Many promising research and development initiatives were unable to provide sustainable solutions to global challenges, which have led to the rupture of various other challenges. Policy makers, managers and leaders in organizations, governments and business institutions are under cumulative pressure to make the right management decisions in the face of unstable, dynamic and global complexity and different socio-economic landscapes.There are a multitude of difficult, long-term global challenges ahead, almost all of which are coupled with the most pressing concerns of different countries at the national and local levels. Despite many efforts to deal with these complex issues facing our society the solutions so far have seldom been long lasting, because ‘treating the symptoms’ and ‘quick fixes’, using traditional linear thinking, are the easiest way out, but do not deliver the solutions.This paper describes the processes for unraveling complexity through participatory systems analysis and the interpretation of systems structures to identify leverage points for systemic interventions. It further demonstrates the promotion of effective change and the enhancement of cross-sectoral communication and collaborative learning. This learning focuses on finding solutions to complex issues by applying an iterative systems-based approach, namely with the Evolutionary Learning Laboratory (ELLab).An example of the ELLab application in a city governance context is described in detail, followed by reference to various other ELLab applications in a number of different contexts.