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The purpose of a Systemic Program Assessment (SPA) is help organizations operate effectively in complex environments: Help organizations increase the cost effectiveness of their social change efforts (increase impacts and their sustainability) Help individuals maximize their ability to make sustainable change in their organizations Systemic Program Assessment Why an SPA? Operating in complex environments (e.g. in communities, organizations) poses special challenges Copyright © 2011 by Robert Ricigliano. All rights reserved
Working with Complex Systems Type of Task ContextResponse Routine (e.g. assembly line) Cost of Errors – High Likelihood of Errors – Low Cause/Effect: Known Automate, Maintain Complex (e.g. org/community change, peacebuilding) Cost of Errors – High Likelihood of Errors – High Cause/Effect: Partly known Systems practice: Plan, Act, Learn (repeat) Chaotic (e.g. research lab) Cost of Errors – Low Likelihood of Errors – High Cause/Effect: Unknown Systems Inquiry: Experiment, Learn, Act Based on Snowden (Cynefin Framework), Edmondson, (Strategies for Learning from Failure, 2011), and Ricigliano (Making Peace Last, 2011) Copyright © 2011 by Robert Ricigliano. All rights reserved
Based on Snowden (Cynefin Framework), Edmondson and Cannon, (Learning to Fail), and Ricigliano (Making Peace Last) Type of Task ContextResponse Routine (e.g. assembly line) Cost of Errors – High Likelihood of Errors – Low Cause/Effect: Known Automate, Maintain Complex (e.g. org/community change, peacebuilding) Cost of Errors – High Likelihood of Errors – High Cause/Effect: Partly known Systems practice: Plan, Act, Learn (repeat) Chaotic (e.g. research lab) Cost of Errors – Low Likelihood of Errors – High Cause/Effect: Unknown Systems Inquiry: Experiment, Learn, Act In complex environments, good programming requires understanding the context as a system and making decisions based on how an action might impact and be impacted by that system Working with Complex Systems Copyright © 2011 by Robert Ricigliano. All rights reserved
Working with Complex Systems Keys to Planning, Acting, and Learning in complex environments: Understand the context as a complex system SAT model (key drivers of systems change) Systems mapping Listen to and work with the system to determine where and how to intervene (feed forward) Learn from the system (feedback) Copyright © 2011 by Robert Ricigliano. All rights reserved
Systemic Program Assessment Products of an SPA: A systems view (e.g. systems map) of the operating environment (that will facilitate understanding, listening to, working with, and learning from a system) Ideas for improving programming Reducing the potential for unintended negative impacts Identifying high leverage activities Bridging the gap between localized program impacts and societal change Ideas for improving organizational practices (in order to operate in a more holistic, systemic fashion) Copyright © 2011 by Robert Ricigliano. All rights reserved
Process of an SPA Diagnostic interviews, research to understand: Organizational goals and practices Key drivers of the systemic context Systems mapping Producing a visual representation of the key drivers and dynamic feedback loops that shape a system Systemic planning Interpreting the systems map to uncover key dynamics, leverage points Assess the impact of the system on current programming and the impact of programming on the system Assess the ability of the organization to adopt a systems practice Copyright © 2011 by Robert Ricigliano. All rights reserved
BACKGROUND The SPA is based on a systems thinking approach to working effectively with complex environments (see Ricigliano, 2011, Making Peace Last) The SPA is based on a theoretical approach known as the SAT Model (Structural-Attitudinal- Transactional) The SPA facilitates effective Feed Forward which enables a systems practice (see below) Feed Forward helps organizations increase their cost effectiveness by identifying leverage points (see below) Copyright © 2011 by Robert Ricigliano. All rights reserved
Copyright © 2009 by Robert Ricigliano. All rights reserved The SAT Model Sustainable systems change requires change across three domains: Transactional: The processes and skills used by key people to manage conflict, solve problems, and turn ideas into action Attitudinal The cultural norms, values, and inter-group relationships that affect the level of cooperation between people Structural The societal or organizational systems and institutions designed to meet peoples basic human needs Transactional activity is the catalyst for structural and attitudinal change Progress at one level is not sustainable without progress at the others
Feed Forward Feed Forward helps planners, implementers, and evaluators to: Focus on affecting dynamics, as opposed to individual factors Set priorities by identifying leverage points Contextualize theories of change in terms of how they affect key leverage points/dynamics Identify linkages between programs Inform M&E by identifying indicators of systemic change, linking micro and macro levels/impacts Copyright © 2011 by Robert Ricigliano. All rights reserved
Leverage points What is a leverage point? Leverage seeks to create the most amount of change with the least amount of effort In terms of social systems, points of leverage address changes that would have the largest impact on the system. Changes to a leverage point have a high potential to be amplified/sustained by the system Copyright © 2011 by Robert Ricigliano. All rights reserved
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