Systems for Change: key learning

Systems that are making progress recognise that there is existing activity to support social and economic development in their area.

13 September 2023

This article forms part of the Systems for Change project, which provides practical learning and tools to support integrated care systems to drive social and economic development.

If you work in an integrated care system, VCSE organisation, local government, business or academia and are looking to bring people together to improve people’s lives, the Systems for Change learning platform has been developed for you.

To capture learning from systems, we used a variety of interview styles and facilitation techniques to try to better understand what ICSs are doing in this space, how they are making things happen and what is helping along the way.

In summary, we learnt that:

  • Good practice exists. There are lots of ways that ICSs are supporting social and economic development in practice, and these vary from system to system.
  • But it is the development of a whole-system approach, based on strong relationships and structures for partnership, that makes the difference to how much progress is made on social and economic development, and therefore also health and wellbeing, in local areas.
  • Systems that are making progress on this purpose recognise that there is existing activity to support social and economic development in their area. In this regard this is a space that ICSs are coming into rather than something they need to create from scratch. Partners in integrated care partnerships understand that their role is to create the right conditions for action, rather than doing it all themselves. Partnering with the VCSE sector and local government and recognising and enabling the work of people and organisations across and within all communities, including the grassroots, is central to success.
  • Leaders within systems can encourage the development of this whole-system approach in a number of ways – we identify ten common approaches – including making best use of the system’s convening power, removing practical barriers to system working, outlining strategic ambitions, and setting the right tone through their leadership style.

Find out more about the Systems for Change project and access a range of resources.