Renaisi’s Place & Systems team shared the guide with our community of place-based systems change funders, practitioners, and thinkers at our annual in-person get together.

The guide for systems change is the result of our 12-month inquiry into what it takes to change a system, and is informed by years of learning about places, issues, and systems with valued clients and partners.

It draws on recent work with organisations including Young Brent Foundation, Spark! Charity, Smallwood Trust, Black Thrive Lambeth, Phoenix Housing, Circle Collective, the Disability Advice Service Lambeth, Vocation Matters, Right to Succeed, Youth Futures Foundation, Active Dorset, Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid, CLASS, the Central England Law Centre and Foleshill Women’s Training Centre among many others. 

A guide for systems change

Guide to systems change graphic depicts the 5 activities needed for change.

Through our systems inquiry we explored three critical themes, which we broke down into elements that detail what each theme means in practice and why it is important.

We’ve found that many of these elements are really important enablers of systems change, but we’ve also uncovered new insights around the importance of sequencing.

We’ve learnt that organisations often embark on systems change by focusing on partnership building, systems analysis, narrative shifting, or redesign. These are all critical elements of the activities 2-5 in our guide, but pursuing these without starting from activity 1, self, overlooks some of the most challenging, power shifting elements of systems change.

Activity 1, is about interrogating your own role in the system by prioritising the voice of lived experience. This activity builds understanding of what’s causing harm. It builds your readiness to think systemically, engage with others with humility and honesty, and acknowledge the narratives, attitudes and processes that might be causing harm.

We think this is where you need to start. Then you should embed and continue each activity throughout your systems change journey.

Look out for more insights about the development of the guide and how to use it coming soon.

Get involved

We are delighted to share our guide to systems change and invite you to try using it.

If you’d like to learn more about the guide, we could demo’ it with your team or workshop it with your coalition for systems change. Get in touch with Kezia to talk about working together.

Kezia Jackson-Harman

How we developed the guide to systems change

In 2020, Renaisi published a series of research papers about funding place-based systemic change informed by a range of people and places about what it is, how we can understand it, and encourage more funding and support for it.

Since then, we have

  • hosted a community of practice for peer support and learning on a range of place-based and systemic themes
  • explored the experiences of funders and how they are approaching place-based systems change
  • developed and tested a hypothesis for systems change with charities and funders across the UK

Over the last 12 months, the team developed that hypothesis into our guide for systems change, with valuable input from various clients and partners some of whom are listed above.

Meet our team

Beth Stout

Associate Director of Place & Systemic Change

Lily O’Flynn

Principal Consultant for Place-based Evaluation & Learning (on parental leave mid-November 23 – September 24)