Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Effective use of Systems in policy review and development

The Munro Review of Child Protection in England by Professor Eileen Munro of  LSE  has released a first report entitled: 'A Systems Analysis'.   It is recommended reading for anyone interested to see how good systems thinking and practice can help to frame and structure an important inquiry such as this one.  It also highlights the role that Systems capability can play in formulating public policy and effecting good governance.  David Lane, Reader in Management Science at LSE is providing expertise in Systems in support of the review.

In introducing this report Prof. Munro describes how it: 

'sets out the systems approach I am taking to understand how reforms interact and the effect these interactions are having on practice. It is at the front line where they come together, at present creating an imbalance and distortion of practice priorities.'

In outlining the report's approach to Systems is argued that:

'A systems approach will help this review to avoid looking at parts of the child protection system in isolation, and to analyse how the system functions as a whole. Social workers and other professionals accept many previous reforms were well intended but their interaction and cumulative effect on frontline practice have had unintended consequences. A systems approach will help to understand how and why previous reforms have had both beneficial and adverse consequences and how the review might improve how the system supports social workers and other professionals to protect children and young people better in the future.

The review will use systems theory in two ways. First, the review will look back at past reforms to explain what has happened, with systems theory providing a strong basis to build the review’s understanding. Second, the intention is to use systems theory analysis to look forward – with systems theory helping the review design an improved approach. The first leads naturally to the second since what is needed is a stronger understanding of the system and analysis of how aspects of the system interact with each other before the review recommends any further changes.'

For more background see this clip or this article

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