There is a wider recognition that development interventions need to become more systemic and complexity-sensitive if they are to overcome the big challenges faced by many developing countries. Finding more systemic intervention points is becoming more important. Interventions have to be more sensitive to the complexity of the societies where they want to see positive change happening.

Systemic Insight is an applied research and learning theme of Mesopartner. Over the last few years, we have engaged in a number of research initiatives and have been doing self-funded research to advance this topic. We have also been supporting projects to make sense of systemic change and become better at assessing their effect on the systems they work in.

As part of this research theme,

  • we have developed the Systemic Insight process logic to guide organisations and teams through processes of continuous exploration and change;
  • we have done an extensive literature review and developed a set of principles for systemic change for market system development. This was part of a research project funded by DFID via the BEAM Exchange implemented in collaboration with the Institute of Development Studies and Itad; and
  • we have worked with a number of projects to develop systemic change frameworks that guide them in implementation strategy and monitoring.

The next phase of this research will be to find partners who can test these ideas and principles in projects and generate more experiential knowledge around how to improve the effectiveness of programmes to achieve systemic change.

More on the theory and application of Systemic Insight can be found on the dedicated Systemic Insight website. On that website, we are also posting regular updates in the form of knowledge modules, we have a reading list pointing to various papers and books on the topic. Our aim with systemic-insight.com is to provide you with both the theoretical background you need to understand the approach and with the necessary instructions for you to use the approach.

We see Systemic Insight as an organic and evolving field of knowledge around systemic change, not something that is finished and can be published. We are applying it in our daily work. Still, we keep improving and adjusting as we go along.

We always appreciate your feedback, comments, and experiences, which enable us to keep improving. We are also always looking for partners on this journey towards a better understanding of systemic change.

If you would like to engage us on this research area, email Marcus Jenal or Dr Shawn Cunningham.

Systemic Insight - Managing Complexity in Economic Development Website

Systemic Insight - Podcast

Managing complexity and uncertainty in social sector organisations in the UK  
Managing complexity and uncertainty in social sector organisations in the UK Marcus Jenal of Mesopartner spoke at an event at the Newcastle University Business School about how to better manage…  
Mesopartner Working Paper 16  
Mesopartner Working Paper 16 Gaining systemic insight to strengthen economic development initiatives. Drawing on systems thinking and complexity theories to improve developmental impact. This working…  
Rethinking systemic change: economic evolution and institutions technical paper  
Rethinking systemic change: economic evolution and institutions technical paper In this work, we question the utility of the concept of systemic change in market systems development as it is…  
Rethinking systemic change: economic evolution and institutions  
Rethinking systemic change: economic evolution and institutions In this work, we question the utility of the concept of systemic change in market systems development as it is currently used and…  
Explore, Scale Up, Move Out: Three Phases to Managing Change under Conditions of Uncertainty  
Explore, Scale Up, Move Out: Three Phases to Managing Change under Conditions of Uncertainty IDS Bulletin. Private sector development is dominated by the use of ‘good practice’ solutions, driven by a…  
Resilience in economies  
Resilience in economies What do we mean by resilience? Folke defines resilience as follows (Folke, 2016): Resilience is having the capacity to persist in the face of change, to continue to develop…  
Mesopartner Annual Reflection 2014  
Mesopartner Annual Reflection 2014 Mesopartner dedicates this Annual Reflection entirely to complexity thinking and its practical implication for our work on economic development. Eight articles in…