Kayla Marshall, 2017 graduate of the Dana Juett Residency, presented at the 28th Annual International Conference on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) International Symposium, “Delivering Systems in the Age of Globalization.”
Kayla’s presentation, “A Systems Thinking Approach to Philanthropy: How a Systemic Approach to Philanthropy Could Strengthen Our Social Impact.” was featured at the symposium in Washington DC.
INCOSE’s Annual International Symposium is the largest annual gathering of people who do systems engineering. The conference is four days of presentations, case studies, workshops, tutorials, and panel discussions, attracting a mix of professionals at all levels, including practitioners in government and industry, as well as educators and researchers.
Presentation Abstract: Philanthropy is evolving from simply throwing money at a social issue to using our skills and knowledge to address the root causes of the issues. Systems Thinking can be used to increase the value and effectivity of social initiatives resulting in measurable impacts while minimizing unintended consequences. Social systems are complex and their complexity creates difficulty when navigating them in attempts to create economic growth and stability for lower income communities, for example.
If social systems can be better understood, then root cause of social inequities can be identified. Once the driving forces and the interconnections between social systems are understood then we can begin to manipulate those social structures and create a more desirable system outcome (i.e. equitable social systems). Understanding and addressing the root cause will allow us to create sustainable solutions. The more we understand systemic behavior the more we can anticipate the system behavior and work with the systems, and in this case, shape the quality of our lives.
If we want to move our social structures to equitable sustainment, then we must allow ourselves, as philanthropist, to think systemically when addressing root causes to social systems. The presentation includes a Systems Thinking approach to addressing social systems. The components of social systems are explored as well as how philanthropy can influence our social systems. Through establishing the common components of social systems we can identify how philanthropy could be best used and began to development tools for approaching social systems that incorporate the skill sets of system thinkers. We will be able to determine if and howa Systems Thinking skill set can be employed to strengthen philanthropy with a measurable social impact tool.
Dana Juett Resident Alumni Class of 2017