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

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5.9 Developing other systems methods

There are many more methods that are regarded as systems approaches for managing complexity (e.g. Rosenhead, 1989a; Flood and Carson, 1988; Flood and Jackson, 1991; Mingers and Gill, 1997; Francois, 1997; Flood, 1999; Jackson, 2000). The systems practitioners responsible for developing these come from a varied background, but in the main their experiences are similar to those described for Checkland, Beer, Espejo and the T301 team. All wanted to be able either to take action that stakeholders could agree would be an improvement or to pre-empt breakdown or failure. Both aspirations are responses to managing complexity.

A contention we have as a course team, is that an aware systems practitioner is able to braid their theoretical understandings and practical abilities so as to take purposeful action in any domain of perceived complexity. While this does not preclude you from learning or attempting to learn many of the methods and techniques commonly used by systems practitioners, it does mean you do not have to know them all to become a competent and aware practitioner. Our concern is to equip you with a combination of the theoretical and practical skills needed to make sense of, and use, systems methods as you become aware of them. What is more, many methods use similar tools or techniques. This is the case in the methods used in this unit, and we will be drawing this to your attention as you proceed.

Figure 24 provided an overview of the systems traditions from which different systems approaches have been developed. Three other systems methods you should be aware of are described briefly in the rest of this section.