Wayfinder

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Wayfinder is about transforming development practice. It represents a new generation of resilience assessment that focuses on the challenge of transformations towards sustainability in the 21st century.

In an era of rapid change and increasing complexity, Wayfinder draws on resilience thinking, complexity and social-ecological systems approaches to help its users assess the situation, strategically plan, and act for sustainable development.

Wayfinder is a practical guide to design, facilitate and lead collaborative change processes in social-ecological systems. It is available on an interactive and dynamic web platform. This platform will function as both a guide and a knowledge resource that will drive learning and advance resilience practice.

Who is it for?

Wayfinder is free and open for all to use, but it has been designed specifically for development practitioners, planners, managers and other change makers who are concerned with a sustainable development challenge, and want to facilitate change at local to global levels. It is a generic approach that can be tailored to a wide range of contexts, allowing it to be used all over the world, in various types of social-ecological systems.

How will Wayfinder help you?

  • Wayfinder will build an effective coalition for change – a strategic team of people with legitimacy to lead the change process, and with the systems knowledge required to do so
  • Wayfinder will create a well-informed model of social-ecological systems dynamics – a model that summarizes social-ecological dilemmas at the root of the sustainable development challenge
  • Wayfinder will develop a plausible change narrative – a set of innovative and robust strategies for achieving change. These strategies spell out systemic levers that target the root causes of the sustainable development challenge, and address the agency and enabling conditions needed to make change happen

Using the guide

Wayfinder involves a combination of desktop and analytical work with fieldwork to engage a range of different stakeholders in different ways. It draws on many different types of data, information, knowledge and requires both iteration and reflection.

At the core of the Wayfinder process is the understanding that to make change happen, the quality of the process is of equal importance as the quality of the data, information, and knowledge elicited through the process. Wayfinder is therefore set up in a way that enables a balance between the quality of the process and the content that leads to a heightened capacity for change.

How does Wayfinder work?

Wayfinder is organized into five iterative phases that are accompanied by a set of annotated tools, methods, examples and additional resources to help the user. Each phase guides the users through a number of operational steps that are embedded in a learning framework with continuous evaluation, reflection and sense-making.

Phase 1 (Building a coalition for change) Getting started. Assembling a team to drive the process, agreeing on a process and principles for engagement with different stakeholder groups. Activities involve building capacity for systems thinking and tailoring the process to local conditions.

Phase 2 (Focusing in on system identity) Framing the process. Describing aspirations and social-ecological system dilemmas, key social and ecological components and relevant scales of analysis and action.

Phase 3 (Exploring system dynamics) Assessing the system. Creating a model of social-ecological system dynamics, analyzing cross-scale interactions, feedbacks, traps, thresholds and plausible futures.

Phase 4 (Designing innovative strategies for change) Planning for the future. Making a strategic plan, in the form of a plausible change narrative, by analyzing systemic leverage points, agency to influence those points and opportunities for making change happen.

Phase 5 (Learning your way forward) Moving into action. Using a reflexive ‘learning-by-doing’ approach to test your strategic plan in reality, and gradually refining your systems model and change narrative.

Download the Wayfinder folder (PDF)