Social change can be achieved through various pathways, each of which leads to deep impact when executed effectively. But when it comes to tackling complex issues at scale, adopting a systems change approach is likely to prove more powerful since it gets to the root cause of the problem and ensures sustainable solutions.

This approach operates at the intersection of the government, grassroots nonprofits, and academic/research institutions. Together, their contribution helps in building consensus, identifying and addressing policy gaps, proving large-scale successes, forming necessary alliances, creating public resources, enhancing systems’ capabilities, shifting mindsets, and unlocking funding.

Yet, the systems change journey is neither straightforward nor simple. Practitioners often grapple with questions such as: What exactly is systems change? Which systems should I engage with? How can I navigate this complex process? What tools can I utilise? What internal skills do I need to develop? While there exists a wealth of global knowledge on systems change, there is a lack of contextually relevant Indian examples in this domain.

To bridge this gap, The Convergence Foundation (TCF) and India Impact Sherpas released a report titled Systemic Change ExemplarsUnique Approaches Towards Solving India’s Development Challenges. The report captures learnings from 20 organisations that have actively adopted a systems change lens in their work, and provides an in-depth analysis of the practices incorporated by these organisations as well as the internal development they had to undergo to drive systems change at scale.

This article draws from the report and identifies the combination of practices used by these organisations to create impact based on the context of their work. These practices are:

  1. Involve communities in decision-making
  2. Use data, evidence, and research to develop solutions
  3. Aim to influence policy
  4. Build scalable solutions
  5. Leverage technology for scale
  6. Help strengthen institutional capacity in government
  7. Partner with organisations to scale
  8. Create viable markets for the under-privileged

Read the full article about systemic change at India Development Review.