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Managing complexity: A systems approach – introduction
Managing complexity: A systems approach – introduction

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5.5 Experiences that motivated the development of systems methods

I have already introduced various systems methods. Behind all of these methods, there has generally been a champion, a promoter aided by countless co-workers, students, etc. To paraphrase the French sociologist of technology, Bruno Latour: we are never confronted with a systems method, but with a gamut of weaker and stronger associations; thus understanding what a method is, is the same task as understanding who the people are.

A method, like any social technology, depends on many people working with it, developing and refining it, using it, taking it up, recommending it, and above all finding it useful. But not all technologies that succeed are the best – it depends on who builds the better networks, particularly of practitioners. As you experience the use of a particular systems method and strive to make it a methodology, reflect on it critically – judge it against criteria meaningful to you but above all judge it in relation to your practice of it. It will be your experience of using an approach in a situation to which it fits that matters.