About this course
This is a hands-on four chapter course to learn how to better understand and act when faced with complex situations. By the end of the course students will be able to take a story from the news, describe what makes the situation complex and identify opportunities for effective action or change. We will draw on systems theory and complexity theory for our teachings and learn to use proven data collection and modelling techniques from systems thinking and system dynamics.
Who is this course for?
The course is designed for practicing managers, social entrepreneurs, students of business and other social sciences. It is useful to anyone looking for a clear way to understand the complexities of today's world.
What do I need to know?
No prior knowledge is required.
What will I learn in this course?
By the end of the course, you will have acquired the ten skills of a systems thinker. You will know how to identify the variables in interaction in a complex situation, describe and model the systemic structure that explains complex behaviours, anticipate how a situation may change over time and find leverage points to influence outcomes.
Chapter 1: Introducing complexity
We will define complexity and explore how complex situations require changes to the way we apprehend the world.
Chapter 2: Thinking in systems
We will describe and model how different factors, such as people, ideas or things interact over time and generate the complexity in a specific problem situation.
Chapter 3: Mapping the dynamics of complexity
We will learn the role of accumulations and nonlinearities in complex systems and observe how they contribute to both the changes over time and the unexpected and often frustrating behaviours we observe. We will learn to use free online software to simulate complex situations.
Chapter 4: Living with complexity
We will learn a number of tools and techniques that will accelerate our understanding of real world situations and help us to act with impact when faced with complexity. We will also consider the implications of complexity for management, social change and sustainability.
I am a member of faculty at the Toulouse Business School in the department of Information, Operations and Management Sciences. My research and teaching seeks to understand and improve the way we deal with complex situations. How do we comprehend complex situations, make better decisions and find leverage? How do ideas and perspectives form through time? I draw on economic history and systems theory in my research and systems thinking tools in my teaching. I use a range of quantitative, qualitative and historical methods for my research. As a reflective practitioner, I am also interested in the impact of various pedagogical innovations.