Toolkits

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Toolkit four: tools and frameworks for working in complexity

Toolkit four: tools and frameworks for working in complexity

Understanding that we live in and work with complex systems is one thing – but how can we make sense of them? And how can we possibly transform them? This toolkit is an introduction to a number of approaches changemakers can use. Remember that it’s only an introduction. We’ve tried to focus on some of the concepts and tools we think are most immediately useful for changemakers. If you follow the links and references within each, you’ll find there’s much, much more! But if you’re feeling overwhelmed, just start here. It’s a good beginning.

 

Acknowledgements: This toolkit was created by the Interaktiv kapacitetsutveckling för systeminnovation i utvecklingssamarbete/Interactive capacity development for system innovation in development co-operation​ (IXUS) collaboration, supported by a grant from Sida, and building upon thought leadership in a number of changemaker programmes from the Stockholm Resilience Centre, University of Cape Town, Adapt, Southern Africa Food Labs, University of Waterloo, and University of Victoria.

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Chapter 1

Making sense of systems

The first step to working with a complex system is being able to make sense of it. Complex systems, with their myriad interrelationships, constant change, and unpredictability are, by definition, extremely difficult to understand. But there are approaches developed by practitioners over the years that can help. Here we introduce three for getting started.

Section 1: The adaptive cycle

5 resources

Section 2: Systems dynamics

6 resources

Section 3: Transformative potentials

5 resources

Chapter 2

Making change in systems

With strategies for understanding our system – an ongoing task that never ends – how do we actually make change in systems? Here, again, is only a beginning, focusing on a few approaches that are immediately useful to changemakers.

Section 1: Scale

4 resources

Section 2: Experimentation and learning

4 resources

Section 3: Imagining positive futures

5 resources

Section 4: Three horizons

4 resources

Section 5: Stretch collaboration

3 resources

Section 6: Evaluating in complexity

6 resources