Lankelly Chase Systems Changers

Systems Changers is a programme that we first designed and ran in 2015 for Lankelly Chase. It is built around a central question: ‘Can, and how can, the insights of frontline workers influence systems change?”. The first iteration of the programme ran July-December 2015, and brought together ten frontline workers from organisations across the North East and North West to explore this question through a programme of visits, knowledge, skills development and ethnography.

Team: Cassie, Sophia, Anne, Anna, Hannah, Ella, Jennie M, Jennie W, With Snook. 

Why did we do this work

Many of the people we interviewed for are systems architects, people designing and running labs focussed on systems change for a field or sector but for systems to change, we know that different parts of a system need to be influenced simultaneously.  This was an opportunity to understand and prototype how those on the frontline of services could influence the systems in which they work and how their insights could be leveraged to influence wider systems through their collective intelligence. 

What was our approach

We set this project up as a joint enquiry with the Lankelly Chase Foundation, who shared our commitment to uncovering deep insight through this work. We recruited our participants and asked them to view their place on the programme not only as an opportunity for personal development, but also as a chance to work in partnership to reflect on behalf of the systems in which they were all working. We worked with three lenses, always asking what something meant for them as an individual, what it meant for the organisation in which they worked and lastly, what it meant for the wider systems in which they work.


There was an ongoing but important tension in holding the space for these insights to emerge, at both an individual level and a collective level. We didn’t want this to be a traditional leadership or personal development programme, neither did we want it to be focussed on solution-ism in the form of an accelerator programme.The programme design was a unique combination of ethnography, skills development (for example, in systems mapping), and reflection space (for example, on questions of power), peer coaching and field visits, delivered over a 6 month period by a range of Point People, Snook and other external specialists.


This first programme concluded in December 2015 and we held an event at the House of Lords where the Systems Changers cohort shared their learning and insight. A newspaper was produced for the event which contains information about the process, the outputs and the learning from the programme. The greatest outcome for the programme from a Point People perspective is that we have been recommissioned by Lankelly Chase to run a second programme in 2016 which gives us an opportunity for us to adapt it based on our learnings from the previous programme. We will also be running a place-based version of the programme later in 2016. Over time, the ambition is that this programme develops and connects up a whole movement of frontline workers (and their insights) to influence systemic change. 

Any connections with other work

This work built on two earlier projects exploring the emerging field of systems change - our website, and the Keywords project with The Said Business School and the Institute for Chartered Accountants of England and Wales. Insights from this work shaped the input we designed for our project with Cumberland Lodge.

What else is on our radar in this space

We considered lots of personal development and leadership programmes as part of the thinking for this programme - for example the Clore Social Leadership Programme, and the Global Education Leadership Programme - and while there are parallels, we set out to design something that was focused on systems change first, and personal transformation second. We continue to learn from and be inspired by InWithForward and the work they are doing with frontline staff. We hope that we can link this work more into the iTeams and public service labs work that is seeing a growing adoption internationally.