What is System Change?

Being able to communicate exactly what ‘system change’ is and what it involves, is going to be fundamental in helping other people, businesses and brands to understand the need for system change in order to make it happen.

This is my definition of system change. It has so far (as of April 3rd) been tested on my willing family, housemates and a few friends. Any comments and thoughts are welcome — Do you have a better understanding of system change and why it is needed after reading this?


Systems by their nature are complex. They are formed of interconnected parts, often with other systems embedded within. It is the structure, the relationships, the feedback loops, and patterns that form between these parts that make a system function as a whole.

System change happens when new patterns emerge. This can be due to outside factors having an impact, or developments and disruptions within.

Think about our world as a system, made up of other systems embedded within it. For example, the planet’s diverse habitats such as the rainforest are ecosystems, you are a systems of cells, I live in the ‘system’ of London, we are part of our societal ‘system’.

As a race, we have put so much pressure on our world system, that we are now living in what is being called the age of the Anthropocene, a new geological era for earth that is defined as being influenced by humans. We need to do something to change the systems we’ve created and our relationships with the planet, and each other, before a tipping point of no return is reached.

It is important for brands to understand their role in the wider world system, and to recognise the part they could play in creating positive change. Is it possible for them to harness the momentum of emerging mindsets, upcoming generations and the increasing appetite and demand for better business with purpose? In an age where ‘brand’ is everything to loyal fans, customers and audiences, businesses have the opportunity to change their own behaviour, create sustainable supply chains, set example and change attitudes by demonstrating responsible values to help pioneer a shift towards a happy, healthy future planet.

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