The world is faced with numerous complex problems that range in scale and significance from the global to the local level, for example climate change and biodiversity loss, the changing nature of employment due to technological advancement, refugee crises, regional conflict, and land and infrastructure development.
Effective knowledge management can assist in addressing these complex problems, for example by helping to make the “unknowns” that often characterise complex situations known. Indeed, many knowledge managers reading this article will be right now thinking about the Cynefin framework, a highly-regarded decision and analytical framework created by well-known knowledge management thinker Dave Snowden. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Cynefin framework.
Over time, complexity science has expanded beyond just Cynefin, with the challenges of managing complexity attracting the interest of an ever-widening range of researchers and practitioners. One of a number of notable more recent examples is the insightful complexity science research work of the UK-based Overseas Development Institute (ODI), which we’ve been bringing you through the RealKM Magazine series Exploring the science of complexity and Planning and strategy development in the face of complexity. Two further series will be published in the coming months. Most of my work over the past 37 years has also involved working with complexity, and I’ve recently started to share my experiences in this regard through the Case studies in complexity series.
Integration and Implementation Sciences (i2S) at ANU
Another exciting new complexity science research initiative is the establishment of Integration and Implementation Sciences (i2S) at the Australian National University (ANU).
I2S is a new discipline providing concepts and methods for conducting research on complex, real-world problems. It includes a resources repository and the Integration and Implementation Insights blog (i2insights blog). I’ve been following the blog and participating in discussions which I’ve found fascinating, with these interactions proving to be a unique opportunity to exchange thoughts and ideas around complexity with leading academic thinkers and other experienced practitioners. Recent i2insights blog articles relevant to knowledge managers include Accountability and adapting to surprises and How Can We Know Unknown Unknowns?
RealKM has approached the i2S team with a view to beneficial collaboration, and as part of this we’ve started to republish relevant i2insights blog posts and other resources.
Professor Gabriele Bammer is the team leader and originator of Integration and Implementation Sciences (i2S), which she describes in detail in a 2017 paper1 and 2013 book2, both of which are available free online.
Header image: The i2S swirl symbolises the synergies among disparate ways of tackling complex societal and environmental problems. © The Integration and Implementation Sciences (i2S) ‘swirl’ is owned by Integration and Implementation Sciences (Gabriele Bammer).
- Bammer, G. (2017). Should we discipline interdisciplinarity? Palgrave Communications, 3 (article 30). DOI: 10.1057/s41599-017-0039-7 ↩
- Bammer, G. (2013). Disciplining Interdisciplinarity: Integration and Implementation Sciences for Researching Complex Real-World Problems, ANU Press: Canberra, Australia. ↩
Also published on Medium.