Transformation: Reflections on theory and practice of system change
This resource is a 'thinkpiece', the 2nd in the DEEEP reflections series, written by Johannes Krause, co-founder of Impuls – Agency for applied utopia and DEEEP’s 'critical friend'. The resource is an abridged and very accessible synthesis of a critique of mainstream models/understandings of change, drawing on lessons from examining 6 alternative models. The English version is an abridged version of the original document (in German), in which the author offers a critique of the modern(ist) / rationalist logic of change as a sequence of defineable, linear, progressive steps towards desired, known goals (teleological progress).
Specifically, this paper seeks to deconstruct notions of progress, objectivity, dualism, fragmentation and instrumentality. In the original document the author compared six different models of theories of change: Kübler-Ross’s Process of change, Campbell’s Hero Journey, Presencing Institute’s U-Theory, Rohr & Hörster Field-Process- Model and Toynbee’s Rise and Fall of Civilisatins, from which he derived his propositions for 'alternative' engagement with change/transformation. The resource was created with the purpose of deepennning discussions and reflections on (systemic) change within the NGO sector.
This thinkpiece challenges many normalized, or what are considered common-sense, understandings of processes of change. It presents a well argued case for why deep, systemic change can largely be considered un-plannable and unthinkable as our very processes of thinking about change are too deeply conditioned by the very logic of the modern/capitalist/colonial system that we embody (we are the system). It also underscores the importance of crisis (rather than planning or programming) as the key component of change and argues for an adoption of a “beyond-reform” stance, which presumes the inevitable systemic collapse due to its non sustainability.