Systems Change

    Focusing more on health promotion and prevention requires change in organisational systems and practices.Systems change highlight image

    A health system that focuses on promoting health and wellbeing is one that considers the needs of individuals and of population groups.

    A health system that has embraced systems change and is working in health promoting ways will:

    • engage with clients to promote health and wellbeing at every chance
    • address the determinants of health
    • use several health promoting actions
    • address health inequities
    • ensure people who need the services the most get them
    • use appropriate evidence
    • work in partnerships with others
    • engage with clients and community in a way that is meaningful to them
    • seek to create environments that support health and wellbeing
    • create and embed an ongoing culture of promoting health and wellbeing
    • create partnerships to improve the determinants of health outside the scope of the health sector.

    Systems thinking is a way of helping you better understand and make sense of complex situations.

    Here are some tips to engage in systems thinking (source: Australian Prevention Partnership Centre and Tasmanian Government)

    • Step back to see the bigger picture and explore what else might be influencing a situation.
      • What else is going on here?
    • Be aware of your mental model and how it influences your perspectives and actions.
      • What beliefs and values inform how I see, engage, and react to this situation?
    • See yourself in the system and how you engage, contribute and influence it.
      • What is my role in this situation? What can I influence?
    • Engage diverse perspectives to see a situation from different vantage points.
      • Who has a different perspective from my own on this situation and how might they see it?
      • Whose voice is not being heard?
    • Be present in the moment and listen deeply, without trying to ‘fix’ a problem.
      • Am I listening or wanting to talk?
      • Am I suspending judgement and criticism?
      • Am I being open to new information?
    • Question assumptions to surface what has informed them and to question if they are true.
      • What assumptions am I making about this situation and how can I test them?
    • Uncover unintended consequences before committing to a decision or action.
      • What else might happen if we do this?
      • What adaptations need to be made as a result?
    • Use visual modelling to make sense of, or explain a complex situation, which may reveal new insights.
      • Can I draw or illustrate this situation with diagrams, metaphors, relationships or symbols?
    • Look for connections and relationships between parts to gain new insights about the whole.
      • Which parts have a connection?
      • What is their relationship?
      • Is there an emerging or recurring pattern?
    • Reflect regularly on a situation, interpret and give it deeper learning.
      • What did I intend to happen and what actually happened?
      • What does it tell me about the system?
      • How can I work with this new insight?