long logo 1

ABLe Change Tools

The online tools listed in the tabs below are organized around the steps in the ABLe Change Process for Systems Change*. Many of these tools are similar to those used in community assessment and strategic planning processes, and are meant to build on the range of local capacities communities already have in place. The ABLe Change tools are unique, however, in that they intentionally incorporate a systems lens which helps equip communities to more effectively pursue transformative systems change.

1. Define a Problem

1.  Define a Targeted Problem  

Scroll down for tools related to these activities: 

One of the most important steps in a community change effort is engaging diverse stakeholders in defining the problem to target for change. While many communities prefer to focus on goals and assets, systems change efforts often prioritize SOLVING PROBLEMS because the problem lens provides insights into community habits and fits well with many systems change processes.

Target   Activities Within This Step:

Scroll down for tools related to these activities:  

  • Identify Population-level Problems
  • Prioritize Problems by Looking at Data
  • Summarize Prioritized Problems into a Shared Vision or Problem Framework 

Identify Population-Level Problems

1. Identify a targeted population-level  problem to address with your efforts (e.g., obesity, maternal and infant health, teen pregnancy, etc.). We refer to this as the “Big P” problem.

2. Use research, existing data, and local experiences to identify relevant population-level “little p” problems contributing to this “Big P” problem in your region, such as health behaviors, psychosocial stressors, and connection to social support.

 

Prioritize Problems by Looking at Data

1. Gather and organize disaggregated data (e.g., broken out by age, race/ethnicity, gender, geography, and other relevant characteristics) on the “Big P” problem and contributing “little p” problems. In particular, help stakeholders understand and identify inequities within this data to target for change.

2. Engage stakeholders in using the data to prioritize “Big P” and “little p” problems to address, including priority population(s) most affected by these problems and inequities. For example, stakeholders could use sticky dots to vote on their priorities.

Summarize Prioritized Problems into a Shared Vision or Problem Framework

 Summarize Prioritized Problems into a Shared Vision or Problem Framework
  • Summarize targeted problem and prioritized little p problems into a Shared Vision or framework
  • Embed shared visions across community

A Closer Look at Engaging Stakeholders in Defining the Problem: Visioning

Facilitating a Visioning Process  
 
Engage Diverse Perspectives
Engage Diverse Perspectives
 
 
   

 

 


The content on this website is intended to complement ABLe Change Training and as such, the target audience is participants in ABLe Change offerings.  Materials are copyrighted by Michigan State University. You may not distribute, copy, or otherwise reproduce any portion of these materials without permission. 

2. Determine System Boundaries

2.  Determine System Boundaries 

Some systems thinkers say that collectively defining boundaries around a targeted problem can be one of the most transformative processes within a change effort. This is because these boundaries determine who and what is targeted for change, and which voices have a role in the effort's ongoing learning and action. A close look at potential inequities is an essential part of defining a targeted problem.

SystemBoundaries  Activities Within This Step

Scroll down for tools related to these activities: 

  • Define system boundaries around Targeted Problem
  • Align infrastructure with expanded system boundaries                        

Define System Boundaries around Targeted Problem

Define system boundaries around Targeted Problem
  • Identify relevant perspectives across vertical (e.g., leaders, staff, constituents) and horizontal (e.g., cross-sector, cross-department) levels who should be engaged to address targeted problems
  • Identify ways to engage these perspectives in understanding the problem, designing solutions, implementing action, and learning for continuous improvement
 
 
 

Align Infrastructure with Expanded System Boundaries

 

Align infrastructure with expanded system boundaries

  • Determine how to expand or create an infrastructure to engage prioritized perspective groups
  • Create safe spaces for stakeholders to authentically engage in discussion and learning
 

The content on this website is intended to complement ABLe Change Training and as such, the target audience is participants in ABLe Change offerings.  Materials are copyrighted by Michigan State University. You may not distribute, copy, or otherwise reproduce any portion of these materials without permission. 

3. Understand the System

3.  Understand the Local System 

A System Scan is a process to understand community system conditions (i.e., mindsets, components, connections, regulations, resources, and power) influencing targeted problems. Communities can use the system scan process to gather information about their system from diverse groups of stakeholders and to identify collective targets for systems change.

LocalSystem   Activities Within This Step:

Scroll down for tools related to these activities:

  

Scan Community Conditions Influencing the Targeted Problem

Scan Community System Conditions Influencing the Targeted Problem

  • Identify what information is needed to understand the root causes of the Targeted Problem, Prioritized little p problems, and social determinants of health
  • Identify diverse perspectives and sources to provide this information
  • Design methods and approaches to gather this information
  • Gather information
  •                                                                                
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A Closer Look: Hybrid Approaches

Tools for Everyone  
 
   
Tools for Early Childhood Efforts  
                                                                
 
 
 

 

Engage Stakeholders in Making Sense of System Scan Information

Engage stakeholders in making sense of system scan information
  • Clean and prepare system scan information for sense-making
  • Engage stakeholders in sorting system scan information and developing themes

   

 
Organizing System Information  
 
 
Engaging Stakeholders in Sense-Making  
 
 
 
 
Finding Actionable Issues  
 
 
Prioritizing Collective Change Targets  
 

 

Prioritize Powerful and Feasible Drivers

 

Prioritize Powerful and Feasible Drivers
  • Prioritize powerful and feasible root causes to target with efforts
  • Identify who can address non-prioritized root causes and create a feedback loop to share information
 
  • Example Prioritizing Worksheet (coming soon)
 
  • Worksheet to Address Non-Prioritized Drivers (coming soon)
 

Create a Pathway for Change

Create a Pathway for Change
  • Summarize prioritized root causes from system scan into a Pathway for Change to guide strategy design and outcome tracking.

