The System exChange
The System exChange provides powerful tips and ideas for transforming your local community.
The last issue of the System exChange introduced a process for designing powerful strategies and provided a series of tools and resources to help alter the status quo. Click here for past issues.

This week's System exChange builds on these ideas and highlights additional ways to design powerful strategies.
What is a powerful strategy?
Powerful strategies shift the status quo . They are designed to change community system conditions (versus just individual behaviors) in ways that promote local health equity and wellbeing (Carey & Crammond, 2015; Meadows, 2008). 

Powerful strategies are able to:
  • Transform the purpose and goals driving organizations, institutions, initiatives, & communities.
  • Create new narratives that shift local assumptions about how to solve community problems 
  • Expand boundaries around which settings/stakeholders have power and influence
  • Shift policies, rules, and protocols that drive local behavior and influence how work is done. 
  • Create opportunities for improved living, working, schooling, and playing conditions 
  • Promote new roles and relationships across settings, stakeholders, and residents, including who is responsible for health and who is an actor of change.
Powerful Strategy Approach:
Design Disruptive Strategies
Communities often design strategies using conventional approaches . For example, supports are provided by professionals at designated office locations and times, opportunities to promote health are offered to residents one at a time, or resources are either expensive or hard to access. 

Disruptive questions can help you break out of this conceptual box by flipping taken for granted assumptions to explore more innovative and powerful ways to design strategies (Brown & Wyatt, 2010). 

Example Disruptive Questions
How could you make this strategy more powerful by disrupting:
  • How the strategy works?  
  • Who carries it out – and what roles they play?  
  • Where it happens?  
  • When it happens?

Example Disruptive Strategies

  • Laundromats and food pantries located inside schools

  • Mobile food markets bringing fresh produce to under-served neighborhoods

  • Reduced rent to students who live with senior citizens and provide them with social support

Additional Resources
Use this checklist to design powerful strategies to address local problems and inequities.
ABLe Change Manual
Refer to pages 189-300 in your ABLe Manual for more on designing powerful strategies.
If you find this publication useful, forward to your colleagues and encourage them to subscribe !

Want access to more information about community transformation? Check out the Michigan CHIR Learning website !! This website includes information, tools, and resources to help support local collaborative efforts.

February 2020
Have an idea for a future update? Email us at:
  • Brown, T, & Wyatt, J. (2010). Design thinking for social innovation. Stanford Social Innovation Review, 31-35.
  • Carey, G., & Crammond, B. (2015). Systems change for the social determinants of health. BMC public health, 15(1), 662.
  • Johnston LM, Matteson CL, & Finegood DT. (2014). Systems science and obesity policy: a novel framework for analyzing and rethinking population-level planning. American Journal of Public Health, 104(7):1270–8.
  • Meadows, D. (1999). Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System. Hartland, Vermont, USA: The Sustainability Institute.