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

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Managing complexity: A systems approach – introduction

1 Overview of the unit

Figure 1
Figure 1 An activity-sequence diagram showing the structure of the unit

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.

Part 1 Starting the course

To start, you will be invited to think carefully about yourself in relation to the course itself – as an introduction to thinking about yourself in relation to any system you devise.

Part 2 Experiencing complexity

Next, presented with a situation you experience as complex, you will be offered powerful systems-thinking tools for devising systems of interest that will support you in making sense of the situation.

Part 3 Understanding systems approaches to managing complexity

You will then be invited to consider your own role in becoming a systems practitioner through the lens of an ideal model and the metaphor of the systems practitioner as juggler.

Part 4 Making sense of your experiences of complexity

At the end of the unit, you are invited to reflect on the sense you have made of systems practice and ‘managing complexity’ together with your own role in making this sense.

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