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

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2.5 Review

The title of this unit could have been Juggling with complexity: searching for system. This title seemed to capture something essential about the unit. Juggling is a rich metaphor and will be used explicitly in Part 3. But it also carries the idea of a skill that needs to be practised and that might seem incredibly awkward to begin with. You may find this idea helpful as you review your work in Part 1. Juggling is also a skill that, once practised, becomes second nature. This too may be an important idea to carry forward to Part 2 as you begin to work on the search for system.

In working through this section, you have identified some of your initial expectations and I have explained some of what I think you will discover as you work through the unit. It would be appropriate at this point to look at some of the questions I asked you about your expectations again and note ways your expectations have changed.

Spend a total of around 30 minutes on the next three activities.

Activity 6

Looking through your previous notes and my previous questions, identify and record any ways your expectations have changed.

Have any new expectations emerged from your reading of this new section? Do any of your expectations look less realistic now? Do your previous expectations seem more, or less, likely to be met.

Do you have any new ideas about what you would like to get from the unit?

Activity 7

Do you feel able to adopt any of the attitudes I have suggested?

Most people move into and out of the attitudes I described earlier. The difference I am proposing is that you consciously try and adopt them as you improve your capacities as a systems thinker. Do you think these attitudes will be useful to you? Have you adopted them in doing this activity? How successfully? You may like to record some judgement about whether you like the idea of these attitudes. Notice that I referred previously to ‘a willingness to experiment with styles of learning that may not initially feel right or comfortable’. Does this reflect anything you are experiencing at this stage?

Activity 8

How do you understand the focus on your own responses in the activities and in the reading you have done so far?

Notice your intuitive responses as well as your intellectual responses. Are you puzzled? Stimulated? Surprised? Excited? Hoping it will get somewhere? Eager to find out more? Suspending judgement? Frustrated?

Any or all of these responses, even if they are a little difficult to live with, are likely to enable you to make good use of what comes in the rest of this unit.

It may also be you are unused to, or uncomfortable with, the focus on yourself and your own experience in an academic course of study. This need not inhibit your learning, provided you recognise your discomfort. If you stick with it, the unfamiliarity of this type of approach is likely to disappear. The payoff: you can become a person who can think and practice systemically. Without engagement with your self, Systems is likely to remain, for you, a collection of techniques that are never really your own.

It would be unreasonable for me to expect that you would instantly recognise this is an effective way of starting studying Systems.

Make a note of your present understandings and responses.