Whole Systems

(From Leading Change)


(1) Optimism – that people and organisations have the capacity to learn and the commitment to tackle dilemmas and intractable ‘problems’.

(2) Empathy and humility – in the face of the tough challenges faced by those who are charged with, or voluntarily take on, a whole systems development agenda.

(3) Tenacity and courage – to question assumptions and current ways of working.

(4) Learning – putting learning at the heart of what we do and a recognition that it is as important to honour what is and what works as it is to encourage new ways of thinking and acting.

(5) Relationships – that are founded on the pursuit of mutual understanding and preparedness to negotiate, sharing learning and experience from elsewhere and working through problems.

(6) Whole system perspective – resisting fragmented and ‘one size fits all’ approaches and seeing organisational and community issues within the wider environmental context.

(7) Local knowledge for local solutions – a bias towards the use of local knowledge, held by individuals, communities and organisations, to create locally invented solutions.

(8) Building social capital – an active appreciation of the personal qualities and experiences of the people with whom we work and a determination to involve them in designing processes that will strengthen learning and build capacity and social capital.

(9) Celebrating small steps – a welcoming of the small improvements that demonstrate the practical possibilities and potential for learning in whole systems development.

(10) The long view – being there for the long haul rather than the quick fix.


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