1st Edition

Tackling Complexity A Systemic Approach for Decision Makers

By Gilbert Probst, Andrea Bassi Copyright 2014

    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 analyses 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 environment. It proposes a technique with which to better understand the 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, analyse 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 sector.

    ForewordPaul Polman, CEO of Unilever; Vice-Chairman (and next Chairman), WBCSDForewordKlaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum 1. Introduction2. Case study: why a systemic approach matters3. Phase 1: Problem identificationCase study 1: Problem identification with systems thinking: the creation of the Ethiopia Commodity ExchangeCase study 2: Representing and analysing dynamic complexity to design effective policies: fossil fuel subsidy reform5. Phase 3: Strategy / Policy assessmentCase study 3 Reducing risks and maximising profits with systemic strategy assessment: Nestlé6. Phase 4: Decision-making and implementationCase study 4 Multi-stakeholder decision-making in relief operations: the Agility CSR programme7. Phase 5: Monitoring and evaluationCase study 5 Monitoring managers’ commitment: Deutsche Bank8. ConclusionsAnnex: Overview of key toolsReferences 


    Probst, Gilbert; Bassi, Andrea