Exploring new models for social progress with the System Catalysts podcast
Virgin Unite is proud to support the System Catalysts podcast. Jeff Walker, co-host of the podcast, shares more about what you can expect from the weekly episodes…
Let’s face it: we can’t fix the world alone. And let’s face another truth: there’s a lot that needs fixing.
In the midst of today’s global crises, we are seeing a new model for social progress emerge. It’s based on systems change thinking – a holistic approach to problem-solving that dives deep into the root causes of a new leadership style. It’s a model that is not reliant on the brilliance or charisma of any single individual, a ‘silver bullet’, or a one-size-fits-all solution, but draws upon the experience, talents, resources, and wisdom of diverse partners from many walks of life.
We call these new leaders who are bringing more inclusive, connective, system-level solutions to our most persistent challenges system catalysts. To tap into their wealth of knowledge to share with current and future catalysts, we made a podcast called, you guessed it, System Catalysts.
Each week, my co-hosts, English Sall and Tulaine Montgomery, and I speak to activists, philanthropists, and changemakers who share their stories and lived experiences in how they’ve collaborated with others to successfully tackle issues in their sector. These individuals have created a model for systems change that is locally driven and network-supported – a new way to organise energy around a common goal that allows groups and communities to practise their own brand of activism while sharing best practices and breakthrough ideas with partners from across town or around the globe.
When tackling complex issues, we learn from The END Fund that it’s not enough to throw money and hope neglected tropical diseases are eradicated, but to break down the boardroom walls and actively involve donors and board members in the solution. We learn from Giving Tuesday that it’s unwise to hold onto an idea for the sake of control, but allowing an idea to grow in the hands of others could be immensely powerful (it’s how they raised $3.1 billion in just 24 hours!). And we learn from GirlTrek that relying on a healthcare system plagued by systemic racism won’t keep Black women from dying younger. However, walking and talking with one’s community can lead to a bottom-up approach to systems change.
The stories we hear on the podcast affirm our belief that collaboration is the secret ingredient to scalable and sustainable systems change. Collectively, we possess the makings of a powerful solution. But it’s not enough for us to talk the talk (podcast pun intended) but to walk the walk.
When thinking about the podcast, we knew we had to find like-minded people and organisations to collaborate with. System Catalysts wouldn’t be as successful without our partners, including Virgin Unite. I’ve known Jean Oelwang, Virgin Unite’s founding CEO and President, for many years due to our work in philanthropy. Not only is her desire to bring people together and create change contagious, but Virgin Unite’s mission to catalyse radical collaboration to challenge the world’s problems aligns with our own. Together, we’ve created something to be proud of.
Listen to the System Catalysts podcast on any major platform, or follow us on Instagram or LinkedIn for updates. Like what we learned from Giving Tuesday, we hope that these stories and lessons are taken and grown in the hands of others. Together, we can make a difference.
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