Driving Systemic Change

We are confronted with systems that fail us on a daily basis. The reality is that most of these systems are this way because it’s the best way we know how. Changing systems sound easy, but in practice, the barriers and hurdles are significant enough to maintain the status quo.

Driving change at a systemic level requires an understanding of the levers that will drive the change we seek. Most of the time we end up addressing the symptoms caused by imperfect systems instead.

Half the fight is understanding the causes accurately. (Broken Window Theory is a great example.) Once we define the levers that drive the change we need to find ways to pull it.

There are two options. Create enough pain and discomfort to result in a change. This is done through compliance, opt-out, legislation, taxes, penalties, jail time, etc.

The alternative is to create positive outcomes for support such as preferential treatment, support, financial benefit, prestige, social standing or any number of similar outcomes.

The trick with systemic change is reaching critical mass to overcome the inertia created by the current reality. It does not require mental effort to do things the way we have always done them. No new neural pathways required.

Get enough people to move in a different direction, pretty soon the system adapts to the new reality.

The biggest challenge is not changing the system.

It’s knowing what to change it to.

Vlad Busuioc

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