Systems Thinking for Social Change: A Practical Guide to Solving Complex Problems, Avoiding Unintended Consequences, and Achieving Lasting Results

David Peter Stroh. Chelsea Green, $24.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-60358-580-4
This dense volume will be of genuine use to many in the nonprofit world, but is far too mired in professional argot for lay readers. Stroh, cofounder of the change-management consulting practice Bridgeway Partners, unfurls consultant-speak dressed up in social-justice robes at a dizzying pace, but leaves it to a chart to define "systems thinking," a way of addressing specific social problems, such as chronic homelessness. Often, he notes, "diverse stakeholders find it difficult to align their efforts despite shared intentions," or, in plainer terms, the parties working to solve a problem can't see past their own interests and often work against each other. His examples of systems thinking in action include a group dedicated to ending mass incarceration in the U.S. and a rural Michigan county's efforts to end homelessness. It's difficult, sometimes intimidating material, replete with diagrams that will make even the most goodhearted activist long for PowerPoint bulleted slides. Nonetheless, Stroh has a valuable insight to impart: Becoming a more effective systems thinker is not just an analytical task "but also an emotional, physical, and ultimately spiritual one." For those dedicated enough to stay with Stroh's message, this book will be a useful beginning. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/14/2015
Release date: 10/01/2015
Open Ebook - 264 pages - 978-1-60358-581-1
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