Systems Change

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By Dr. Debra Colley

Through our Vincentian mission,  we ask …

 What must be done? and  How must it be done?

photo (5)Our journey in France allowed us to walk through cities where these questions began to unfold in the life of St. Vincent de Paul.   We gathered in Folleville realizing that we would not have our community of Vincentians had it not been for the history of all that transpired in that town – the question of “what must be done”  was asked here.

photo (4)We walked the path in Chatillon-sur-Chalaronne where the townspeople came to assist a neighbor in need – with so much food,  St. Vincent knew that we needed to organize the great charity of people – “how must it be done”  was asked here,  providing a clear example of systems change.

As leaders,  we must think about the effectiveness of our ‘best efforts’ if not organized and sustainable.  Our greatest challenges in serving those most in need require this systems thinking  – a purposefully planned and organized use of the goodness of people,  the professionalism and knowledge of the related disciplines,  and the effective use of resources.    The transformation that is needed to address issues of poverty today requires nothing less.

photo (3)photo (2)Our journey continues;  however,  I am struck by the relevance of these two questions (what must be done and how should it be done) in our leadership and in the issues facing our schools,  families,  and communities.   My question becomes  … how are we answering  them?

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