David Peter Stroh

Jul 20, 2018

Systems Thinking For Social Change

A Practical Guide to Solving Complex Problems, Avoiding Unintended Consequences, and Achieving Lasting Results

Chelsea Green Publishers 2015

purchase at bookshop.org While Systems Thinking has enjoyed an increasing amount of societal influence through work of such practitioner/authors as Peter Senge, it is also true that the vast majority of the popular literature on the systems view has taken place within a business context and, as such, often avoids placing the “first principles” of market capitalism on the list of “mental models” to be unpacked and interrogated within a systemic process of inquiry. A refreshing antidote to this state of affairs is provided by David Peter Stroh’s Systems Thinking For Social Change: A Practical Guide to Solving Complex Problems, Avoiding Unintended Consequences, and Achieving Lasting Results out in 2015 from Chelsea Green Publishers. Drawing on his rich experience in the non-profit, educational, and municipal sectors, Stroh’s focus is squarely on “wicked problems” of social development uncoupled from the profit imperative as he guides us through highly accessible descriptions of common system archetypes and the strategies that can be employed to address them. In my conversation with David Peter Stroh we encounter his powerful challenge to all would-be change agents to honestly confront the ways in which they may, in fact, be part of the problem and to take stock of the payoffs provided by the “status quo” that, unless they are brought out into the open and honestly interrogated, might actually be surreptitiously sapping the will of systemic agents to change. If we have the courage to engage in these difficult conversations, Stroh shows us that we can begin to build roadmaps to lasting and beneficial systemic change.

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Tom Scholte is a Professor of Directing and Acting in the Department of Theatre and Film at the University of British Columbia located on the unceded, ancestral, and traditional territory of the Musqueam people

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