Joined-Up Thinking Requires Joined-Up Practice

Paula Downey

It’s not hard to recognise that the world and its problems and opportunities are a complex system and that linear thinking and mechanical metaphors are not good ways of understanding and responding to that complexity. It’s also not hard to ignore that recognition and carry on as if connections were simple and systems comprehensible (though as the previous post argued, storytelling is a powerful tool to help us through that).

This post powerfully argues that joined-up thinking can never be enough, unless it leads to and is informed by joined-up doing:

If we want to change whole systems we’ve got to think and work as whole systems. Nobody can think non-linearly. None of us is that clever. The only way to think in a systemic way is together. Joined-up-thinking requires joined-up-practice. This is the meta-shift of our time, one that requires a new mind set and skill set: learning to think like a system by working as a system.

That of course poses an enormous challenge to the people, structures and processes of public policy making. This is not how problems are framed, still less is it how they are normally addressed. Changing the system of system changing without having already done it is not going to be easy.

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