Systems Change Masterclass

An online self-paced course to learn how to craft a systems change strategy and implementation plan for your social impact initiatives. 

The course is available in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Czech-Slovak.

About the learning journey

This masterclass builds on insights gained from 40+ years of experience in observing and supporting the most innovative social entrepreneurs across the globe and captures their most powerful strategies to achieve systems change.  

With a focus on scaling impact (versus scaling an organization), this comprehensive course teaches proven powerful tools and essential skills for leading and problem-solving amidst increasing complexity.

It consists of 10 modules to craft your own systems change strategy, and it is applicable in any context whether you have an early-stage idea or an established project.  

The course contains concrete case studies of system-changing social entrepreneurs and showcases how true systems change is the result of scaling social impact and encouraging others to join in and implement change.

Learning objectives: 

  • Gain concrete tools that can be applied to your social impact strategy, as well as knowledge on different systemic interventions that you and your organization can implement to achieve greater, equitable and longer-lasting impact.  
  • Define a clear systems change goal and articulate the milestones you need to reach in order to achieve it. 
  • Practice through worksheets and build your customized systems change strategy deck within a pre-designed template. 
  • Learn tools to engage a broader audience and how to build a network of allies.  
  • Reflect on leadership qualities that are essential for systems change and collaboration. 

Who this is for

This course is open-sourced. Its learnings are applicable to any sector and can be applied no matter what stage you are in.

Whether you are an early-stage or experienced social entrepreneur, working in the private or public sector, leading a non-profit or just starting out this course is open to all changemakers across fields and levels of experience. 

Practical information


  • 10 modules with recorded videos (including theory, exercises and case studies from Ashoka Fellows) 
  • An editable deck to build your systems change strategy as you proceed with the modules 
  • Additional resources including articles, podcasts, books and videos. 


This self-paced course is open-source and always available upon registration. We also offer a facilitated version of this course: find out more


Self-paced learning. We recommend blocking 2 hours per week to complete one module at a time (30-minute video, 30-60min workbook, 20-30min additional resources).  

We also advise finding a peer or team member to go through the course content with as well as scheduling a specific time to share and get feedback on your systems change strategy. This peer-to-peer element will greatly advance your learning and understanding.  


The course is available in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Czech-Slovak.

Module 0 - Introduction to the Masterclass

We share an overview of the course through an introductory video. 


Module 1 - Learn What Systems Change is and Why it Matters

We introduce the key concepts of system change and how they link together in our methodology. We immerse ourselves in systems thinking and establish WHAT systems change is and WHY it matters. 


Module 2 - Analyse Your Systemic Root Causes

We deep dive into the problem analysis and introduce a tool called Problem Tree. We explore the first key steps to develop a systems change strategy and help clarify the big problem that you want to tackle, the key systemic root causes generating it, and the consequences of not solving the problem. 


Module 3 - Find your Targeted Systems Change Goal

We clarify the systems change you and your team would like to achieve by using a tool called the 5R framework. 


Module 4 - Tell the Story of your Systems Change Strategy (part 1)

We build on your targeted systems change and 5R insights to draft a systems change story – essentially the storyline of how your system might evolve along a number of specific plots and milestones.

We identify your end game – the type of story that is best suited for achieving your goal. 


Module 5 - Tell the Story of your Systems Change Strategy (part 2)

We finetune your systems change story and clarify the steps it needs to reach the targeted systems change. We explore how you can deliver and replicate your solution faster, how to partner with a key player like the government, how to reach a large number of people, and how to work on a mindset level.


Module 6 - Rethink Partnerships

We complete the strategy development process. We explore the power of collaborations and understand why engaging and aligning with other stakeholders to drive collaborative action can be a highly effective way to deeply transform systems – and is often also the only way. 


Module 7 - Reflect on Leadership Qualities for Systems Change

We explore the personal side of systemic work and collaboration, deep diving into some of the most powerful leadership qualities and attributes that support leaders to facilitate multi-stakeholder collaborations and their systems change work. 


Module 8 - Explore Funding Options

We address an important topic that you will have to deal with once your strategy is in place: funding, a challenge in the context of systemic work. We look at why funding systemic initiatives is particularly difficult and some potential solutions.


Module 9 - Evaluate Systems Change

We address another common challenge in the context of systemic work: how to evaluate it. We explore how impact measurement in the context of systemic initiatives takes a rather different and actually simpler shape than measuring direct impact. 


Final Assignment - Strategy Deck Template - Fully Designed

By filling out the practical workbook exercises that accompany each module you have a fully customized systems change that can be used to mobilize a broader audience towards your shared vision and build a network of allies that can achieve the targeted systems change goal you identified or refined through this course. 


Support our work

This learning journey is offered free of cost thanks to the generosity of our community. To help us develop new content and make sure it is accessible to more changemakers please donate to Ashoka today! Any contribution is deeply appreciated.

Ashoka Fellow Michael Sani worked with others to create 40x more impact after implementing a systems change strategy as a result of taking this course in person. 

Michael Sani
Ashoka Fellow & Founder of Bite the Ballot
Michael Sani

“The course helped us build a profound understanding about the root causes of the problem and not only work on the symptoms. Taking the time and reflecting is the prerequisite for working on the right issues”

Julia Kleeberger
Cofounder and Managing Director of Junge Tüftler*innen
Julia Kleeberger

-    “I really enjoyed real life cases and examples to demonstrate that dramatic change is feasible, and that it all starts with simple ideas, step by step. It gives me hope and motivation to keep going."

Mauricio Graciano