What you will study
This module is based on the assumption that everyone is engaged in some form of practice – whether as a professional, a manager, a parent or a student. Through the module you will appreciate how your own understanding and practice can influence change. You will need to think about your own perspective and be able to make explicit your assumptions. The module begins by exploring the nature of change and systems practice and why there is a need to manage systemic change. It goes on to address a simple but profound question: what is it that you do when you do what you do? It then considers the implications of practice in a networked or interconnected world, where groups, teams, organisations and even nations will have to be smarter in their ways of working together.
Some claim that we now live in a world of short-term projects with pre-specified goals that can no longer deal with the complexity and uncertainty we have to manage. You will be introduced to ‘systemic inquiry’, which is an alternative way to organise programmes and projects, so as to be better able to manage the complexity and uncertainty associated with living in a world where complex and uncertain issues like adapting to climate-change and sustainability are increasingly important.
The world of the future will require more skills and understanding of flexible and adaptive managing – we will have to place more emphasis on learning as we go and making sure the learning changes our practice and organisations. A promising way to do this is with systemic inquiry. The module will make it possible for you to start to organise and manage this type of practice – a form of research (with a small ‘r’) that is accessible to all people.
More effective collaborative working will be a demand placed on more and more people. This will make new demands on meetings, teams, projects, committees, as well as interagency and cross-professional and cross-cultural groups. This module will consider the theory and practice of ‘social learning systems and communities of practice’ in order to develop your understanding of how different groups might work together better using systems thinking in practice. You will be able to critically evaluate your own processes, structures and experiences in your working groups, communities of practice and networks and consider possible alternatives for the future.
Through developing an understanding of social learning systems and communities of practice you will aim to develop your own capacities for working with others in a practical way to bring about systemic change. Social learning and communities of practice are also at the forefront in managing. This material will be particularly useful to those who have encountered organisational structures that unhelpfully separate interconnected issues of change (managing them in ‘silos’), or those who need to develop skills to work with multiple organisations.
In summary, the module aims to help you to engage with and improve complex situations that involve change in all areas of work; evaluate your own social structures and experiences of working groups, communities of practice and networks; and consider possible future alternatives.