Blog: ‘A shock to the system’, a New Philanthropy Capital event

Event: A shock to the system: what is systems change and how do we do it?

Hosted By: New Philanthropy Capital

Date & Location: 21 September 2016, Resource for London

This is the first seminar that New Philanthropy Capital have arranged in support of their new report – ‘Systems Change – a guide to what it is and how to do it’, which the Ideas Hub celebrated last week. I went along to see how it would work and to learn even more about the enigma that is systems change. The room was packed full of people wanting the same with a sprinkle of experts who helped the show along with anecdotes from their own experience.

It was the case studies that really brought the subject to life, not only because they were inspirational as stories in themselves, but because it gave systems change a tangibility.

The seminar consisted of two parts – NPC colleagues describing the content of their report and two presentations from case studies across the country where systems change had been achieved. As I had read the report, the first session was less important to me, but I got a feeling from the room that many people hadn’t finished it – so it was necessary to fill the gaps for them.

It was the case studies that really brought the subject to life, not only because they were inspirational as stories in themselves, but because it gave systems change a tangibility – no longer was it just a word bandied around but slightly unreachable and probably unachievable; here were two examples where process and people had been transformed. I came away realising I already had experience of leading systems change, albeit on a small scale, and feeling much more confident that I can do it again.

On reflection, I would have liked to have heard about the experiences of other people in the room; I felt there were many stories tucked away which could have been revealed through some form of action learning set or table discussion. Maybe that’s for next time. Overall, this was a very useful seminar and I hope will be the start of something bigger; if we’re going to change systems, which I think is the way forward, we’ll need to give the right people the courage and know-how to do it.

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