This is a must read for all EWBers! As EWB has shifted its focus away from programs and more to ventures, the traditional structure of our organization has evolved. Ventures would follow a trajectory, an incubated systemic innovation (or ISI in EWB-speak) path, which results in exiting the EWB incubator. For a visual of the incubator, click here. At National Conference 2013, a good number of ventures were pitched and their respective leaders/champions sought the EWB network for feedback. Since Conference, the Strategy & Investment team evaluated in which ventures EWB would invest money and staffing. This post goes through the selection process, criteria and rationale, and of course the chosen ventures!
The diagram above taken from the EWBibliothèque post shows the areas the ventures operate and where they overlap with each other. It’s a powerful reminder how systems do not operate in vacuums!
The diagram above is from the Why Projects Fail seminar I recently took. Indeed there are behaviours or habits that should be fostered to improve systems thinking. These are my fav five:
Uses understanding of system structure to identify possible leverage actions–The system structure reveals which actors would influence multiple other actors. These are leverage points. They should be exploited because changing leverage points could change several actors at once, hence being able to introduce disruption to the system more effectively.
Find where unintended consequences emerge–Relationships never thought of previously between actors could be unfolded in a system map. This could occur within feedback loops as there might be certain unthought of elements that could accelerate an outcome.
Recognizes that a systems structure generates its behaviour–How actors within a system relate to others is a direct correlation to how they behave.
Considers how mental models affect current reality and the future–How the system map is created is based on one’s perception. Modelling the future most definitely depends on the views of the system mapper.
Checks results and changes action if needed: “successive approximation”–This is related to the habit above. It is important to test the system map to determine results and adjust the map to make it reflect the system more accurately. Systems change over time so system maps need to change to better reflect them.