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Managing Complexity: A Systems Approach
Do you need to change the way you think when faced with a complex situation? This unit...
Do you need to change the way you think when faced with a complex situation? This unit examines how systemic thinking and practice enables you to cope with the connections between things, events and ideas. By taking a broader perspective complexity becomes manageable and it is easier to accept that gaps in knowledge can be acceptable.
At the end of this unit you should be able to:
- reflect on your purposes and expectations in doing this unit;
- record your initial and developing understandings of what the unit is about;
- keep an on-going record of your developing understandings, expectations and experiences;
- use your Learning Journal to record your reflections;
- begin taking responsibility for your own reflections.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Managing complex systems
- 2 Preparing to tackle this unit
- 3 Understanding systems approaches to managing complexity
- 4 Systems practice – unpacking the juggler metaphor
- 5 Being a systems practitioner
- 5.1 The state of ‘Being’
- 5.2 Being aware of the constraints and possibilities of the observer
- 5.3 Appreciating your basis for understanding
- 5.4 Experience – making distinctions based on a tradition and constructing a history
- 5.5 Distinctions about systems practice
- 5.6 Learning and effective action
- 5.7 Being ethical
- 5.8 Reviewing some implications for systems practice
- 6 Engaging with complexity
- Activity answers
- Module team
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Managing Complexity: A Systems Approach
When you meet with a situation you experience as complex you need to think about yourself in relation to the process of formulating a system of interest. Only with this awareness, can you increase your range of purposeful actions in the situation which are ethically defensible. To do so is the hallmark of systemic thinking and practice compared to systematic thinking and practice. The metaphor of the systems practitioner as a juggler of four balls is introduced as a device to explore skill development for effective systems practice – the balls are ‘being’, ‘engaging’, ‘contextualising’ and ‘managing’.
To start, you will be invited to think carefully about yourself in relation to the unit itself – as an introduction to thinking about yourself in relation to any system you devise. This unit introduces the metaphor of the systems practitioner as a juggler of four balls: ‘being’, ‘engaging’, ‘contextualising’ and ‘managing’. This provides a device to explore skill development for effective systems practice.
This unit is from our archive and is an adapted extract from Managing complexity: a systems approach (T306) which is no longer taught by The Open University. If you want to study formally with us, you may wish to explore other courses we offer in.
This is an extract from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Systems (Computer) courses or view the range of currently available OU Systems (Computer) courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Tuesday, 26th July 2011
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements section.
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