4 April, 2017
Our current blog series looks into the ways different organisations use foresight and Horizon Scanning within their current projects. To learn about the International Civil Society Centre’s foresight platform, visit the Scanning the Horizon page.
Faced with complexity, decision makers, more than ever, struggle to understand how the impact of their actions will play out in the world around them. To overcome this lack of clarity, decision makers can arm themselves with a new, powerful approach: Systems Thinking.
A “system” is a set of actors and interactions that form a coherent whole, perform a specific function, and have a boundary that sets it apart from the rest of the world. These systems can be centered around a problem (e.g., pollution), an industry (e.g., health care), or even a geography (e.g., the United States). Systems Thinking is a mindset with which a person can look at the components of a system and explore how they interact and what the unintended consequences of those interactions may be. While systems analysis is starting to infiltrate more and more social sector organisations and large international donors, most systems practice focuses on isolating dimensions of a single system and trying to understand them. At the Global Knowledge Initiative (GKI), where we pursue systemic transformation by helping groups collaboratively innovate, we recognise that no single system offers the full picture. Rather, our work suggests we can only measure innovation’s potential for impact by examining the intersection and interactions between three systems: (1) the problem space of focus, (2) the system from which innovation is sourced (the innovation system), and (3) the context in which challenges and innovations intersect (the context). MORE