Systems-change guides at a time when we really need to change the system

Tom Liacas (he-him)
2 min readJun 30, 2020


From Flood, R. and Jackson, M. (1993) Creative problem solving: Total systems intervention. Wiley. Fig 1.1, pp. 6 found in Think NPC’s — Systems change: A guide to what it is and how to do it (download link below)

The “crisis within a crisis” moment we are living through right now, rising up against white supremacy and anti-black racism in the midst of a global pandemic, is a testament to how complex and downright systemic the problems we face have become.

More than ever, progressive organizers see the wisdom of aiming for big changes — systems-wide changes — to secure a more just, caring and sustainable world into the future.

And as we grapple with all of this, it just so turns out that the awesome volunteer crew at Blueprints for Change, along with friends at Mobilisation Lab, have put out two new (related) guides to help you apply systems thinking to campaign strategy and planning.

These guides were created thanks to the ideas and experience shared by our partners at Mobilisation Lab, as well as direct contributions from Amnesty International, the One Campaign, Greenpeace and the publicly-shared thinking of Omidyar Group, NPC, NEON, SmartCSOs, Re-Amp, New Tactics in Human Rights, Eva Schiffer, and The Center for Story-based Strategy.

The Systems thinking for campaigning and organizing guide focuses on how to apply an overarching systems thinking lens and approach to campaigning and organizing work. Doing so can help us to make sense of the complex, messy problems we work on and identify “leverage points” that we can build our campaigns around in order to focus them on driving deep, systemic change.

>>View the Systems thinking for campaigning and organizing guide here

The Systems mapping for campaign design guide dives into one of the key tools in a systems thinker’s toolbox, systems mapping, and how to integrate these tools into a campaign design process. Systems mapping can help us to design more strategic campaigns for systems change by helping us to disentangle the complex web of forces, relationships and mental models (values, beliefs and assumptions) that underpin the systems we seek to shift.

>>View the Systems mapping for campaign design guide here

***Also suggest a download of the excellent New Philanthropy Capital Guide in which the cover image was found: Systems change: A guide to what it is and how to do it



Tom Liacas (he-him)

Power builder for justice-oriented movements. Founded: Blueprints for Change, Climate Justice Organizing HUB, Global Grassroots Support Network.