Photo by Steve Johnson

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

Abraham Lincoln


Traditional advocacy is often linear. Advocacy efforts target specific decision-makers, campaign messages are tailored, and solutions are proposed. 

So what happens when the advocacy needs are too many or too frequent? When proposed solutions are too complex, complicated or costly? Or when it doesn’t take just one decision-maker?

We live and operate in social systems with complex dynamics where change is more likely to endure and be sustained, where it was built from the roots up, interconnectedly, than from the crown-down, streamlined. This is the practice behind systems change theory (Bertalanffy & Miller) which:

  • considers the whole,
  • focuses on relationships between parts, and 
  • allows multiple ways towards a goal.

When working to create systems change, it is not about giving rise to a new system, but rather about shifting the current system to remain effective and relevant to the changing context. All systems necessarily adjust and update themselves, and can also accommodate changes.

With a systems change model the EHC Think Tank takes a step back and spends more time on identifying specific problems, understanding them from multiple angles, and determining the objectives of all stakeholders (incl. potential solutions) by working with a broad range of key healthcare system stakeholders on what matters to them, and how better to move that forward. 

The EHC Think Tank involves stakeholders from the very beginning of the process, helps them to arrive at a common understanding of the problem and curates a co-creation process towards a common proposed way forward. 

In this way, the EHC Think Tank focuses not on a few decision-makers, but on many stakeholders, harnessing their motivations to make an impact, grow, develop, evolve and change both themselves and the parts of the system that they operate in.

As a results, systems change is both an internal and an external process.

To apply systems change in our part of the healthcare system is a long-term effort to shift specific parts of the system into being more sustainable at a human, economic, social, and cultural level to ensure the best quality of life for patients.   

Further readings: