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Why systemic change requires a different approach to collaboration

Through our Future of Home initiative, we’ve launched a Systemic Impact Network in Home and Housing that’s currently being trialled in South Australia.

Why this network, and why now

The intent of the Systemic Impact Network is to bring together different people from across the housing system to align their influence, resources, capital, know-how and passion to create better outcomes at scale.

There’s strong commitment from 22 leaders from across South Australia’s home and housing sector, including multiple Government departments, private developers, NGOs in community housing and aged care, organisations addressing homelessness, philanthropy, architects and academics.

What sets this network apart

Too often leaders report the inefficiencies and lack of effectiveness in collaborations and round table efforts. That’s why, over the past three years, we’ve developed and trialled a new and strategic approach to “networks”.

The working hypothesis is that by connecting and aligning people (across a system) towards a shared goal, the group will take bolder actions toward reform. Key to its success is careful curation, the development of behaviours and mindsets, the building of trust to have tough conversations, and the ability to build the network’s identity and legitimacy.

This diagram illustrates some of the differences between general networking approaches and a systemic network approach. We’re currently using this approach across a number of initiatives.

TRADITIONAL
 NETWORK vs Network 
for Systemic
 Impact

What’s different

Traditional
 Network

Narrow Focus

on special interest groups, organisational interests, effective & efficient institutions

Narrow Focus

Network 
for Systemic 
Impact

Systems Focus

on better outcomes for people, going ‘beyond brand’

Systems Focus

Traditional
 Network

Ego Mindsets

that promote self-interest, superficial listening, oppositional conflict, power dynamics & passivity

Network 
for Systemic 
Impact

Eco Mindsets

that promote shared interest, deep listening, generative conflict, equity & action

Traditional
 Network

Rigid Structure

that dictates process, hierarchical or power based decision-making and actions

Rigid structure

Network 
for Systemic 
Impact

Flexible Structure

that defines principles and intention and builds trust and mechanisms for working together

Flexible Structure

Traditional
 Network

Reflective Methods

rooted in making decisions based on what’s been done in the past

Reflective methods

Network 
for Systemic 
Impact

Active Methods

that learn from the emerging future by taking action, learning by doing, pivoting and iterating

Traditional
 Network

Collective Action

where everyone takes the same action & does the same thing(s)

Network 
for Systemic 
Impact

Aligned Independent Action

adapts actions for needs and contexts testing a diversity of different, aligned actions

Aligned independent action