Tue 26 Jul 2022 3:27PM

The Systems Change Project

OS Oli SB Public Seen by 141

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.

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