Systems diagramming and modelling

Lane, Andrew (2016). Systems diagramming and modelling. In: Bhodya, Shamim ed. Large Scale Systemic Change: Theories, Modelling and Practices. Business Economics in a Rapidly-Changing World. New York: Nova Science Publishers, pp. 243–260.



[About the book]

We face a world of increasing turbulence and uncertainty. As a result, social systems at every level, including countries, government institutions, business organisations, labour and civil societies, have to operate in situations of high causal ambiguity and complexity. This is a world characterised by turmoil, conflict, and seemingly insurmountable social, technological, political and ecological problems. It is a world where cause and effect are not easily separated in space and time, where problem solving approaches relying on knowledge and skills from individual disciplines are incapable of addressing multi-faceted problems and difficulties, and our attempts at problem solving and improvement are short-lived, resulting in transitory change accompanied by more problems and unintended consequences.

It is therefore imperative that academics, executives, professionals, managers and other practitioners be equipped with conceptual tools, methodologies, and practices for working under such conditions. Conventional analytical approaches though useful are insufficient to handle high levels of complexity, mutual and circular causality and inter-dependence. There is a need for more holistic, pluralistic and participatory approaches in order to survive in a highly interconnected, complex, turbulent environment. This calls for a shift in understanding and working with complexity. It requires a trans-disciplinary mindset, a focus on holism as opposed to reductionism, a people-centered value orientation, a blend of analytical skills with synthesis, the rationality of science combined with intuitive understanding and appreciation of the art of being human, and a posture of intellectual humility that promotes collective endeavour in learning, living, relating and working in a complex world.

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