2022 in review – your favorite LfS content
Another year has passed, and this provides a timely opportunity to reflect on what content resonated most with visitors to the Learning for Sustainability (LfS) site in 2022. So – based on site statistics – here are the most visited pages in terms of topic areas and related blog posts.
The Learning for Sustainability (LfS) website operates as an international clearinghouse for on-line resources around collaboration, social learning and adaptation. In the navigation bar above you’ll find pages of annotated links pointing to targeted resources on a range of relevant and interrelated topics. During 2022 the site averaged more than 1,000 visits each day*. Links to topics including: systems thinking, reflective practice, monitoring & evaluation, systemic design and facilitation all featured in the most requested content.
Most visited resource pages
While the LfS home page remained the preferred choice of entry for most, some of the most visited topic pages were:
- Systems thinking. This page points to sites providing toolkits and tools to support systems thinking. It encourages practitioners to understand and analyse the contexts within which they operate, as a precursor to designing programs/policies that can adapt as conditions on the ground change.
- Reflective and reflexive practice. Reflective thinking involves looking back on your thoughts, feelings and actions and examining how you performed and how you might improve. Reflexive practice is more about how we can use that thinking “in the moment”, by assessing a situation as it is happening and consider and adapt the role we are playing in the current outcome.
- Monitoring, evaluating and learning (MEL). This page looks at how planning links with monitoring and evaluation to support and guide a learning-based approach to management. It introduces related topics such as social learning, engagement, theory of change and associated logic models.
- Systemic design. Synonomous with co-design – it differs from more traditional service or experience design in terms of scale, social complexity and integration – it is concerned with higher order social systems that that entail multiple subsystems. By integrating systems thinking (and its methods) with design thinking, systemic design brings social-centered design to complex, multi-stakeholder service systems.
- Theory of change (ToC). This page provides links to guides for using ToC – a methodological approach for planning, participation, and evaluation. It shows how its use can help orient diverse program stakeholders to work together and plan for outcomes by envisaging a ‘big picture’ view of how and why a desired change is expected to happen in a particular context.
Most read LfS posts
Some of our most popular and engaging content in 2022 was, not surprisingly, blog posts that provide introductory material and links that ground our understanding of key topic areas. Check out these posts that were most popular with readers in the last year.
- An introduction to systems thinking and systemic design – concepts and tools. This post and included slide set provide an introduction to systems thinking and systemic design. The material covers five main topic areas: i) Why decision-makers are moving towards systems-based approaches; ii) systems thinking basics; iii) systemic design; iv) tools and methods; and v) nurturing and supporting systems thinking in your team or organisation.
- After action reviews – and how they can be linked with ToCs to support strategic thinking. This post introduces After Action Reviews (AARs), and indicates how theories of change (ToC) and AARs can be used in tandem to create both the space and guidance for strategic learning, and subsequent adaptation and innovation.
- Managing remote and distributed teams. This post acknowledges the growth and reality for businesses and organisations in having staff working remotely (at least some of the time). It provides tips across three strategic areas for improving online collaboration: i) clarifying roles, goals and processes; ii) communication and engagement; and iii) online collaborative tools.
- Complicated or complex – knowing the difference is important. This post reminds us that understanding the difference between complex and complicated systems is becoming important for many aspects of management and policy. Each system is better managed with different leadership, tools and approaches. This post outlines the differences, and provides an introduction to management tools and leadership tasks best suited for complexity.
It is clear that people are looking for a range of approaches to help them deal with more complex development challenges. Key concepts behind this thinking include collaboration, responsiveness, innovation, systems thinking and social learning. In turn, this will require operational teams across a range of areas to move beyond a mainstream focus on technical expertise to also include people with skills in surfacing other perspectives, listening and actively engaging with a range of partners. It’s against this background that the Learning for Sustainability site showcases the wide range of activities, skills and processes that collectively support constructive engagement, co-design, adaptation, and reflective practice.
* Using AW stats
An independent systems scientist, action research practitioner and evaluator, with 30 years of experience in sustainable development and natural resource management. He is particularly interested in the development of planning, monitoring and evaluation tools that are outcome focused, and contribute towards efforts that foster social learning, sustainable development and adaptive management.
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