works) but in a unique configuration.

Nobody was listening back in 2015. So I went into local government to learn exactly how communities, civil society, the state and businesses can work together. After leaving local gov. in 2019 I took all my learning and applied it to developing the strategy which is also unique.

Since then I've been applying for grants and programmes and getting absolutely nowhere. It isn't an idea which immediately shows its potential and it helps if you've got quite broad knowledge over a number of domains. It's a big idea and a lot of programmes and funders opt for much simpler and easily understandable concepts.

But if you want to shift the system you have to understand how it all fits together, how you might bring it together and how you might influence changes in actions and behaviours. It's much easier to understand a Taxi App.

I've avoided Venture Capital as, as you can imagine, I'm an anti-capitalist who dislikes the monetary system we have and wouldn't be able to work with non-ethical sources of finance. But at least they understand the value of platforms and big ideas and are willing to invest.

It isn't just place-based, it's also movements, networks and ecosystems. The place-based element allows me to connect the communities and also the public sector. As a social enterprise I need a source of income and providing a place-based aspect of the platform to the public sector should create this as this is what major modern projects such as Integrated Care Systems require to support their work.

The video and link I provided earlier are useful for understanding the core idea.

I also expand much more broadly and creatively on Medium.

I've also attached a response to RSA recent Design for Life. It was just a response, it wasn't by invitation. But it helps put a structure around my writing and their initiative.



Josef Davies-Coates Tue 26 Jul 2022 5:58PM

Hi @Wes Hinckes I like the vision of empowering loads more place-based action, but do you actually already have a platform with running code to help people do this, or is this still just an idea stage?


Wes Hinckes Tue 26 Jul 2022 5:36PM

Hi Ollie, Graham,

I've been working for several years on a cooperative platform concept which is easiest explained as - A platform for Community Development and Place-based Cross-sector Collaboration which also enables Social, Economic and Environmental transition.

The idea is to connect the system (society + the economy) to itself and then shift the system through learning, collaboration and action.

It's called Socially Enterprising - https://sociallyenterprising.org

Here are some outputs from the 1st Platform Coops Now! programme - https://weshinckes.medium.com/outputs-from-platform-coops-now-2020-3622f7c844d6

Here's an intro video - https://youtu.be/-YnGkLa6Nkg




Graham Tue 26 Jul 2022 4:30PM

Doh! October. I'll be in touch with more.


Oli SB Tue 26 Jul 2022 4:25PM

absolutely! which month is the event? please send as much detail as you can when you can :)


Graham Tue 26 Jul 2022 4:09PM

Hi Oli. Would like to work with you on this if an option. Platform 6 has been working to organise a conference that will be run over two days (19th/20th I think) in Manchester and which is all about cooperating for just climate solutions. We're just about to go live with some more information and begin marketing the event proper. Scope for collaboration?