A SYSTEMIC VISION OF THE CRISeS
10th congress of the European Union for Systemics (UES2018)
15-16-17/10/2018, Brussels, Belgium
A systems thinking approach of crises: From optimization to change strategy?
Although raised many times on other congresses, the theme of crisis is still not depleted. Indeed, questions related to visible effects of crises emerge in all human activities (economy, politics, culture, education, security, architecture…). A lot of measures urgently correct the visible symptoms of problems without trying to understand the underlying logics linked to them. Yet, crisis is a multidimensional societal phenomenon that cannot be reduced to immediate consequences.
In response to these topical issues, corrective actions can be taken in order to reestablish existing structures. However, answers provided are often (in)efficient and are over the short term. Indeed, these answers do not propose a strategic purpose that could lead to a coherent, long-lasting and sustainable development.
More than ever, a system-based approach of the process through which crisis – in its various forms – emerges is essential in order to act with full awareness of the interdependence of the phenomena under study. The systems thinking approach helps the agent understanding that tackling the crisis phenomenon is not only researching the optimization of the process. The change required is of structural nature.
Even though industrial society was, at first, linked to matter and energy management, a third fundamental resource is becoming more and more important: knowledge. Treatment and diffusion technologies – such as the Internet – tend to even more virtualize our real and make quick, globalized and amplified changes possible. Informational exchanges directly influence knowledge elaboration and exchange.
In a complex situation, the challenge of the agent confronted to crisis and to an informational overload is to acquire a capacity of description and a relevant modeling of the regarded phenomena.
Beyond analytical apprehension of mere causes, the systems thinking approach is an efficient tool in order to model systems, identify complex factors, describe elements and their relationships. It provides the agent the necessary elements to understand the real which will allow him/her to build a contextualized strategic purpose. Then, this strategic purpose will lead to actions which will have structural and long lasting impacts. The current “element in crisis” game and their relationships is thus not simply optimized (first cybernetic), but well replaced by a different game involving uncertainties, taking advantage of information technologies, integrating new knowledge and strategies (second cybernetic). Crises are no longer considered as simple adaptations of pre-crises systems, but as potential sources of emergence of new structures. These are generated by the integration of new knowledge and technologies, the improvement of resources management and the redefinition of a sociopolitical balance.
The objective of the 10th congress of the European Union for Systemics (EUS) is to develop a systemic representation of the processes inherent to crises during interdisciplinary meetings, combined with a trans-disciplinary vision. This systemic representation will provide theoretic, methodological and practical tools applicable to specific cases of systems in crisis. All these resources will help the agent taking relevant actions for the benefit of a society willing to reach a high level of sustainability for future generations.