The Art of Change Making

Extract from The Art of Change Making. Freely available at

Curated and produced by John Atkinson, Emma Loftus and John Jarvis on behalf of the Systems Leadership Steering Group
The Art of Change Making

For ten years, the Leadership Centre has sought to further our knowledge of what really works in response to the challenges of social issues in places around England. Through working with political, community and organisational leaders, the focus has evolved from local leadership projects through ‘Total Place’ to today’s ‘system leadership’ and ‘local vision’ work.

Working now with partners from across the health and social care systems, supported by the ‘Systems Leadership Steering Group’, local vision projects are underway or delivered in over fifty locations, in counties and cities, towns and boroughs. Each has focused on how great local leadership can make a great place. Each has explored how we might help people live more meaningful lives through the avenue of a particular defined social issue such as reducing food poverty, tackling obesity or addressing long-term health conditions.

In so doing we have been able to determine how different forms of leadership can influence these issues for the longer term. By experiencing successful approaches in one setting, people have been able to develop their capacity for leadership across a much wider system.

This guide is assembled from talking with the ‘enablers’ who have worked with each of these places. We asked them to share the models and approaches they have used in engaging with those places and the issues they chose to focus on. As such it is a rich and pragmatic handbook, based in real experience, sometimes honed over decades. It makes no pretence of being exhaustive or academically rigorous. Instead it shows how this work has been approached and offers a fresh perspective into working with novel and intransigent social issues whilst drawing on an extensive body of knowledge and wisdom.

The Art of Change Making draws on a huge tradition and body of work that has its roots in many sources. We have tried always to go back to the original thought and credit the creators of the ideas and tools we have used. You will find the links to sources at the foot of each page and at the end of the guide. The people who built these ways of seeing the world and working with it and in it are the founders of this work.

It is freely available from The Leadership Centre at;

contact Emma Loftus at ejlresearch