  • Pathway for Change Template (coming soon)
 
 
The content on this website is intended to complement ABLe Change Training and as such, the target audience is participants in ABLe Change offerings.  Materials are copyrighted by Michigan State University. You may not distribute, copy, or otherwise reproduce any portion of these materials without permission. 

4. Adopt a Shared Agenda

4.  Adopt a Shared Agenda 

A Shared Agenda is a tool to unite diverse stakeholders around a shared set of targeted systems changes. The Shared Agenda helps stakeholders within a local infrastructure – from youth and families all the way to top leaders – align their efforts to promote the same systems changes while pursuing unique action and learning from their particular system perspective.
SharedAgenda  Activities Within This Step ABLe Tools Downloads
  • Create a shared agenda incorporating the prioritized targets for change.
  • Use the shared agenda to align collective efforts around prioritized systems change targets.

The content on this website is intended to complement ABLe Change Training and as such, the target audience is participants in ABLe Change offerings.  Materials are copyrighted by Michigan State University. You may not distribute, copy, or otherwise reproduce any portion of these materials without permission. 

 

5. Design Strategies

5.  Design Powerful Systems Change Strategies

Once you have identified and prioritized root causes, you are ready to design Powerful Systems Change Strategies. Powerful strategies are needed that will transform the local community system by tackling root causes AND creating new desired habits.
DesignSystems  Activities Within This Step ABLe Tools Downloads

Design Powerful Systems Change Strategies

  • Use the following approaches to design powerful strategies: Disruptive Thinking, Design Thinking, Systems Thinking
  • Use the Powerful Strategies Check List to assess strategy ideas and revise as necessary
Prepare For Action
  • Engage stakeholders essential for implementation or other actions
  • Identify where to Pilot Strategy Ideas
  • Develop materials, processes, or protocols related to strategy ideas (e.g., draft shared consent form, select curriculum to adopt, design training program, create social marketing plan and talking points)
  • Guide to Developing Actions to Initiate Strategies (coming soon)

The content on this website is intended to complement ABLe Change Training and as such, the target audience is participants in ABLe Change offerings.  Materials are copyrighted by Michigan State University. You may not distribute, copy, or otherwise reproduce any portion of these materials without permission. 

 

6. Implement Effectively

6.  Build a Climate for Effective Implementation  

Great strategic designs for promoting community change are not enough; systems change efforts must also attend to how effectively their proposed strategies are carried out by assessing and building a climate for effective implementation.
BuildClimate   Activities Within This Step ABLe Tools Downloads

Anticipate and Address Implementation Barriers

  • Assess implementation barriers across multiple system actors, settings, and layers prior to launching strategies
  • Build needed implementation conditions (mindsets/readiness, components, connections/diffusion, resources/capacity, regulations, power)
  •  Anticipating Implementation Barriers (coming soon)
Track Efforts
  • Set up processes to track the reach and effectiveness of initiated strategies and actions
  • Gather rapid feedback from relevant perspectives on emerging implementation concerns
  • Design and launch strategies/changes to address emerging implementation challenges
 
  • Tracking Initiated Efforts Planning Guide (coming soon)

 The content on this website is intended to complement ABLe Change Training and as such, the target audience is participants in ABLe Change offerings.  Materials are copyrighted by Michigan State University. You may not distribute, copy, or otherwise reproduce any portion of these materials without permission. 

7. Promote Quick Wins

7.  Promote Quick Wins

The first step in incubating change is to foster small, immediate changes across the system. The foundation of this work is “small wins.” A small win is a change in the system that is accomplished within six months or less. Small wins meet little resistance in the system, and any barriers to their occurrence are easy to overcome. Small wins ultimately lead to larger wins and to the desired systems changes.
QuickWins   Activities Within This Step ABLe Tools Downloads

Initiate Action

  • Launch actions across the system that can be accomplished within 3 months or less to move strategies and efforts forward
  • Provide behind-the-scenes coaching support to ensure actions are implemented effectively
The content on this website is intended to complement ABLe Change Training and as such, the target audience is participants in ABLe Change offerings.  Materials are copyrighted by Michigan State University. You may not distribute, copy, or otherwise reproduce any portion of these materials without permission. 

 

8. Learn for Continuous Improvement

8. Learn for Continuous Improvement

Continuous learning is an iterative, ongoing process where diverse stakeholders define and understand local problems, design systems change strategies to address those problems, carry out actions collectively, and learn about their progress for continuous improvement and adaptation. 
ActionLearning   Activities Within This Step ABLe Tools Downloads

Assess Impact

  • Collect information to determine if your efforts were successful and leading to changes in your targeted problem
  • Make Sense of Findings (To what extend did your efforts address your targeted problem? What worked? What didn’t work and why?)
Determine Next Steps:
  • Revisit your problem definition
  • Design a different solution or adjust your approach
  • Pay more attention to implementation concerns
  • Expand your effort and take it to scale because it was successful
  • Collect more data to better understand your impact
  • Share your success with others in the community

 

A Closer Look: Family Coalition

   

The content on this website is intended to complement ABLe Change Training and as such, the target audience is participants in ABLe Change offerings.  Materials are copyrighted by Michigan State University. You may not distribute, copy, or otherwise reproduce any portion of these materials without permission. 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to register as a website user.             Already a registered user?  Login here.

In addition, you can sign up for our mailing list to receive updates about future learning opportunities.

Learn More About ABLe Change!