2013 Tutu Fellow Dr Francois Bonnici has co-authored with Cynthia Rayner a book titled The Systems Work of Social Change: How to Harness Connection, Context, and Power to Cultivate Deep and Enduring Change.
The book has been well received by critics, giving glowing reviews, and was recognized by the Terry McAdam Book Award - Changing the way we think - at the Alliance for Nonprofit Management conference in November 2022. It was selected from among 200 books on social change published in 2021.
In their publication, Cythia and Francois demonstrate the power of building institutions capable of integrated analysis and adaptive learning, as well as challenge us to confront old ways of thinking that may have served us in an earlier era but no longer do so. Francois said on LinkedIn that ultimately this book was a tribute to all the organizations and people he and Cynthia had worked with around the world: BuurtzorgT, Fundación Escuela Nueva, Catalyst 2030, Community Independence Initiative, mothers2mothers, RLabs *Reconstructed Living Lab , Nidan India, SDI. (Slum Dwellers International).
The book tackles complex, difficult issues, such as poverty, inequality, racial justice, and climate change. It seeks to change perspectives, arguing that current approaches to social change, which rely on industrial models of production and power to "solve" social problems, are not helping. In fact, they are designed to entrench the status quo. In the book, they draw on 200 years of history - and a treasure trove of stories of committed social changemakers - to uncover principles and practices for social change that radically depart from these approaches. The book includes eight in-depth case studies of Schwab Foundation Awardees such as slumdwellers and how changes have been accomplished. You can read a one example on the World Economic Forum website.
Rather than delivering solutions, the book looks at the process of change itself. Through rich storytelling and lucid analysis, the authors show that connection, context, and power sit at the heart of the change process, ensuring broader agency for people and communities to create social systems that are responsive and representative in a rapidly changing world. Simple yet profound, this book distills a timely set of lessons for practitioners, leaders, scholars, and policymakers.
Francois is a public health physician, university professor, social change practitioner, foundation leader and author. He is the Director of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship and Head of Social Innovation at the World Economic Forum.
He was the former Founding Director of the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship, University of Cape Town, the first academic centre dedicated to social innovation in Africa, where he still serves as Adjunct Associate Professor. His career is rooted in front-line medical and humanitarian work and he has worked extensively with public sector, civil society, business and philanthropy to build progressive and catalytic partnerships. Cynthia Rayner is a researcher, writer, lecturer, and social change practitioner affiliated with the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business.
The book can be found at Amazon.
In the Alliance for Nonprofit Management video, you can see some discussion of the book and an appearance by Francois and Cynthia.