Using systems thinking to make sense of complexity in the public sector

A talk by Marianne Brierley
Service Design Lead, dxw

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About this talk

Services tend to operate within an ecosystem of other services, which each bring their own set of interactions and dependencies.

When we’re working with public sector organisations and the people they support to develop better services, often one of the first things we need to do is form an understanding of the complex ecosystems we’re working within.

In this session we’ll share how we've been employing systems thinking to help us make sense of, and work with, complexity in the public sector.

Establishing a holistic view of an organisation and its services is important when thinking about the impact of any change. It means we can provide properly integrated solutions, and avoid operating in silos and introducing unintended consequences for people using the service(s). It also enables us to consider how a service might be supported and improved over time.

Drawing on some of our recent projects working in higher education, local government, policy development and service delivery for central government, we'll discuss how to apply different approaches and techniques, and what we’ve learned.

What you'll get from the session

We hope to leave you with some new ideas about how to tackle complex problems in different contexts. We'll cover:

  • how to turn something complex into understandable actionable ideas

  • tips on systems thinking, rich pictures, radar and other mapping techniques

  • using stories to tie things together

We’d love to exchange ideas, experiences and challenges with others working in similar circumstances.

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