As I may have mentioned a little too often recently, I’m about to start an MSc in Systems Thinking. So I’m always on the lookout for useful resources relating to the topic.

I came across this one by Jennie Winhall and Charles Leadbeater from last year, which discusses how system innovation is driven by reshaping relationships within the system. It identifies four keys to system innovation: purpose, power, relationships, and resource flows. The focus is on relationships, which are the patterns of interactions between parts of a system. Transforming a system requires altering these relationships, which in turn unlocks other keys like purpose and power.

(Over a decade ago, I lined up to talk with Leadbeater after his talk at Online Educa Berlin. I was going to ask him something specific about his most recent book, but as everyone before him gushed over it, I think I just mumbled something about not liking it and then sloped off. Not my finest moment. Apologies, Charles, if by some reason you’re reading this!)

Systems are defined by the patterns of interactions between their parts: their relationships. Those interactions generate the outcomes of the system as a whole. Transforming the outcomes of a system requires remaking its relationships and then unlocking the other keys to system innovation: purpose, power and resources. This shift in relationships allows all those in the system to learn faster, to be more creative. System innovators redesign the relationships in the system to allow dramatically enhanced learning across the system, and thereby generate far better outcomes.
Source: The Patterns of Possibility | The System Innovation Initiative