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:
Align the System
Strategies do not exist in a vacuum. Instead, they are carried out within an existing community context (see orange boxes to below).

  • Some aspects of this context may be aligned with your strategies and outcomes (e.g., existing networks support strategies to improve service referrals) and will support the success of your strategies.

  • Other aspects of this context may be misaligned (e.g., local attitudes and beliefs that cause people to resist new strategies) and can impede your success.

Engage diverse stakeholders in helping to understand any misaligned conditions, and add elements into your strategies to address these conditions prior to implementation.

Identifying and addressing system misalignments BEFORE you launch your strategy can significantly increase the likelihood of your success (Powell et al., 2015; Stroh, 2015). 

TIP: Ask System Alignment Questions

Ask questions at your upcoming meetings and interactions in the community to identify potential system conditions that are misaligned with your strategies or desired systems changes.

When alignment issues emerge during these conversations, engage stakeholders right then and there in identifying ways to address them.

Use these ideas to add elements into your strategies to address these misaligned conditions.

 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.
June 2019
This ABLe exChange update is distributed to ABLe Change Training participants. It is intended to provide information to support your future efforts. Have an idea for a future update? Email us at:
  • Foster-Fishman, P. G., Nowell, B., & Yang, H. (2007). Putting the system back into systems change: A framework for understanding and changing organizational and community systems. American journal of community psychology39(3-4), 197-215.
  • Powell, B. J., Waltz, T. J., Chinman, M. J., Damschroder, L. J., Smith, J. L., Matthieu, M. M., ... & Kirchner, J. E. (2015). A refined compilation of implementation strategies: results from the Expert Recommendations for Implementing Change (ERIC) project. Implementation Science10(1), 21.
  • Stroh, D. P. (2015). Systems thinking for social change. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing