Launching ‘Systemic’ – a Game for Applying Systems Change Thinking to Policy 

Lia Da Giau
Tuesday 6 February 2024

Policy Lab, and Matteo Menapace. Policy Lab, November 15, 2023. 

‘Systemic’ is one of the so-called ‘serious games’ developed by the UK government-affiliated Policy Lab as experimental methods to deliver their innovation strategy. The purpose of this game is to create a simulation space in which policymakers can play-test different approaches and changes to policy without real-life implications. The game is useful to prevent situations in which well-intended policies have unexpected negative consequences in other policy areas or on third parties who don’t benefit directly from the solution proposed. This risk is particularly high nowadays, because the challenges governments are facing are becoming more global and interconnected, with rise in violent conflict and environmental changes happening worldwide. As remarked by the creators of the tool, effectively tackling challenges like climate change, inequalities and aging populations cannot be done without collaboration across different departments and stakeholders. In the current picture, both locally and globally, the lack of coordinated action has the potential to nullify policy effectiveness, where the solution to a problem causes other socio-economic or environmental issues elsewhere.

While their impact might be regional/global, problems and solutions are tackled contextually – for example, aging population is a policy issue in the UK and other Western countries, while other geographies deal with the opposite situation. Yet, the framework of this toolkit is generally relevant enough to be used in diverse settings within and beyond policy-making environments. The ‘systems thinking’ approach explained through this game is becoming increasingly important in making sense of the complex global society that we live in and address its challenges, as demonstrated by its large application in fields like sustainable development and innovation. In this context, peace is one of the most complex global challenges that humanity has tried and is trying to address at different levels of governance and civil society. As such, practicing systems thinking and educating others to it through this toolkit can be particularly useful for people involved in the field of peace education and peace-building.

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