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Yea nice as well. My Msc course mainly taught us UK based studies and this USA published work I think provides another practical aspect of systems thinking in Action. Not yet finished reading but so far so good.
“System Thinking for Social Change” is a semi-useful book.
David Stroh applies system thinking paradigm on how to address pressing social issues. The book gives some concrete guidelines on how to unfold a complex solution to resolve social problems like mass incarceration, homelessness, and universal pre-school program. The narrative supposedly walks a reader through “systems thinking” framework. Yet, the author lacks strong writing skills, and he can’t keep a reader interested throughout the book. Stroh has a couple of useful examples, which kind of explore system thinking. At the same time, this exploration misses the essence of those projects. To make it perfect, he needs to give more instances with essential info. Diagrams (figures) are difficult to understand. He doesn’t reveal how to create it. He says that main stakeholders, sometimes given key variables, should build these cause and effect diagrams. That sounds as an effective technique in the brainstorming process. How to perfect those diagrams at the late stages? How will the validity of cause and effect diagrams be checked? What if a diagram is biased?
The book is semi-useful, so you can find beneficial info on system thinking, but not comprehensive. This book will be helpful for social advocates and community organizers.
In a sentence, this book is about how to differentiate between treating causes and treating symptoms of a problem. For instance, putting homeless people in temporary shelters doesn't end homelessness. It just encourages them to not find permanent housing and jobs, because they now have a free place to stay, albeit without security. It actually makes homelessness worse.
This book is useful for anyone interested in working on any social problems, even if it's just heated conversations with your friends or family.
I have two criticisms: 1) Not enough varied examples. The book endlessly uses the examples of the same homelessness and childhood education programs. There is not enough mention of other social programs, such as anything environmental. More examples would appeal to more readers. 2) The diagrams are hard to understand. The author's way of using arrows to link problems is innovative, but I get lost because they are too complex. I have extensive training in climate change, and his diagram in the back on climate change is messy, in my opinion. These diagrams could be better cleaned up and explained.
David Peter Stroh’s brilliant new book, Systems Thinking for Social Change, could not appear at a more important time for those working collaboratively for racial equity and social and economic justice in coalitions and partnerships. From my perspective, as a nationally recognized consultant in community and systems change collaboration, David has provided much needed clarity about, and very understandable explanations of how to effectively apply, systems thinking in collaborative social change efforts. Even with the best intentions, necessary multi-collaboration can quickly become overly complicated and very difficult to focus on the most prudent and effective methods for mission and goal achievement. To a large degree, this is because many of those working in partnerships do not think systemically about the complex nature of problems needing attention. As David points out, systems change requires asking questions revealing both the likelihood of achieving the intended consequences of collective actions while not being overwhelmed or diverted by consequence that were not intended. He explains why social change also requires systems thinking in order to design and implement the best mutually reinforcing and mutually accountable strategic actions that can bring effective demonstrations of problem solving to scale. Importantly, David grounds his approaches to systems thinking in the power inequities, institutional racism and other repressive manifestations of our existing political and cultural realities that must be transformed. David Peter Stroh also clearly stands in solidarity with all those engaging in Tikkun Olam, Hebrew for repairing the world, to bring forth a common good for all people worthy of our best hopes and dreams for a decent, caring and sustainable global community.
As a professor and a consultant applying systems thinking and systems mapping for large scale systems change, I have found David’s book a superb guide for practitioners and students to learn about the process of applying systems thinking for social change. I have used it in my own consulting work for clients such as the UN and the World Bank and for teaching MBA students at a university. David provides practical steps on how to use systems thinking to help stakeholders see themselves and the larger system, form a shared vision and identify leverage points for collective action. It is a great guide for those who want to adopt a systems approach for addressing the most pressing social, environmental and economic issues facing mankind. A must read for social change agents!
David Stroh has written a masterpiece for the person who wants to go deep on becoming a Systems Thinker. He weaves together the "doing" of Systems Thinking...literally the steps one takes to move through a complex change process, with the "being" of Systems Thinking...who one needs to become, and the attributes one must embody, to be an effective change agent. David's writing style is both easy to understand and thorough, and he covers an incredible amount of information in a relatively short book given the topic. This is an absolute MUST READ for anyone who is trying to learn to move from conventional problem-solving to complex Systems Thinking "dilemma management."