Theory of Change
At Starfish we believe that short-term global change towards sustainability will primarily happen as an emergency response to disruption, rather than as pro-actively created transformation.
However, we prefer to stay ahead of the curve and purposefully create the conditions for genuine sustainability now. This involves conscious change in systems, enterprises, methods, technologies, know-how, produce, goods, services, infrastructure, ways of being, ways of working together, and much more.
We know that working creatively on sustainability during an era of great disruption is going to require highly professional leadership, large-scale collaboration, deep commitment, self-care and work which is well matched to available resources and Starfish’s own capacity.
“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”
~ H. L. Mencken.
Our collaborative approach is also highly strategic and essential for sustainability initiatives to work.
Change is rarely simple or straight-forward.
Meaningful change comes from a collective and shared process of learning by doing, adaptation and experimentation. . Involving a range of people, organisations, stakeholders and specialists, makes it possible to create even more meaningful change.
This kind of change is Starfish’s speciality.
The level of learning and adaptation that is needed is being amplified by the speed and amount of change happening around us right now. This is likely to not only continue, but also increase.
Starfish’s theory of change, and in turn the way we work to create change, is reflective of this strategic context in the following ways:
ADAPTIVE. Starfish is an agile and creative network where leadership, responsibilities and resources are distributed and shared so that we can effectively respond to both:
Emerging opportunities ~ leading the transition by creating new and exciting models of sustainability and by growing the capabilities and resources required to achieve it.
Disruption ~ being responsive to shocks and crises so as to ameliorate and transform problems and weaknesses into solutions and strengths.
HOLISTIC. Starfish takes a comprehensive and integrated approach to sustainability which is place-based, whole-of-community and has a systems-wide focus. This is made possible by drawing upon our network of professionals and collaboration partners to form truly fit-for-purpose teams for each unique sustainability initiative and service.
COLLABORATIVE. Change processes are strongest if they are as fit-for-purpose as they can be, particularly in terms of the teams of people and other partners who are most deeply involved. Starfish has researched and developed leading-edge governance and developed collaborative systems for renewable energy, youth development, community housing, catchment management and mental health. Collaborative governance models address the need to align the efforts of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of services and stakeholders who share responsibility for a particular essential need, opportunity or challenge. Starfish’s work has enabled success in securing substantial funding for mental health services, renewable energy technologies, purpose-built youth facilities, alcohol and drug rehabilitation facilities, and landscape-scale regeneration.
START-UP INCUBATOR & AUSPICE. Starfish has developed a package of systems for sustainability start-ups. This professional fee-for-service significantly reduces the barriers to entry for start-ups by providing structures for governance, legal, financial, insurance, fundraising, and reporting requirements for a modest percentage of revenue. As these initiatives grow, they are supported initially by Starfish after which they are independently spun-off and ‘given away’ ~ with no strings attached!
UBER PARTICIPATION. Starfish has designed a range of processes and tools for facilitating large-scale participatory planning, research and learning. These methods are central to building common ground, understanding and agreement. Conversely, they address fragmentation and the weakening social licence of centralised, elite and hierarchical authorities.