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

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Free course

Managing complexity: A systems approach – introduction

Learning outcomes

At the end of this free course you should be able to:

  • reflect on your purposes and expectations in doing this unit;

  • record in your Learning Journal your initial and developing understandings of what the course is about;

  • use your Learning Journal as 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;

  • use reflection to understand some of your own preferred styles of working;

  • draw a rich picture of a complex situation, review it, identify traps you have set for yourself within it, locate yourself and draw yourself in it;

  • identify any stakes you have in a complex situation and any traps these stakes might set for the systems practitioner;

  • identify some systems-with-purpose in a complex situation;

  • draw a systems map, review it, and use it to prompt further questions;

  • identify the main objectives in drawing a diagram and the outcomes of systems maps, multiple-cause diagrams, rich pictures and control-model diagrams;

  • identify defects in systems maps and multiple-cause diagrams;

  • draw an influence diagram;

  • draw a multiple-cause diagram;

  • evaluate your diagramming skills;

  • use a sign graph to explore the relationships between variables in the case study;

  • draw and use a control-model diagram as a diagnostic tool

  • develop your awareness of your own practices and their measures of performance;

  • begin to use metaphors as a means of exploring your own systems practice;

  • develop, and take responsibility for, your own understanding of complexity;

  • distinguish between messes and difficulties and explain the implications of treating complex situations as being either one or the other

  • discuss complexity in the context of messes and difficulties;

  • list the properties of an observed system;

  • understand some of the implications of recognising the role of the observer and their own tradition;

  • appreciate some ethical implications of being a systems practitioner;

  • distinguish between systematic approaches and systemic approaches;

  • identify examples of formulating a system of interest;

  • appreciate the experiences that gave rise to the development of soft systems methodology;

  • discuss the way a systems practitioner manages the engagement with complexity;

  • discuss the importance of being aware for a systems practitioner and the implications of not being aware;

  • discuss the importance of contextualising systems approaches;

  • distinguish between purposiveness and purposefulness;

  • distinguish between a tool, a technique, a method, and a methodology, in a given context; and recognise the importance of the context in making this distinction;

  • recognise the four distinguishing features of a systems practitioner engaging in practice and the implications of not maintaining each of these four features;

  • make connections with the history of lineages of systems thinking and practice.


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