The Open University since 2006
Alternatively you can skip the navigation by pressing 'Enter'.
Thinking Allowed July 2016: Food bank Britain, Food poverty in EuropeMonday, 25th July 2016 00:15 - BBC Radio 4This episode looks at food poverty in Britain and Europe. Read more: Thinking Allowed July 2016: Food bank Britain, Food poverty in Europe
Discovery: The Truth About Success And Failure In Medicine: Going Lean: Heath and the Toyota WayMonday, 25th July 2016 22:32 - BBC World Service Radio
Exodus: Our Journey To Europe: EPISODE 1Wednesday, 27th July 2016 02:45 - BBC Two
Exodus: Our Journey To Europe: EPISODE 2Thursday, 28th July 2016 00:45 - BBC Two (except Scotland and Northern Ireland)
Discovery: The Truth About Success And Failure In Medicine: Going Lean: Heath and the Toyota WayAvailable until Tuesday, 25th July 2017 00:00What is lean healthcare? Kevin Fong explores Read more: Discovery: The Truth About Success And Failure In Medicine: Going Lean: Heath and the Toyota Way
Thinking Allowed July 2016: Food bank Britain, Food poverty in EuropeAvailable for over a year
Full Steam Ahead: Episode oneAvailable until Monday, 22nd August 2016 17:30
Exodus: Our Journey To Europe: EPISODE 3Available until Friday, 19th August 2016 01:15
Will Brexit reduce the UK's soft power in EuropeWithout a seat at the EU table, will the UK's ability to shape Europe vanish completely? ... Read more: Will Brexit reduce the UK's soft power in Europe
Full Steam AheadIt’s Full Steam Ahead for historians Ruth Goodman, Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn as they bring... Read more: Full Steam Ahead
Employment relations and employee engagementThis free course, Employment relations and employee engagement, looks at raising levels of... Try: Employment relations and employee engagement now
Introduction to cyber securityThis free course, Introduction to cyber security, will help you to understand online security and... Try: Introduction to cyber security now
Do you need to change the way you think when faced with a complex situation? Managing Complexity: A Systems Approach, is a free course that 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.
After studying this course, you should be able to:
- reflect on personal purposes and expectations of doing this course
- record personal initial and developing understandings of what the course is about
- keep an on-going record of these developing understandings, expectations and experiences
- use a Learning Journal to record any reflections
- take responsibility for these 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
- Keep on learning
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn, track your progress and on completion gain a statement of participation to demonstrate your learning to others. Make your learning visible!
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 OpenLearn course provides a sample of level 3 study in
This free course includes adapted extracts 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: Thursday, 17th March 2016
Last updated on: Thursday, 17th March 2016
- 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 and our FAQs section.
- This site has Copy Reuse Tracking enabled - see our FAQs for more information.
If you enjoyed this, why not follow a feed to find out when we have new things like it? Choose an RSS feed from the list below. (Don't know what to do with RSS feeds?)
Remember, you can also make your own, personal feed by combining tags from around OpenLearn.
All our alternative formats are free for you to download, for more information about the different formats we offer please see our FAQs. The most frequently used are Word (for accessibility), PDF (for print) and ePub and Kindle to download to eReaders*.
- Word (2.4 MB)
- PDF (5 MB)
- ePub 3.0 (2.1 MB)
- ePub 2.0 (2.1 MB)
- Kindle (955 KB)
- RSS (483 KB)
- HTML (1.4 MB)
- SCORM (1.4 MB)
- OUXML Package (65 KB)
- OUXML File (205 KB)
- IMS Common cartridge
*Please note you will need an ePub and Mobi reader for these formats.