The Point People
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The Point People

Systems Changers in their own words

At the end of our first Systems Changers residential, we asked our cohort to share their feedback on the parts of the programme they’d experienced so far. We wanted to understand how they’d interpreted it — what the point was, and why it was important.

We asked them five questions: what “Systems Changers” was, why it was needed, who they saw themselves as within the constructs of the programme, what they were learning, and what they were excited about.

Here’s what they had to say, along with some analysis of what we think that feedback represents.

1. Systems changers is…

Quite a few people saw Systems Changers as something new they hadn’t encountered in their previous work.

  • A new, innovative approach of using frontline workers to gather data
  • A creative way to change things
  • A new approach that hasn’t been done before
  • A new way of thinking and changing services

Others called out that the programme was about bringing people with the same mindset together.

  • A group of like-minded people
  • A group of likeminded people who want to affect lives positively
  • The start of a movement with a collective of people who have a common goal
  • A group of people unhappy and uncomfortable with the way things work for the people they support, coming together to shake the system up for the better

And others talked about the fact that the programme was specifically organised for frontline workers.

  • A programme to equip and empower people working on the frontline to create change that lasts
  • A programme to enable people on the frontline to impact the systems in which they work
  • Giving a voice to frontline workers

2. Systems Changers is needed because…

Power imbalances, and people’s voices not being heard, was a big part of why people thought a programme like Systems Changers was needed.

  • The voices and insights of frontline workers aren’t heard enough
  • People on the frontline have real insights into the lives of service users that doesn’t normally get heard
  • There is an imbalance in power where voices of frontline workers and service users are rarely heard
  • To empower many others to have courage to change future systems

There was also a strong negative feeling around current systems. Interestingly, nobody was frustrated because they personally weren’t being heard — what was upsetting was that the systems were failing people, especially those facing severe and multiple disadvantages.

  • We’ve let things be for too long and people are suffering here as a result
  • Too much knowledge is getting lost
  • Because people deserve better!
  • The systems don’t work for people
  • Problems that were tough are about to get tougher

Even though they weren’t happy with the status quo, people were still hopeful that there was a better way.

  • We have the ideas, suggestions and potential solutions to how systems can be moulded, shaped and changed to be inclusive and work for all
  • All things need development and change is good
  • It’s time for a movement of change

3. We are…

One of the nicest things about this survey was seeing how hopeful and engaged the frontline workers were to be part of the programme.

  • We are a likeminded group of people who want to make change happen
  • Combining our thoughts, voices and insights to make a bigger noise
  • Trying to find new and exciting ways of being more effective
  • Keen to work together to develop new ideas
  • Creating a new way of working
  • Learning and exploring the ways that our insights can influence the system

4. We are learning to…

We also loved how the two main things our cohort was learning were to support one another and challenge the things they didn’t like.

  • Consider multiple perspectives
  • Embrace creativity and flexibility
  • Be supportive of each other, listening deeply to each perspective and combining them to inspire creative change
  • Challenge and question everything
  • Challenge perceptions
  • Ask difficult questions

5. This is exciting because…

These answers tie in with question #2. They really show how stagnant frontline workers can feel in their current systems and how much they want things to change.

The cohort felt like the programme was something they hadn’t encountered before.

  • It is not the norm
  • It is something that is new and has never been done before

And because of that, it felt like it had the chance to make a real impact.

  • It has positive energy
  • Energises individual and organisations
  • It has potential to really influence how things are done
  • Questions that have been asked for a long time, will be addressed
  • We believe in change and want to make it happen
  • So many people have the same passion for change that it gives tangible hope

This was a really powerful activity to do with the group at the end of the opening residential. It was a way of us hearing what the Systems Changers cohort had understood and identified with from the introductory content of the programme. However it was even more valuable that the cohort themselves had found a way to describe the programme in their own words, so they share a story about the programme more widely.

This is a new venture that is teaching me that I CAN and that YOU can.

2015 Systems Changer



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Cassie Robinson.

Cassie Robinson.


Working with Joseph Rowntree Foundation, EarthPercent, P4NE, Policy Fellow IIPP, Co-founder Point People, Founder Stewarding Loss, International Futures Forum.