Creating and Coordinating Change from Within

May 2, 2014
By Jenny Li Fowler, HKS Communications

Joe Hsueh MPA/ID 2005 had initially planned to spend a week volunteering with Buddhists in his native country, Taiwan. That week turned into a year. He tells The Guardian his time with the Buddhists made him realize that something was missing from his work life: “Direct human touch. That human touch is key to unlocking systems change,” says Hsueh.

Hsueh helps organizations with the process of changing large-scale systems from the bottom-up.

For example, Mexican fisherman had been maximizing their catch and depleting stocks of fish known as corvine off the coast of Mexico for many years. This drove down the price of fish, which led fisherman to feel the need to catch more fish – creating a vicious cycle.

Hsueh and his colleagues worked with a Mexican NGO and the Environmental Defense Fund to help create “catch shares,” a way of limiting overfishing used in other fishing communities.

Hsueh recently became a partner at SecondMuse, and is a founding partner of the Academy for Systemic Change.

SecondMuse defines itself as an innovation and collaboration agency, “we co-create prosperity by applying the art and science of collaboration to solve complex problems.”

The Art and Science of Systems Change
The Guardian — To grow systems change, a group of individuals and organizations formed the Academy for Systemic Change in 2012.

Joe Hsueh, one of its founding members, recently sat down with me to talk about systems change, how it works and why it matters.

The "why" is simple. "Big, complex problems cannot be solved by any one technological improvement or any one organization acting alone," Hsueh says.

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