Embracing complexity in government – a story about gardening and thinking in systems :: Thea Snow :: City of the future :: Participate Melbourne

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Embracing complexity in government – a story about gardening and thinking in systems :: City of the Future 1 :: City of the future :: Participate Melbourne

Embracing complexity in government – a story about gardening and thinking in systems


June 18, 2020

Thea SnowCentre for Public Impact, Australia and New Zealand, a BCG Foundation

Imagine you’re a gardening enthusiast named Andy. You’ve noticed that the lettuce in your veggie patch is being damaged. You investigate and discover that caterpillars appear to be the cause. So, you kill the caterpillars.

Problem solved, right? Wrong.

While killing the caterpillars works in the short-term, it doesn’t work as a long-term solution. This is because the caterpillars are (unbeknownst to you) controlling a population of other insects. As such, killing all of the caterpillars results in a proliferation of other species, meaning that your solution ultimately causes more damage.

Imagine you were a different gardener. Your name is Jamie. You read different books, which taught you to think systemically about gardening. You think about the relationships between different elements of your garden and see your vegetable patch as being part of a broader ecosystem. As a result, you adopt a permaculture approach.

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Embracing complexity in government – a story about gardening and thinking in systems :: City of the Future 1 :: City of the future :: Participate Melbourne