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(Gardening) Gardening: A Relational Framework for Complex Thinking About Complex Systems

  • Leo Caves
  • Ana Teixeira de Melo
Chapter

Abstract

For positive outcomes to be achieved in the management of change in complex systems, our modes of thinking need to be congruent with the complexity of the targeted systems. In this chapter, we draw inspiration from the concept of gardening, conceived as a systemic activity of managing relations or the process by which a gardener relates to the relations of a complex system, to develop a relational thinking framework for complex thinking applied to change in complex systems. This framework is based on a relational worldview of interventions, as systemic activities aimed at change in complex systems. We propose a heuristic, in the form of a recursive relational thinking method, which can be used to explore different configurations of relations that represent abstract entities within a modelworld. Further we suggest that these configurations of relations can be the base for a corresponding storyworld, to assist in the narration of change in complex systems. We present this general abstract framework and apply it (recursively) to gardening itself as an example of a domain of change. This exercise illustrates how the proposed relational framework can be used to generate different models of change and supporting narratives, as well as the fitness of different modes of intervention in relation to desired outcomes. The result is, in itself, a basic relational framework or meta-model to guide the planning, evaluation and communication of interventions in complex systems.

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank all the reviewers for their comments, particularly Susan Stepney for her insight and enthusiasm that encouraged us to further develop our ideas. We also thank Giulia Rispoli for the clarity of her critique and useful suggestions.

Ana Teixeira de Melo is supported by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia, Portugal. This work was supported by an individual postdoctoral fellowship awarded by the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia, Portugal (SFRH/BPD/77781/2011), and hosted by the Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra and the Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences of the University of Coimbra.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leo Caves
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ana Teixeira de Melo
    • 3
  1. 1.Independent ResearcherSao Felix da MarinhaPortugal
  2. 2.York Cross-Disciplinary Centre for Systems Analysis, University of YorkYorkUK
  3. 3.Centre for Social StudiesUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal

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