A Wayfinder’s Guide to Systems Transformation


On 30-31 August 2017 in London, 14 participants from around the world met to explore the question of ‘how might we approach transformational change for complex challenges in the future?’ The workshop was convened by the Australian Futures Project, a not-for-profit that seeks to create the enabling conditions for long-termism including the space for new insights, networks, capabilities, and transformation. The workshop was co-facilitated by Fiona McKenzie and Megan Seneque. Participants were:

  • Dr Yannick Beaudoin, Chief Scientist, GRID-Arendal
  • Julie Birtles, Founder, Beyond Excellence
  • Paul Chatterton, Founder and lead, WWF Landscape Finance Lab
  • Sarah Gillinson, Chief Executive, Innovation Unit
  • Sandy Killick, Managing Director, Focused Facilitation
  • Dr Adrienne Mannov, Social Anthropologist, World Maritime University
  • Dr Fiona McKenzie, Co-Founder & Director of Strategy, Australian Futures Project
  • Julie Munk, Network & Project Manager, Social Innovation Exchange
  • Alex Roberts, Innovation Specialist, Observatory of Public Sector Innovation, OECD
  • Valmae Rose, Director, Future By Design Australia
  • Megan Seneque, International Development Advisor, Co-Facilitator, WE-Africa Lab
  • Dr Andrea Siodmok, Head of the Policy Lab; Deputy Director, (UK) Cabinet Office
  • Dr Katherine Trebeck, Global Research Policy Advisor, Oxfam
  • Dieter Van den Broeck, Landscape orchestrator and science/education, Commonland


We (the participants) include a mix of practitioners and academics in systems and design thinking, innovation, and the social and physical sciences. We represent a diversity of sectors, disciplines, and geographies. We share a common commitment to achieving genuine systems transformation and, cumulatively, possess a wealth of experience in empowering such change – and change makers – in complex contexts. We also share an interest in honing and refining our practice through continuous learning.

With this spirit, the workshop involved two days of discussions that featured case studies of participant projects, reflections on lessons learnt, and insights into approaches for creating transformational change. Despite the diversity of our work, we found we had common experiences of the joys and frustrations of systems change. We had all been through times of professional loneliness and impatience, times of the exhilaration witnessing a ‘window open’ or minds changed, and we all shared the sense that this work is vital if the future is going to be one of human and ecological wellbeing.

The workshop was a wonderful opportunity to create and collaborate and, as an outcome, we thought it would be worthwhile to share our discussion. The result is A wayfinder’s guide to systems transformation: 18 insights for catalysts and convenors.