Analyzing transformations in terms of two prevalent dynamics, the article Four Strategies for Large Systems Change reveals that those working for transformation employ four different strategies depicted in the diagram. One dynamic is the spectrum from destruction to creation. Extreme destruction might be depicted as the collapse of civilization; less extreme forms might include the rejection of a traditional social value or the breakup of a company. The extreme of creation is captured by the birth of a whole new societal order, while a less extreme form of creation might be the formation of a company or the adoption of a new social practice.
A second dynamic is the spectrum of confrontation to collaboration. The extreme of confrontation is war, but there are many less confrontational actions, such as those of Greenpeace activists. At the collaboration extreme, consider the facilitation of deep mutual respect and common commitment in a group to work together to realize a change goal through transcendence of diverse perspectives, similar to the Forest Stewardship Council‘s work.
Distinctive characteristics of these strategies are described in the table.
Six lessons are identified for those working on transformation:
- Each of the four strategies can contribute critically to one transformation.
- Particular transformations emphasize a particular strategy.
- As a transformation progresses, the comparative importance of each
- The particular circumstances and environment that a transformation
confronts determine the order of the strategies and their interaction.
- Enabling environments support experimentation and the creation
- Each strategy requires distinct competencies.
Source: Waddell, Steve. 2018. “Four Strategies for Large Systems Change.” Stanford Social Innovation Review (Spring.):42-47.