Tackling Complexity
A Systemic Approach for Decision Makers

Cloth: 978 1 78353 081 6 / $39.95
Published: March 2014  

Publisher: Greenleaf
180 pp., 6 1/8" x 9 1/5"
Our socio-economic systems continue to grow and evolve. We need to acknowledge that, consequently, our decisions often fail--they are ineffective and create unexpected side effects. The speed of execution is increasing constantly and markets and systems respond almost immediately, making decision-making challenging. There is little or no room for failure.

This important new book analyzes real-world strategy and policy challenges, addressing the interconnectedness of the markets/systems we live in. It provides a step-by-step approach using systems thinking to solve complex problems in socio-political as well as business environments. It proposes a technique with which to better understand problems and the context in which they arise, and tools to directly inform each step of the decision-making process. The book explores the main innovation that systemic thinking introduces--the emphasis on defining the problem-creating system, which is made up of interacting parts, rather than prioritizing events that need immediate fixing.

The case studies, examples and the approach proposed can be used to better understand reality and its complexity, and to integrate stakeholders for a better solution. Practically, it can be used to identify problems, analyze their boundaries, design interventions, forecast and measure their expected impacts, implement them and monitor and evaluate their success/failure.

The book touches upon global issues related to policy making and strategic management, as well as issues related to sustainable development for both the public and private sectors. It will be essential reading for practitioners looking to get to grips with systemic thinking in business and policy-making.

Table of Contents:
1. Introduction

2. Case study: why a systemic approach matters

3. Phase 1: Problem identification
Case study 1 Problem identification with systems thinking: the creation of the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange
Case study 2 Representing and analysing dynamic complexity to design effective policies: fossil fuel subsidy reform

5. Phase 3: Strategy / Policy assessment
Case study 3 Reducing risks and maximising profits with systemic strategy assessment: Nestlé

6. Phase 4: Decision-making and implementation
Case study 4 Multi-stakeholder decision-making in relief operations: the Agility CSR programme

7. Phase 5: Monitoring and evaluation
Case study 5 Monitoring managers commitment: Deutsche Bank

8. Conclusions

Annex: Overview of key tools


Huff Post - Jan 2014 Article
CSRWire Series of Posts

Reviews & Endorsements:
"Tackling Complexity serves as a valuable resource in using systems thinking for strategy and policy development using the multi-stakeholder approach. The book focuses on the main challenges at the heart of global and local development, highlighting key consequences, and proposes methods and tools to better understand and address complexity in order to improve effectiveness and increase sustainability.

The greater the complexity of the system, the greater the risk of systemic breakdown yet also the greater the opportunities for transformation. Tackling Complexity demonstrates the foresight and spirit of solidarity needed to strengthen the opportunities related to organisational learning, and the transformation towards a more resilient system."
Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum
- Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum , World Economic Forum
"Tackling Complexity provides an invaluable route map of what it takes to drive change and succeed in the VUCA world - Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous - that is undoubtedly here to stay."
Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever

- Paul Polman, CEO , Unilever
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