Anna Birney

CEO (Chief Enabling/Evolving Officer) at the School of System Change

  • Enabling Team
  • Facilitator


Anna is passionate about designing and facilitating systems change programmes that support people, communities, and organisations to transform their practice.

Anna started facilitating multi-stakeholder processes around the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002. At WWF-UK she ran a six-year education programme on system change which included setting up 56 communities of practice to knit together innovative practices. This experience supported her to develop practical system change frameworks for WWF-UK and Forum for the Future as well as organisations including Unilever, Nike, Shell Foundation, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Innovate UK and the NHS, through the System Innovation Lab - experimenting and learning how to develop different practices. 

Anna has worked on and coached a wide number of systems change projects and initiatives across sectors and systems – for example the Scottish Climate Assembly, Oxfam’s System Innovation in Woman’s Economic Empowerment, Boundless Roots Community and Bosch Foundation Strategy. As well as being a collaborative director on Marine CoLab and #Oneless.

Anna seeded and set up the School of System Change in 2016, where she designs the curriculum, supports and works with the facilitators, and continues to weave learning together about the field of systems change. She is the author of Cultivating System Change: A practitioner’s companion which is based on her PhD.

At the core of her work are action inquiries that are based on a living systems perspectives - exploring what it means to live the change at all levels of practice - from how we organise, the power and relationships to paradigm shifting questions about love and the meaning of life.

At the School of System Change

As well as enabling the evolution of the School, Anna supports the curriculum and facilitators. On programmes her contribution ranges from introductions to systems change and the evolving field of practice as well as introducing and supporting the navigation of a wide range of approaches and frameworks.

Specific sessions Anna goes deeper on are: systems change strategy and finding leverage and potential, action inquiry as a systemic practice, facilitation, inner work for systems change, and systemic power in organising for change as well as sharing cases and her experience of designing and delivering systems change initiatives.

"I love exploring and learning across the fields of systems change practices. It excites me to discover different practices and understand how they weave together into a broader tapestry. At the moment I am exploring the role of power in change, as well as different ways of knowing and learning from indigenous knowledge, learning styles and across the global majority and the difficulties of working across the marshlands of these different perspectives and practices."
Anna Birney


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