Making sense of complex systems: practical principles and frameworks

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Author name: 
Dr Ryan Young
Prof Katherine Daniell
Flynn Shaw
ANU National Security College

It is clear that we are operating today in a world of increasing complexity. What is less clear is how we should understand and analyse this complexity in ways that lead to practical and effective decision-making. Dr Ryan Young, from the NSC Futures Hub, and Prof Katherine Daniell, from the School of Cybernetics, have been tackling exactly this problem. Their work, funded by the Defence Science and Technology Group, has synthesised a wide range of research material to articulate foundational principles that help explain complexity and that can be used to better analyse complex situations for decision making. The key is to bring together diverse insights to build a multi-faceted view of a situation, rather than seeking to analyse it to find a single solution. Importantly, this work both articulates a process for better analysis and identifies principles for effectively bringing people together for the diversity of perspective and insight needed for efficient analysis.

Their final research report, as written for policy makers and DSTG, is now freely available, as is the foundational literature review that covers the analytic process in more detail.

Read the report

Read the literature review

Updated:  26 April 2024/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team