As Albert Einstein famously said: “Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.”
To address the complex and interconnected SDGs we need radical, transformational change. That means change that pervades all parts of a system, taking into account the interrelationships and interdependencies among those parts. This involves basic shifts in values, beliefs, relationships, and power. Transformational change may lead to the unpredictable emergence of new systems and characteristics and therefore partners need to undertake a process of profound joint exploration. This requires a deep understanding from partners of the underlying societal patterns of the issue at hand and a high level of commitment and skill in collaboration.
- What is the level of ambition of the partnering endeavour?
- How are societal patterns linked to the aim of the initiative?
- How does the project ensure it is addressing the societal patterns underlying the issues it is trying to solve, taking into account the complexity and interconnectedness of the issue?
- Are appropriate stakeholders at the table that are able to make the envisaged systemic change?
- How are partnering activities linked to the ‘higher purpose’ of the partnering endeavour?
- Blog: In an unpredictable world, executives should stretch beyond managing the probable and ask different questions, according to McKinsey.
- Blog and tool: Peter Senge article on systems thinking and ‘iceberg model’ of systemic change
- Report: An exploration of the conceptual background and application of the Collective Leadership Compass that empowers individuals and groups of leaders to navigate complex change in multi-stakeholder collaboration. CLI’s publication ‘Navigating Complex Change’ (2014)
- Report: Grey & Stites (2013), Sustainability through Partnerships – see Sustainability Continuum figure 6 at page 26.
- Report: Sustainable development is ‘balanced development’. This requires different roles to be played by societal actors. The fit of roles and partnerships can be linked to the ‘partnering space’ that is available and/or needed in a country. See: Van Tulder, R. and Pfisterer, S. ‘Creating partnering space: exploring the right fit for sustainable development partnerships’, in: Seitanidi & Crane (eds.) (2014) Social Partnerships and Responsible Business. A research handbook, London: Routledge, pp. 105-125.
- Report: David LeBlanc (UNDESA): Towards integration at last? The Sustainable Development Goals as a network of targets, see in particular network figures on pages 4, 7 and 8.
- Report: Classic insights from Building Partnerships for Development on Creating Space for Innovation
- Report: Report from Harvard CSRI exploring ‘system leadership’ in the World Economic Forum’s New Vision for Agriculture partnership platform
- Tool: To collect and link ideas, you might want to organize a World Café.
- Tool: Use the Cynefin framework to help partners understand the complexity of the issue.
- Tool: Reos Partners’ Transformative scenario planning work
KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS
- Current context analysis available and revised over time
- The Theory of Change sketches the pathways to systemic change
- Periodic review of implementation activities linked to the ‘higher purpose’ of the partnering activity