Complex problems, whether organisational, societal or global, often appear not only difficult but intractable, and seem not to have an effective solution. The main reason is that the approach used is often inappropriate.
Complex problems have many aspects and multiple interacting causalities, yet we often focus on a few or even a single cause. We also insist on finding a ‘solution’ when such a solution would only be applicable within a certain set of circumstances and may no longer be relevant when those circumstances change.
Professor Eve Mitleton-Kelly has worked with the sciences of complexity for over 20 years to address practical problems in both the private and public sectors. She has worked with the UN, the European Commission, advised five government administrations and many organisations. In the process she has developed the EMK Complexity Methodology to address these problems.
The EMK Complexity Group ran by Dr Eve Mitleton-Kelly has been working for over 20 years, with organisations in the private and public sectors to address practical complex problems. In the process it has developed a theory of complex social systems and an integrated methodology using both qualitative and quantitative tools and methods.
The EMK approach uses a combined approach based on collaborative action research involving ‘natural experiments’.
Natural experiments are new ways of working and relating being explored by the organisation itself. They are different from the dominant culture and ‘emergent’ in the sense that they are not pre-designed or imposed top-down, but are exploratory and bottom-up.
The methodology uses both conventional practice studies such as case studies, interviews and opinion surveys for evaluation, as well as exploring and developing new methods and tools, such as agent-based models, art and visual facilitation, conceptual architectures, and email exchange mapping (NetMap). It is also exploring how qualitative and quantitative methods complement each other. It is using the logic of complexity to underpin the entire methodology as well as the principles of complexity as an analytic tool.
By taking part in the collaborative action research process, organizational partners should expect benefits to accrue in a continuous stream throughout the life of the project, not just at the end.
The project will provide planetary health practitioners with a new conceptual framework, while testing and refining the theory in practice.
Please see the following article for more details on EMK'S Complexity Methodology: http://emk-complexity.s3.amazonaws.com/projects/ICoSS/approachandmethods.pdf
Each solution depends on the organizational form