An i2Insights story based on one originally told by Thea Snow, David Murikumthara, Teya Dusseldorp, Rachel Fyfe, Lila Wolff and Jane McCracken
How is storytelling important in driving systems change? What does good storytelling look like? What makes it hard to tell stories about systems change work? We address these three questions.
But first, what do we mean by systems change? We use the definition developed by New Philanthropy Capital (Abercrombie et al. 2015): “Systems change aims to bring about lasting change by altering underlying structures and supporting mechanisms which make the system operate in a particular way. These can include policies, routines, relationships, resources, power structures and values.”
How is storytelling important in driving systems change?
Stories play different roles at different levels of the system. They can be used to change the system, as well to evaluate, understand and showcase the change that is occurring.
One way for stories to change the system is by supporting individuals to change how they see themselves, their communities, and their broader context. Systems change when people change: how they relate to others, who they are in relationship with, and what they believe they are capable of doing. Stories change the system by supporting individuals to: