Systemic Thinking for Policy Making

The Potential of Systems Analysis for Addressing Global Policy Challenges in the 21st Century

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We live in a period of profound systemic change, and as in similar periods in the past, there is bound to be considerable instability and uncertainty before the new society and economy take shape. We have to identify actions that will shape change for the better, and help to build resilience to the inevitable shocks inherent in, and generated by, the complex system of systems constituted by the economy, society and the environment. These challenges require updating the way policies are devised and implemented, and developing more realistic tools and techniques to design those policies on the basis of appropriate data. In Systemic Thinking for Policy Making world experts from the OECD and International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) pool their expertise and experience to propose new approaches to analysing the interconnected trends and issues shaping today’s and tomorrow’s world. The authors argue that to tackle planetary emergencies linked to the environment, the economy and socio-political systems, we have to understand their systemic properties, such as tipping points, interconnectedness and resilience. They give the reader a precise introduction to the tools and techniques needed to do so, and offer hope that we can overcome the challenges the world is facing.


Human Capabilities for Systems Leadership: Disseminating Systems Thinking through Education and Training

The need for, and content of, training in systems leadership are summarised. With the functioning of institutions and the formulation and implementation of policies critically depending on the knowledge, skills, and motivations of people at every level, self-innovating education and training in systems thinking will be central to produce a new generation of public- and private‑sector leaders, experts, teachers, and an informed public competent to understand and act on systemic challenges. Competences in systems leadership are also essential for the design of institutions facilitating the development of multidisciplinary teamwork and interdepartmental strategies and programmes. Five dimensions of inclusivity are consistently helpful for structuring the perspectives on challenges to which systems thinking can be applied: impacts, feedbacks, trade-offs, emergences, and stakeholders. Universally relevant training dimensions include systems principles, qualitative and quantitative methods, simple and complex models, and examples. Training instruments vary depending on the audience and duration of the training.


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