Policy Press

Leading change

A guide to whole systems working

By Margaret Attwood, Mike Pedler, Sue Pritchard and David Wilkinson


Feb 12, 2003

Page count

224 pages




234 x 156 mm


Policy Press
Leading change

There is continuing government pressure on public services to 'reform' and change. Expectations of new forms and standards of delivery, joined-up practice and the re-connection of services to users are high. Unfortunately, many policy makers have become dangerously reliant on mechanistic top-down audit and inspection regimes as the means of implementation.

This book sets out to redress the balance. It argues powerfully that whole systems approaches are required to lead the changes towards the demands for new service configurations, partnership working and local and neighbourhood governance. The book outlines the theory behind whole systems development and gives good practice guidance on how to effectively develop 'systems' to improve joined-up working.

"... strikes an excellent balance between theory and practice, losing neither in the process, and should appeal to both academics and practitioners of change." The British Journal of Healthcare Computing & Information Management

"... a significant contribution that presses the importance of achieving new levels of organisation in managing change and has huge potential for impacting on policy makers and practitioners alike." Journal of European Affairs

"Leading Change is a timely and valuable contribution to the debate on modernisation' and 'delivery' in public services. The authors' arguments and proposals will ring bells among managers and front-line workers across sectors. This book deserves a wide readership and is an excellent guide to 'whole systems' thinking and the benefits it could bring to the management of public services." Ian Christie, New Economics Foundation and The Local Futures Group

"Anybody who is interested in effecting deep change in an organisation will benefit from this book. The authors demonstrate real understanding of all the forces for change and combine systems thinking with behavioural and other issues to confront them. Strongly recommended." Brenda Gourley, The Open University

"Leading change will be a help and inspiration to those countless leaders at every level who are passionate about creating public services that are truly world class." David Fillingham, NHS Modernisation Agency

"The authors of Leading Change write from experience - their own and that of others. Much of what they say will be disturbing to well-motivated though weary leaders of organisations working to improve social conditions but offers hope and support to those who want to change themselves and thus to change others. We should follow their suggestions - after all we know that what we are doing now does not work so there's all to play for." Fiona Ellis, Northern Rock Foundation

"This book is extremely important and should be welcomed by grassroots communities. Traditional top-down solutions have clearly failed and the authors offer us a practical framework placing service users and local citizens at the centre of the change agenda. In my view a seminal text." Peter Brookes, Community Support Unit, Durham County Council

Margaret Attwood, Mike Pedler, Sue Pritchard and David Wilkinson are colleagues in Whole Systems Development, the consulting network.

Contents: Forewords Will Hutton and David Fillingham; Prologue; Why do we need whole systems change?; How do we put these fine words into action? An overview of whole systems development; The emerging practice of whole systems development; Leadership: keeping the big picture in view; Public learning; Valuing difference and diversity: getting the whole system into the room; Meeting differently: large and small group working; Follow-through and sticking with it; From organisations to networks; Confirming cases: local problems and local solutions within whole systems; Epilogue.

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