If you want to change a human system, you need to find people who agree with you that it needs to change.
These people will fall along a continuum in regard to their attitude to change. This starts with those who want to totally repurpose the system, through to those who want to adapt it to solve the problem you have identified, to those who are happy to make minor tweaks.
In The Finance Innovation Lab we work with all three groups. As below:
Who will be rooting for you?
The stakeholders who will benefit from solving the problem you have identified, or those who feel injustice at its current constellation, will naturally be easiest people to recruit to help you. So the majority of the Occupy movement were the 99% rather than the 1%. In general, these people have less individual power to influence the existing system.
Who will you have to work on?
But, people from within a system that is dysfunctional will also lend support, if you ask the right question although they might be less inclined to make public their concerns. For example at our Finance Innovation Lab Assemblies, we had various senior people from the banking world in attendance who had taken a days leave to come along and asked us to make sure they didn’t appear in any photos. This group have much greater individual power to influence the existing system because they have a strong web of relationships and responsibilities within it. However, they also have more of a vested interest in the system not changing radically and this can impede their level of involvement.
How to keep people involved
The lasting way to engage supporters who can create a new system is through community building. This is key to all systems change work I’ve been involved in. Once you’ve convened a community, their collective intelligence can help guide what needs to change in the system and the best intervention to make that happen. They can add weight and numbers to campaigns and build enterprises that make the system more efficient or make alternatives possible, change laws – change the infrastructure of a system, build new relationships and a new culture.