A complexity based diagnostic tool for tackling wicked problems – Emergence: Complexity and Organization – Sharon Zivkovic

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Abstract

Many of societies’ most pressing social policy problems are wicked problems. While complex adaptive systems theory has been recognised as an appropriate way to address this type of problem, complexity-accepting strategies are difficult for public administrations because they are at odds with their current dominant logic. This paper describes the development and implementation of a diagnostic tool for tackling wicked problems that is underpinned by complex systems leadership theories and takes into account the current needs of government. The diagnostic tool was reasoned during a research project that investigated how best to increase the social impact of an active citizenship education program in the City of Onkaparinga, South Australia. The research project identified that while the program developed the active citizenship characteristics desired by the three levels of government in Australia, graduates from the program encountered systemic blocking factors when they attempted to put what they had learned during the program into practice. To increase the program’s impact, the diagnostic tool addresses these systemic blocking factors by focusing on nine leverage areas that enable systemic innovation and change to occur in communities.

Source: A complexity based diagnostic tool for tackling wicked problems – Emergence: Complexity and Organization