“I used to take baths and swim in the river when I was a kid. Now, when my son comes with me, he’s not able to swim in it because it’s so dirty. When my son goes there when he is my age, it will be a cesspool.”
Compelled to take action, Acumen India Fellow Raja Muzaffar Bhat started writing to shed light on the scars poor environmental management was leaving on his beautiful country. He penned over 60 articles on waste management alone.
It will take all of us to make things right for those who have too long been excluded from opportunity. In our inter- connected world, developing an understanding of our shared humanity has become a critical skill, one upon which our shared future ultimately depends.
Acumen Colombia Fellow
Have you ever found yourself facing an issue where the seemingly straightforward solution didn’t bring about the results you expected?
We jump into action with the communities, but systemic change is also about thinking and analyzing the real challenges of a system. It’s understanding the difference between what we can solve in a technical way and what is more adaptive. For me, it’s getting to the root of the problem and solving it from there.
Natalia León, Acumen Colombia Fellow
A systems approach brings multiple stakeholders together to rally around a shared story and unite around a common purpose to drive change.
For stakeholders, the approach removes blame, builds a shared understanding of the issue at hand, and illuminates next steps for shifting the status quo for the better.
Acumen Colombia Fellow, Natalia León, is streetfootballworld’s Regional Manager & Head of Partnership for Latin America. In this role, she brings together organizations across Latin America who are using football as a tool for change across issues ranging from education to peacebuilding. The goal is to map the region and bring regional solutions to global problems.
Natalia partners with the top football organizations in the world, including FIFA, to bring reconciliation and peace building from the pitch into the community. One example is a project called Football for Emergency Response, which uses football as a tool for restitution of human rights for migrants in Latin America. In partnership with football players and humanitarian aid organizations, this project offers much needed relief in refugee camps, inspiring migrants to play again and reducing overall tension and sexual abuse in the camps.
With Natalia’s work as an example, let’s examine the four fundamental steps of systems practice that every change-maker should consider.
Systems mapping can be used to help stakeholders build a visual picture of the relationship and interdependencies beyond the boundaries they normally assume.... Tools that help foster reflection and generative conversation are aimed at enabling groups to slow down long enough to ‘try on’ other people’s viewpoints regarding a complex problem.
Peter Senge, Hal Hamilton and John Kania
in “The Dawn of System Leadership”
If you haven’t guessed by now, streetfootballworld found a powerful point of leverage in the sport of football.
Football is a passion shared across borders - immune to barriers of race, language, gender and age. streetfootballworld uses a variation of the traditional football match called football3, where three halves - a pre-match discussion, a football game, and a post-match discussion - and zero referees transform the game into a vehicle for inclusion, equality and teamwork.
The football3 methodology has been used to bring discussion to tackle challenges around gender equality, social integration, peacebuilding, civic engagement and much more.
“Good strategy takes a stance. It has explicit hypotheses. It asks ‘what is really going on here?’ It plans for ways to fail safe and admits uncertainties. It lays out coherent actions that focus on shifting a few critical dynamics. And it should be simple enough for those who aren't experts to follow...We should take the simplicity of our resulting strategy as a sign that we've embraced the complexity, understood it, and found a few key leverage points where we actually have a shot at making an impact.”
-Jeff Mohr, CEO of Kumu.io
Natalia’s football network is clear that they come together for support, not necessarily to change the way they’re working. They thrive on face-to-face meetings and make a point of syncing meetings up alongside high-profile football matches. They form task forces for specific topics in need of further exploration, such as the migration task force focused on supporting the refugee migration crisis in Latin America, as the need arises.
We have annual meetings within the regions where we create our regional strategies connected to a global strategy where we really want to change the game at a global level.