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An inquiry into my systems practice for managing systemic change (Part 3)

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An inquiry into my systems practice for managing systemic change (Part 3)


Hello again reader. It is time for another update on my quest to become a systems thinker. This is the third installment of my blog,  An inquiry into my systems practice for managing systemic change. today, I review my studies of part one of the study guide. As you may have read in my previous blogs, this module is concerned with equipping the aspiring systems thinker with the transformative tools and concepts which will give him/her the capabilities to participate effectively in ‘situations of interest’, especially in those circumstances that involve systemic disruption.

Change is inevitable

As a society and an individual, there will always be events that evolve around us for better or for worse. Changes that may impact us at the domestic level–a change of circumstances, for example, being made redundant. Conversely, you may be caught up in as an immigrant in the shifting borders of the European Union, or even recently experienced  a natural disaster such as a major hurricane.  Again, whether the transformation is seen as systemically desirable’ or ‘culturally feasible’ will depending on whose perspective the ‘wicked problem’ is been seen from. The decisions that informs  an employee who has to face being unemployed will be different in scope, compared to the board of directors of  a large company that has hit rock-bottom and is being liquidated.

Be a Reflexive system practitioner

In ‘systems language’ through training, our ‘practice’ visualises challenges as opportunities to learn from, as in a ‘learning system and’ an opportunity to conduct a ‘systematic inquiry’ as a way of managing the change, as well as a form of ‘social learning’ such an exercise will include listening to,and collaborating with all stakeholders. It will require the setting of boundaries around a ‘situation of interest’ which is fundamental to the understanding systemically a complex issue.

Another conceptual tool I have learned  from  Part One of the Study Guide for this module thus far, is to appreciate ‘systemic practice as a ‘relational dynamic’. This is heuristically demonstrated by the P, F,S, M model

P- Practitioner

F- Framework

M- Method

S- Situation

Finally another tool that is taught in TU812, is the use of a ‘learning contract. A table that  identifies  and grades in terms of priority, those skills and capabilities  that one wants to develop on the way to transformation to a systems thinker.

 Refining my Systemic inquiry

As an update to my journey so far of the TU812-Managing Systemic change: inquiry, action and interaction,  I  have successfully submitted and passed, the first of three  tutor-marked-assessments(TMAs).  The first TMA was based on my understanding of Part one of the study guide, titled, ‘Creating the starting conditions for your study,’ which according to my tutor for TU812, Question 1 was concerned with the historical and social settings with which I as a systems practitioner comes to a situation of interest.  Q2 sought to test my understanding of the Frameworks as taught in  TU812 and Question 3  was to learn what Methods I deployed to put these frameworks into effect in a situation of my choosing.

Part two of the study guide is called, ‘A systemic inquiry into systems practice’. Among the learning points are: to teach important  ‘key systems concepts used to manage systemic change; learn the various approaches towards systemic practice, as well as how to engage in designing a systemic inquiry and the ethics and critical learning that goes into creating a learning system.

Ray Ison, the author of Part two of the Study Guide in Activity 2.4 asked students to write our reflections and comments  in our blogs and/or module forum any issues, concepts and claims made by him in Chapter 10 of  his book, Systems  Practice: how to act in a situations of uncertainty and complexity in a climate-change world. 

The main take away thought for me in Chapter 10  is that it is important to note that the (Ison 2017) claims that systemic inquiry is social technology primarily concerned with coming to terms with uncertainty. He states that when the inquiry involves a number of persons, this is regarded as a systemic co-inquiry. He adds that one of the main benefits of a systemic inquiry is that is provides a mechanism or framework that enables the practitioner to place the situation of interest within a a definite frame of reference.

One of the hallmarks of being a systemic thinker is the ability to not only place within a frame or a boundary, but to be reflective about the entire process of engaging with systemic change. (Ison 2017) describes this as ‘reflective learning’ or as he explains, ‘ it is the thinking about thinking, doubting about doubting learning about learning and (hopefully) knowing about knowing’

In section 10.2 Ison delves into ‘ The Opportunity for systemic  inquiry.’ As I mentioned above,  systemic inquiry is a way of managing systemic change characterised by complexity and uncertainty. This type of systemic  inquiry he says is different from  other forms of  inquiry that as he compared to, such as ‘appreciative inquiry, ‘action inquiry’ ‘first, second and third person inquiry , ‘networked systemic inquiry’



Ison R., (2017). [online] Available at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Systems-Practice-How-Climate-Change-World/dp/1849961247 [Accessed 4 Dec. 2017].


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