Community and Systems Change

The ABLe Change Framework is designed to be dynamic and adaptive to local conditions and problems, providing stakeholders with the flexibility they need to effectively address targeted population-level problems.

Photo of Erin Watson and Pennie Foster-Fishman

The ABLe Change framework was first developed and published by Dr. Pennie Foster-Fishman and Dr. Erin Watson in 2011.  The framework is being used by the System exChange staff to help organizations, communities and government entities from all over the country and the world improve the success of community change efforts and more effectively address significant social issues. The principles and practices of the ABLe Change Framework work together to result in systems changes that drive improved place conditions. The ABLe Change Framework is designed to be dynamic and adaptive to local conditions and problems, providing stakeholders with the flexibility they need to effectively address targeted population-level problems.

There are six “Simple Rules” that guide work within the ABLe Change framework:

ENGAGE DIVERSE PERSPECTIVES

Diverse stakeholders hold unique perspectives on the system, its problems, and possible solutions. The more perspectives accessed and understood, the more accurate the understanding.

THINK SYSTEMICALLY
Change efforts often target the surface of problems, not the underlying systemic conditions causing local problems. Thinking systemically attends to and shifts system characteristics and their interactions. and the more effective the solutions.

INCUBATE CHANGE
Transformative change is accelerated when communities create the conditions for rapid innovation to occur across the community system. Incubating change includes fostering small actions across multiple community layers as well as leveraging systemic feedback loops to reinforce the change.

IMPLEMENT CHANGE EFFECTIVELY
Great strategic designs for promoting community change are not enough; systems change efforts must also attend to how effectively their proposed strategies are carried out by assessing and building a climate for effective implementation.

ADAPT QUICKLY
Problems facing our communities today are complex and ever-changing. Transformative change requires an ongoing, dynamic process, where understanding, learning and adapting become more important than planning. To adapt quickly, you must identify and quickly respond to emerging problems and opportunities.

PURSUE SOCIAL JUSTICE
In order to really shift the status quo, one must understand disparities in outcomes and opportunities. Pursuing social justice includes identifying, acknowledging, and tackling the inequities that exist.

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