Complex adaptive processes
We think it’s useful to posit three worlds - systems, souls and society - within one world, because there are at least three fundamentally different kinds of ‘stuff’ (ontology) that are known to us in different ways (epistemology).
By systems we refer to complex adaptive processes, characterised by the capacity to evolve and the inter-relationship between parts and wholes.
Such a perspective can be grounded in ecological insight and highly inclusive, but is characterised by viewing ‘it’ as the central phenomena, rather than ‘we’ or ‘I’.
Systems theory has considerable explanatory power, but often includes subtle forms of reductionism that can be alienating. Systems thinking also requires an acceptance of unpredictability and loss of control that runs counter to most models of leadership and accountability.
Perspectiva therefore seeks to pay attention to the subjective and inter-subjective elements of systems that cannot be properly appreciated in the same modality (ontology, epistemology and methodology).
"In System Failure I argue that the dominant approach to policymaking is based on mechanistic and reductionist thinking. This is actually more deeply embedded in our culture, particularly the culture of government, than I had appreciated. A conversation with a civil servant, politician or senior public sector manager will yield a large number of phrases based upon the notion that government and organisations are machine-like: ‘stepping up a gear’, ‘changing direction’, ‘driving through change’, ‘the machinery of government’ and ‘policy levers’ are common examples…describing policy and public service issues in terms of ‘delivery’ is another. One can ‘deliver’ a parcel or a pizza, but not health or education."
- Jake Chapman.