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Craft of Systems Change

Doctoral candidate co-authors World Wildlife Fund publication

Research | Books at Memorial

The most pressing social issues of today — health, conservation, infrastructure, education — are interconnected.

We can no longer solve today’s issues in silos.

We need to change how we work to transform the systems we live and work in, to create a better future for people and nature, write a team of seven scientists and practitioners, including Ryan J.A. Murphy, a PhD candidate in management (information systems) at Memorial University, in The Craft of Systems Change: Practical Tools for a Complex World.

Conventional approaches to these issues may oversimplify them, assuming that we can predict or engineer how our actions will create the desired future we aspire to create. Yet the systems we live and work in are complex and unpredictable.

Trade-offs are inevitable

It is rare for transformative change to happen from perfectly planned and implemented projects. In fact, complex problems almost never have a singular “right” answer; trade-offs are inevitable because we live in a world full of different values and situations.

The Craft of Systems Change introduces readers to a different path: the systems journey. Borrowing from systems thinking, the systems journey helps leaders take on these complex issues with intentionality, inclusivity and strategy.

It helps leaders find themselves in a variety of possible entry points for systems change. It then introduces three phases of systems change: engage, explore and learning our way forward.

Creating transformative change

Finally, the book provides a set of concrete tools to help leaders understand, navigate and unlock new pathways for creating transformational change.

The Craft of Systems Change provides examples of systems change work from the stories and experiences from the authors. They share what creating transformative change looks like at different entry points in practice at different scales and in different corners of the world.

With cautious optimism, the authors hope this new way of working can help us unlock new pathways for creating transformational change.

The Craft of Systems Change is published by the World Wildlife Fund and is available for free online.

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