SYSTEM-LEVEL ACTION

The Forum is an innovative strategy that draws from leading knowledge about how to develop a learning-action system, where the system is defined as all those stakeholders engaged in transformation and the Accords. This system already “exists”, but is very under-developed and emergent. There issignificant transformation action with respect to the Accords, in the form of initiatives to support goal attainment with the intent of transformation. However, the action comprises a wide range of fragmented activities, with a very weak identity and few specifically recognizable activities that bring together the Accords + transformation. (Patterson et al. 2017) Table 1 on action organizing approaches distinguishes a systems approach from more traditional ones. The system is not the product of a legal entity; the Forum develops the system and its infrastructure, but it is not “the infrastructure”. The Forum undertakes activities to emerge an effective system, by developing robust connections and capacity amongst the diverse initiatives in the system. The underlying logic is to speed up the self-organizing dynamic of the Accords’ transformation system, which, on its own, lacks action coherence.

Different Organizing Approaches for Action
Project / Initiative Program Organization Network System
Legal Structure One of many activities One of a small number of activity streams One legal entity Many legal entities No legal reference
Organizing Structure Work Group Multi-project team Hierarchy Multi-hub Diffuse
Organizing Logic Task Coordination Administering Managing Coherence Emergent self-organizing
Time Horizon Short Long
Strategic Role Tactic Strategy Vision Alignment Purpose

There is need for a relatively stable stewardship group to guide the Forum and connect its transformation action coherency groups. However, participation in Forum initiatives might be quite episodic around particular needs and priorities of the system, and how these can be opportunistically connected with system participants’ priorities and activities. The Forum stewards the application and further development of the SDG transformation knowledge action system by identifying high leverage action points to develop a powerful transformation system supporting the SDGs.

Developing such a learning-action system is at the frontier of organizing knowledge. The Forum strategy draws on and extends organization knowledge associated with work of such entities that are in the network-system space such as Transparency International, Sustainable Energy for All, the Forest Stewardship Council, The Global Compact, and The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis. The innovative nature of the Forum emphasizes the importance for its successful development of developing reflexive learning and review processes for itself.