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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. …

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RAND Corporation illustration of different possible network forms in the 1960s, theoretical models that eventually determined the architecture of the World Wide Web.

As people-powered campaigning is clearly a practice on the rise, largely inspired by the dramatic rise of progressive grassroots movements, we often hear NGOs asking for more clarity on what kind of model would work best for them.

Though self-arising, often youth-led movements around climate and social justice are certainly inspiring, the organizing models they employ pose challenges for larger and older organizations, who are often concerned with maintaining stable and sustainable programs over time.

This is not to say that people-powered campaigning can’t do great things for all types of organizations when deployed properly. It’s just that established organizations generally have more success with a structured, distributed organizing approach as opposed to a horizontal and self-arising decentralized one. …

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Montreal climate strike, March 2019

With a close eye on the world’s mounting (and interconnected) wicked problems, as well as our closing window of opportunity to act decisively on them, it’s clear to me that emerging people-powered movements — like the student-led climate strikes — are the only forces out there moving with the proper speed and scale to offer us hope of turning things around in time.

If I had heaps of philanthropic money, that is squarely where I would be placing most of my bets — not on more research, on top-down persuasion campaigns or in lobbying centrist governments for incremental change. …


Tom Liacas

Progressive power builder. Founding bottom-liner of Blueprints for Change + Senior Strategist at NetChange Consulting. More bio stuff: https://about.me/TLiacas

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