Systems Thinking for Social Change: A Practical Guide to Solving Complex Problems, Avoiding Unintended Consequences, and Achieving Lasting Results

Systems Thinking for Social Change A Practical Guide to Solving Complex Problems Avoiding Unintended Consequences and Achieving Lasting Results Donors leaders of nonprofits and public policy makers usually have the best of intentions to serve society and improve social conditions But often their solutions fall far short of what they want to

  • Title: Systems Thinking for Social Change: A Practical Guide to Solving Complex Problems, Avoiding Unintended Consequences, and Achieving Lasting Results
  • Author: David Peter Stroh
  • ISBN: 9781603585804
  • Page: 192
  • Format: Paperback
  • Donors, leaders of nonprofits, and public policy makers usually have the best of intentions to serve society and improve social conditions But often their solutions fall far short of what they want to accomplish and what is truly needed Moreover, the answers they propose and fund often produce the opposite of what they want over time We end up with temporary shelters thDonors, leaders of nonprofits, and public policy makers usually have the best of intentions to serve society and improve social conditions But often their solutions fall far short of what they want to accomplish and what is truly needed Moreover, the answers they propose and fund often produce the opposite of what they want over time We end up with temporary shelters that increase homelessness, drug busts that increase drug related crime, or food aid that increases starvation How do these unintended consequences come about and how can we avoid them By applying conventional thinking to complex social problems, we often perpetuate the very problems we try so hard to solve, but it is possible to think differently, and get different results.Systems Thinking for Social Change enables readers to contribute effectively to society by helping them understand what systems thinking is and why it is so important in their work It also gives concrete guidance on how to incorporate systems thinking in problem solving, decision making, and strategic planning without becoming a technical expert Systems thinking leader David Stroh walks readers through techniques he has used to help people improve their efforts to end homelessness, improve public health, strengthen education, design a system for early childhood development, protect child welfare, develop rural economies, facilitate the reentry of formerly incarcerated people into society, resolve identity based conflicts, and The result is a highly readable, effective guide to understanding systems and using that knowledge to get the results you want.

    One thought on “Systems Thinking for Social Change: A Practical Guide to Solving Complex Problems, Avoiding Unintended Consequences, and Achieving Lasting Results”

    1. Using this with a class of only a dozen students in an upper-level course on Applied Social Policy in Portland, Maine this term, and I think it provides a clear model that students can use to work with a local "community partner" to achieve some positive social change. The best systems thinking on social and local issues gets us to root-cause analysis, and I think Stroh succeeds in giving us a way to map complex social problems that does that. My Master's thesis adviser was Walter Buckley, a soc [...]

    2. I'll write a better review later, but the best single thing I took away from this book was a very simple observation. I've heard in many different settings the discussion of the problems of not getting 'exponential change' in terms of not perceiving negative changes in systems we rely on such as ecosystems until it's too late (e.g. Albert Bartlett's lecture: bit/1vtJk0L, or the 1 minute 'impossible hamster' clip from the New Economics Foundation: bit/1ANz4C4). There is a simple observation in th [...]

    3. This book is worth reading, despite the slightly lower rating. There are lots of good suggestions, and it reinforces much of what I've already read in the network theory realm. But it is jargony and hard to follow at some points, and would probably be difficult for folks to absorb if they aren't already versed in the language of systems. I recommend Donella Meadows' "System Thinking: A Primer" if you're looking for something more introductory, then this for examples with case studies and in dept [...]

    4. Good, thoughtful, nearly step-by-step guide to solving 'wicked' social problems.'A wicked problem is a problem that is difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognize.'

    5. I give this book five stars. That is not because there weren't dry parts–in fact, given that I have little training or background for social change writ large, that was almost inevitable. But that is due to my own lack of training. I could sense, reading this book, that I was learning something momentous. Consider:Building more homeless shelters is a short-term fix that diminishes the problem's visibility and makes participants feel good, but doesn't ultimately solve anything. The real problem [...]

    6. This book presents a clear picture of systems thinking in action by referencing examples in everything from education to homelessness to crime. Although dry at times, these examples help propel the book forward and serves as a good introduction to systems thinking. However, I do finish the book still a bit uncertain about how to apply systems thinking to create real change: often people are only brought together to rethink their role in a system in the face of a catastrophe that catalyzes this r [...]

    7. First, full disclosure. I picked this up because it was recommended to me to help guide my work with a non-profit. I read some, skimmed some, skipped some of the book.On the plus side it has some very useful information about how to think about "big picture" solutions to to pervasive problems. And I think a full understanding of the material would help people facilitate change in an organization's thinking. However, it was pretty dry, even dull to read. So, if you're interested in helping an org [...]

    8. Excellent introduction to system's mapping for better organizational design. Focused on such community concerns as education, health care and homelessness, this book guides facilitators through system mapping by providing specific techniques and demonstrating their application through real-world example.

    9. This book really gave a very practical frame work for how to think about, evaluate, and solve problems on a big scale. I think reading this book and applying the principles can help you out on any scale however. The forces, such as unintended consequences and reinforcing feedback loops) that make problems so persistent apply to problems big and small.

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