Systems Practitioner Course Introduction

Until now our inability to effectively deal with ever-increasing globally complex environments sees our world abound with failed projects and programs. The waste and opportunity cost is staggering at the local, regional, national and global level. In this respect, it is striking how wedded our international community is to linear approaches when dealing with complex issues. Our willingness to repeat the same mistakes and our unwillingness to embrace a more systemic approach was strongly evident until recently.

Fortunately, the world has moved on and today there is growing acceptance that current tools and processes, whilst important, are not sufficient for dealing with complexity. Complex issues – those that exhibit non-linearity, uncertainty, ambiguity, and emergence – those that have multiple stakeholders or may be subject to political influence, require a different approach. Given an assessment of the international community over the past years it appears apparent that systems thinking stands as the single most important contribution we need to embrace and to improve our capacity to better deal with complex issues and as a consequence, help create a better world.

Professor Ockie Bosch and Dr. Nam Nguyen the authors of this course have spent years refining their concepts and applications of systems, moving highly theoretical concepts into practice within specific settings. Through this course, the two professors have put systems thinking into a practical context that will enable anyone to make a difference whether that will be at a local or global level. This course is all about the art of change. It addresses the complex challenges we meet every day. It enables us to draw better maps of the world. It encourages learning not only about the technical world, but more than that about the micro and macro dimensions of political and cultural realities.

We learn about the dynamics that lead to complexity and how to channel them. We learn about the power of context and we learn to reflect on our role in creating a world and our responsibility for the outcome. This book takes us on a learning journey to become the change we want to see in the world. This course is designed to help ‘everyone’ with what is required to deal with complex issues – to start to focus on systems.