Publication date (electronic): 30 September 2007
Rolling complex rocks up social service hills: A personal commentary
External link: http://220.127.116.11
In this always informal, sometimes tongue-in-cheek paper, the author reports on his work bringing introductory complexity concepts to purveyors of social services. With an ethnographic tone he talks about some of the core problems practitioners try to contend with and how it is that complexity thinking allows them to see those problems in a different and potentially more useful way. The key to this commentary is the phrase “nonlinear dynamic systems,” the three concepts that are illustrated one at a time by examples from the author’s previous work. The serious subtext of the essay is this: The parallels between complexity and social service issues suggest a transformation blocked primarily by the thicket of regulations and hierarchical structures maintained by governments and funders. With political will for change at the top, a variety of new experiments in more effective and efficient social services could be tried.
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