Theme 7_1_

Systems Expert
David Nabarro, Strategic Director, 4SD

John Atkinson, Systems Leadership and Transformational Change Adviser

ECD Expert
Elizabeth Lule, Executive Director, ECDAN

Shekufeh Zonji, Global Technical Lead, ECDAN

Session Description

Leading beyond organisational authority is challenging, requiring mindsets and approaches that enable progress where views are contested, and power is diffuse. Understanding a systems leadership mindset, when it might be valuable and some practices for applying it enables leaders to make progress in these complex and often Political environments. This masterclass will explore the type of settings where systems leadership is appropriate. It will expand on how transformational shifts can occur and the role of leadership in enabling them. It will use ‘dialoguing’ as an example of practice that can accelerate and amplify transformational action. Five qualities of thought and action are introduced as a mindset for leading in ‘living systems’.

Learning Objectives:
Participants will come out of the session with a better understanding of the following:

  • How transformation can happen in complex environments
  • The leadership mindset necessary to support this transformation.
  • How dialoguing can be used as a practice for complex change.

Session Homework:
Please review the following resource before the session:

  1. Comfort in Complexity
  2. Fail Fast or Zero Defects?

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Watch Session in Spanish

Speaker Bios

David Nabarro, Strategic Director, 4SD

David Nabarro is Strategic Director of the Swiss-based social enterprise, 4SD (Skills Systems and Synergies for Sustainable Development) that trains and mentors leaders for sustainable development. Through his expansive career, he has worked in executive roles with the UK Department for International Development, the UK Government Foreign Office, and various agencies within the UN system including the WHO. His work has focused on food systems, nutrition and health, as well as nature-based solutions in climate action. David has curated the Food Systems Dialogues involving more than 1700 leaders in 29 locations and contributed to preparations for the UN’s September 2019 Climate Action Summit.

John Atkinson, Systems Leadership and Transformational Change Adviser

John Atkinson is a designer, architect and catalyst for whole system change and has been at the forefront of developing understanding of working with organisations as living systems for over 25 years. He has worked across climate, health, and food systems, and is one of the leading practitioners in public service leadership development in the United Kingdom. He curates ‘’ described as ‘the best online resource for systems change’. John has also published ‘The Art of Change Making’ for university leadership programmes and is a regular contributor on systems leadership related topics in the sector press and on national platforms.

Elizabeth Lule, Executive Director, ECDAN

Elizabeth is a widely recognized expert on international development and global health issues and has devoted her career to strengthening global commitments and programs addressing the needs of women, adolescents, children, and infant. She has been instrumental in establishing and supporting global partnerships, networks, and coalitions to improve reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health and HIV programs, and was the founding chair of the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition. She has held senior positions at the World Bank and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, serves on several Boards of Directors, and has been a member of global think tanks, UN Inter-Agency Task Teams and global advisory groups. Elizabeth is a passionate advocate for the rights and well-being of women and children.

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Have any questions or ideas for the series, contact [email protected].

For more resources on systems thinking, please visit the Systems Thinking for ECD webpage.