DESIGNING COLLABORATION: Workshop – Using systems thinking to design your collaboration

If you are pursuing large-scale social impact then it follows that you must be changing the system as well as reforming services.  Improving service delivery and integration is essential but not enough to create population level change.

But what does it mean to change the system?  How are system interventions different from service delivery programmatic ones?  And how does your collaboration use systems thinking to develop an effective strategy?

This workshop will answer these questions.  Through an interactive and applied format, you will be introduced to systems thinking and a toolkit for collaboratively assessing systems and then generating, prioritising and implementing systems change interventions.

This workshop was developed in 2017 by Collaboration for Impact and CSIRO’s Livelihood and Adaptive Development Team, with support from Australian Council for International Development (ACFID).  These partners are working together to offer this workshop more broadly to the Australian and International social change sectors in 2018.

Register now!


17 & 18 April, 9:30am – 5:00pm


WaterAid, Wellington Parade, East Melbourne


There is growing recognition globally that levels of complexity and uncertainty are increasing.  Strengthening resilience, that is strengthening a system’s ability to adapt and respond to external impacts while maintaining function, is a prerequisite for achieving improving outcomes for people and communities.  Social change initiatives in Australia and abroad will need to deliberately and collaboratively design for systemic resilience.


This 2-day workshop will be delivered by CFI with CSIRO co-facilitating on Day 1.  The workshop has been designed using a range of adult learning formats including:

  • Interactive group processes that build shared understanding of language. These processes can be taken and used by participants in their own work.
  • Pre-reading and content presentations on systems thinking, systems change interventions and collaborative responses
  • Instructions, guides and tools on how to collaboratively undertake system assessments and develop system change strategies
  • Use of a live case study to apply some of the tools during the workshop in order to build understanding and confidence
  • Working with participants live challenges around initiating and strengthening collaborations so they can apply systems thinking and systems change strategies.


You should attend this workshop if you are:

  • Involved in, leading or thinking about initiating a collaborative response to a complex challenge
  • Developing policy to better respond to complex challenges
  • Funding collaborative change processes
  • Playing a role enabling collaborations to develop their thinking and practice
  • Evaluating the impact of collaborative change processes

Learning Objectives:

By the end of the workshop participants will have:

  • Greater awareness and understanding of systems change
  • Practical experience applying systems thinking tools to a worked example
  • Skills designing collaborative responses to complex challenges
  • Developed insights and plans for making progress in their collaborative work


Early bird ticket price = $675 + GST (4 weeks before workshop)
Full ticket price = $750 + GST

Important note: This workshop will only go ahead if a minimum of 30 people register.  To enquire about numbers please email


Deborah O'Connell, CSIRO

Deborah is a member of the Adaptive Urban and Social Systems team at CSIRO Land and Water. The challenge is to make operational the concepts of resilience, adaptation, transformation and sustainability, and use the science to support decision-making in communities, industries, and governments. She takes a systems approach and enjoys working with people to build strong connections between scientists; those who make decisions in business, government and NGOs; and the communities that care about the issues at stake. She has a creative approach to collaboration and co-production of knowledge, and has built many successful partnerships with a range of people and organisations, as is reflected by the range of projects she has led, and her co-authorship on a range of different types of publications. She has an active role in the role of women in leadership, and was a participant in the inaugural Homeward Bound program for women in science leadership. More at

Michaela Cosijn

Michaela Cosijn is an International Development Research Officer in CSIRO with expertise in markets for the poor, public-private partnerships, natural resource management and monitoring and evaluation. She has previously worked as an independent consultant in East Africa and Asia with NGO’s, government and the private sector on aspects relating to environmental management and livelihoods strategies, as well as an environmental specialist to the oil and gas industry. She has also worked in New Zealand as an Environmental Planner.

Kerry Graham, Director & Founder, Collaboration for Impact

Kerry has worked in social change for over 20 years. Her purpose is to evolve the way social change happens in Australia for the benefit of young people.
Kerry is a Founder & Director of Collaboration for Impact – Australia’s leading organisation for learning how to respond to complex problems through effective collaboration. In this role, Kerry curates learning for and provides support to communities, corporations, governments, philanthropy and non-profit organisations on how to drive large-scale social change in intractable social challenges. Kerry also lectures on collaborative practice with Centre for Social Impact at University of New South Wales.
Prior to this Kerry held executive roles within national non-profit organisations (Inspire Foundation CEO; Good Beginnings Australia, COO); and advised governments on social policy (Australian Social Inclusion Board, NSW Treasurer’s Advisory Body). She holds qualifications in public policy, law, social work and community management.

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