LINC invests in participants’ own understanding of the system, utilizing participatory methods to bring diverse groups together, conduct joint systems research, prioritize and plan.
Why We Do It
Dealing with complex challenges – such as food security, climate change or violent extremism – often requires bringing together a wide variety of organizations in a structured way to achieve changes at a level that can impact a whole system. Doing this well requires motivating multiple, sometimes disparate groups under a unifying framework for action and ensuring their commitment and buy-in to the initiative over time.
How We Do It
LINC’s unique approach to collective action invests heavily in developing participants’ own understanding of the system, transferring systems thinking tools and research methods to derive insights as we go. We facilitate local actors to first come together around a shared objective. We work to ensure that multiple perspectives are captured, bringing out diverse voices through group exercises, broad listening, community outreach and ethnographic research methods. As these collective action groups coalesce, we work to facilitate consensus on resources, priorities and plans.
LINC’s systems thinking tools help to foster this consensus, with tools such as Participatory Systems Mapping orienting actors around a set of issues, and Social Network Analysis enabling participants to better understand their own interconnections and respective roles in the system. Typically undertaking a facilitated process that can last anywhere from a week to several years, key questions include:
- What part of the system should we engage in to initiate change?–and how should we prioritize those interventions?
- Whom should we engage?–and who are the actors best positioned to positively impact the system, and who are those that impede it?
- How are organizations currently working together to achieve shared goals?–and are the adding value to one another’s work, and able to achieve more together than they would alone?
Local Action Resources
LINC leverages Participatory Systems Analysis, a five-step methodology that enables strategic actors to come together to gain a better understanding of their own system, create joint visions of how it could improve, and agree on practical ways to do it. We have made this methodology and case studies publicly-available online as part of our “Systems Thinking User’s Guide” developed under LINC’s Local Systems Practice (LSP) project. Learn more.