Making sense of systems change and systems leadership

Benjamin P. Taylor
2 min readJun 21, 2021

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

Integration and Implementation Insights blog: six ways to see systems leadership

(publication later today UK time)

  1. Systems leadership as a form of better leadership
  2. Externally-driven systems leadership
  3. Facilitative system leadership
  4. Systems leadership for systems innovation
  5. Systems leadership as leadership of complex systems
  6. Organic types of systems leadership

And the need to focus on critical challenge of systems leadership approaches and within it.

Systems Community of Inquiry: A schema for better understanding systems leadership and systems change

Building on the six types with examples and identification of risks in all of these areas and linking systems change to systems leadership — how can we ensure that the right approach is picked to both:

  • Ensure that the system is ‘led’ in a way that is considered broadly beneficial, ethical, legitimate and
  • Focus on the system ‘working’ in an effective, functional way.
A structure of systems leadership approaches

What is your approach to systems change or systems leadership?

What do these practices mean to you?