Systems leadership and systems change — what are we trying to achieve?

What does these practices mean to you?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this, from place-based change in public services to the systems change and systems leadership movements.

I have three pieces out at the moment:

Local Government Chronicle: what will it actually take to make place-based working work?

This always fails, and has failed consistently since the start of the NHS

What can work is:

  • doing boring well
  • keeping tight hold on the leaders who want to change and
  • recognising that many others will leave

This second edition comes hot on the heels of the first, as I try to move to Saturday publishing and get into a rhythm. There’s a bit of duplication from the first edition just to focus on our upcoming

systems/complexity/cybernetics, public/service/transformation

23 June, RedQuadrant tool shed show-and-tell session

Over nearly twenty-four years of service transformation, 15 as a consultant, and twelve years of running RedQuadrant as a network consultancy, I have developed a rich multi-methodology approach which is highly applicable for anyone who wants to transform organisations and their results.

This is a taster of the opportunity to join a small group…

I’m launching a newsletter on Revue!

What do you think of it?

Today’s inaugural edition is at

What do you think of it?

Contents include:

- How should public services change as a result of COVID19? Join The Public Service Transformation Academy’s learning community on 23 June.

- Child exploitation is everyone’s business — contextual safeguarding can help. And news of a really exciting person working with RedQuadrant in children’s social care

- the potential to move to true asset-based commissioning — paradigm shift or just a temporary slip?

- my tips in the Local Government Chronicle on making…

There is no transformation without insight.

Helping actual customer or citizens achieve their purposes is the purpose of organisations.

Yet organisations in public and private sector are often like the drunk under the streetlamp — looking where they can see, not where the keys are.

I have three passions:

- transforming public services, rooted in citizen and community outcomes

- the field of systems/cybernetics/complexity — understanding deep laws that structure our world, and the insights we can generate

- transforming organisations, systems, places, through consultancy, facilitation, change

I’m very lucky — my work allows me to combine these together — and they fit!

It’s worth remembering that we decide our missions

My mission is something like ‘sharing the joy of insight to allow us all to improve our lives’.

And, of course, it then gets complicated! Finding ways to do this with flow, without getting stuck on negatives, without it being the grind…

It me. Yeah, though I hardly hesitate to talk about it, I strongly recognise this! And the connection to Barry Oshry's dynamics of Tops is powerful - however I feel there is something quite powerful especially in the finances of 'be a Top who creates responsibility throughout the organisation' which means that that 'simple' prescription is even harder when you're an 'entrepreneur' running your own business. People may want more than there is, or it may be harder - especially (as with me) in a more distributed model.

Do you have any recommendations about how to 'move on and reinvent yourself, in humility'?

I don’t quite know why this distinction is so valuable to people — but it is!

The attached is from a recent session to introduce a group to Adaptive Leadership, working alongside a genuine expert (I’m a sceptical, engaged dabbler).

Their challenge:
what to do about home/hybrid working post-pandemic?

Should people work from home? Be forced into the office? Be flexible? If work can be done from anywhere, should it just be outsourced to #India? It’s clear that #humanresources#innovation is required.

The fundamental distinction in approach between technical/programmatic/linear change and adaptive or complex/wicked/messy/social change is at the heart of Adaptive Leadership.

It’s given in full (my version) on slide 4 of the attached.

File: A core…

It’s a simple way to work on relationships, introduced to me by our then-company coach. And brown means what you might be thinking but can’t believe I actually mean.

So, you sit down with your business partner, client, consultant, colleague, or whatever. Try to do this early on in the relationship (done late, it would be like The Airing of the Grievances at Festivus…)

And you work out together what you would each need to do to get to the worse possible relationship. You each tell the other, in advance, what to do if you want to really, really p*ss you off.

The brown contract is a list of what to do, specific to each of you, to get to the sh*ttiest relationship possible.

Once you know this, it…

-> have you ever seen someone turn purchasing into a creative art form?

-> have you got interesting experiences of community-building for learning?

Share your ideas below!

I’ve got a bunch of open events coming up, join me if you can (all free to attend):

1 June, Systems Change Finland sensemaking session

- What are the qualifications for a systems practitioner work role? How can you apply #SystemsThinking in public sector consulting?

3 June, the public sector show webinar

“The new Green Paper and why we need radical procurement regardless” with Malcolm Harbour, Peter Ware, Anne Davies free webinar

Benjamin P. Taylor

business evolutionary all pieces duplicated at

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