The potential of systems thinking and social innovation to effect significant change at multiple different scales is massive, especially in the development sector. However, a lack of accessible resources and modules around this school of thought limit its potential to be utilised by actors and stakeholders in the field. Development Alternatives has been involved in the discourse and praxis around systems thinking and innovation in its role leading the Asia Hub in a global collaborative of social innovators— systems play.
systems play provides single-window access to knowledge resources for change-makers and acts as a platform for stories in the form of case studies, tools, modules, and resources. These help to build evidence in favour of systems change as well as support the co-creation of solutions that reach out across sectors, stakeholders, and scales.
The systems play website (www.systemsplay.com) saw the launch of the ‘Supermini Course’ on October 31, 2018.
This global collaborative has evolved out of the Rockefeller Foundation Global Fellowship Program on Social Innovation. With learning from that initiative and further research, practical needs of system innovators that aren’t easily met through other sources were identified. The Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Cape Town is the institutional home of systems play, and three regional hubs in Africa, Latin America and Asia have been established in a connected, global network of practitioners. As the leader of the Asia Hub, Development Alternatives focuses on entrepreneurship and job creation.
The newly introduced ‘Supermini Courses’ are a series of online micro-courses, each on a topic related to social innovation. The first in this series is a course on developmental evaluation in complex systems, a methodology that finds application in monitoring and evaluation processes.
This Supermini Course aims to orient the reader towards resources around systems thinking while also providing a small learning experience along the way.
A platform that emphasises the ‘doing’ as much as the ‘learning’, going forward, systems play aims to create physical and virtual platforms through workshops, webinars, and hackathons for potential change makers on the ground. The Supermini Courses augment these future plans by making knowledge about systems entrepreneurship concise, simple and accessible, especially for self-learners. We plan to expand this course series by including topics like the adaptive cycle, co-creation methodology, and tools to enhance deep listening so that these may become powerful, nuanced tools to deepen impact. These courses, like the modules on social innovation already available on the systems play platform, will also be translated into languages like Hindi, Portuguese, Spanish and Swahili to widen their reach.
With the mandate: ‘Collaborate to Innovate, for people and planet’, systems play is a growing ‘community of practice’ of systems innovators who are keen to build evidence on systems change. In the coming phases, we hope that this platform acts as a one-stop centre for material on systems entrepreneurship for academics, students, and other non-profit, private and government stakeholders alike. To be a part of the community, visit www.systemsplay.com to find out more.
The views expressed in the article are those of the author’s and not necessarily those of Development Alternatives.