More than magic

At its best, systems leadership seems to exhibit an almost magical sense of the possible. Where people are locked in apparently intractable complexity, systems leadership seems to open up a new way through the mess.

Systems leadership does not work by reducing things to the lowest common denominator, to the point at which everyone can agree. Instead it seems to help us find something new, something bigger, something imaginative that holds an attraction to people and is rapidly amplified.

To see this as some sort of magic is to miss what makes it work. As systems leaders, we all have the potential to sense into a system, but we often wonder how best to let it happen.

Read more in the systems leadership narrative series:

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Our perspectives on how change happens

We focus on the existential challenges for humanity, which are inherently complex – because nothing could be more important

We embrace complexity and use complex-systems thinking – because we live in a world where people, sectors, ecosystems and geographies are interconnected, and where change and uncertainty are a constant

We take a “living-systems” view – because the world is not deterministic, it is alive and populated with unpredictable people; because we are a part of the earth’s ecosystem and the study of ecosystems lies closer to biology than to management; and because we are ourselves living systems living in a world of both living and inanimate systems

We consider that large-scale transformations are needed to tackle the existential challenges of our times, and that this requires systems change – because incremental actions are insufficient

We believe in fostering (sometimes unusual) connections between actors – because issues are best understood with a 360° view, and best tackled through collaboration and drawing on complementary approaches
We consistently seek to ensure that the voices of all with a stake are heard – because all realities matter

We believe that any person working to effect change is a leader – because people are not defined by their job title
We focus on building and supporting leaders – because we see them as the most effective and enduring agents of positive transformation

We bring together leaders – because they are at their most powerful when working in synergy
We accompany leaders, rather than doing the work for them – because we want to help them develop and own their leadership approach

We encourage leaders to draw on their inner selves – because we believe that they are most influential when self-reflecting and connecting their emotions