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Tackling Complexity

A Systemic Approach for Decision Makers

• A step-by-step approach to using systems thinking to solve complex problems in both the socio-political and business environments

• Drawn from the authors' wealth of experience in high-level decision-making

• More than 100 case studies and real-life examples from all continents and from both the public and private sectors

• With forewords by Klaus Schwab and Paul Polman.

Purchase Tackling Complexity here.


Foreword by Klaus Schwab

Founder and Executive Chairman,World Economic Forum

Tackling Complexity serves as a valuable resource in using systems thinking
for strategy and policy development using the multi-stakeholder
approach. The book focuses on the main challenges at the heart of global
and local development, highlighting key consequences, and proposes
methods and tools to better understand and address complexity in order
to improve effectiveness and increase sustainability.
The greater the complexity of the system, the greater the risk of systemic
breakdown – yet also the greater the opportunities for transformation.
Tackling Complexity demonstrates the foresight and spirit of solidarity
needed to strengthen the opportunities related to organisational learning,
and the transformation towards a more resilient system.

Increased pressure for fast and decisive responses to complex problems
is a challenge for all decision-makers and analysts. This book from Gilbert
Probst and Andrea Bassi provides excellent tools for public policy makers
as well as business leaders and academics, on how to deal with complex
problems. The step-by-step approach followed by examples and case
studies, gives the reader excellent guidance into the author’s method.

Borge Brende, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Norway

In a world of increasing uncertainty and velocity, Tackling Complexity
is making sense of complexity and brings clarity, insight and actionable
ideas. Through a series of tools including systems mapping, stakeholder
analysis, scenarios and decision-making protocols, the authors show
how today’s complex world can be understood and acted upon. It’s a
must-have toolkit for everyone who works in a complex world.

Lynda Gratton, Professor of Management Practice,
London Business School

As global volatility escalates, and organisations and individuals across
sectors become more and more interconnected, leaders will be increasingly
burdened by difficult decisions in complex systems of stakeholders.
Tackling Complexity deftly outlines a practical and systematic approach
for solving these challenging problems.

Dominic Barton, Global Managing Director, McKinsey

Understanding and dealing with complexity is essential when it comes
to modelling business situations and strategizing. Applying the 5 steps
in my strategy processes throughout my career proved most helpful. This
approach allows us to truly recognise the interdependences, include different
stakeholders, understand the impact and timeframe of interactions
and make stronger long-term decisions. The compelling cases, the
structured guide, and systemic perspective lead policy makers and strategists to better decisions.

Dr Peter Fankhauser, COO, Thomas Cook

Simple, linear decision making belongs to the previous century. Economies
and firms are now integrated across the bounds of jurisdiction function
and impact. The pity is that too few decision makers are equipped to
deal with complexity. This phenomenal contribution by Professor Gilbert
Probst and Dr Andrea Bassi places the techniques of complex decision
making within reach of every executive, regardless of whether he/she is
in the public or private sector.

Trevor Manuel, Minister of the National Planning Commission,
South Africa

What bedevils decision makers today is not just the speed of change, the
increasing interconnectedness of decisions or the risk of unintended
consequences. It is all of the above! In this smart, savvy book, Probst and
Bassi offer a practical roadmap for today’s executives to tackle truly complex,
systemic challenges. It is a breath of fresh air and an antidote to the
overly simplistic formulae that account for so much of the management

Professor Rita Gunther McGrath, Columbia Business School

Our world has shrunk. A simple metaphor explains how. When humanity
lives in 193 separate countries, it is no longer like living in 193 separate
boats. Instead, we are all living in 193 separate cabins on the same
boat, but with no captain to take care of it. Hence, this book could not be
more timely. On this new global boat of ours, we need to apply systems
of thinking to save our planet. Global challenges require global solutions.
This book explains how to produce them.

Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy,
NUS and author of The Great Convergence

Systemic changes ... require new forms of leadership from men and
women – and especially women – willing to be the vanguards of change.
For them, Tackling Complexity provides an invaluable route map of what
it takes to drive change and succeed in the VUCA [Volatile, Uncertain,
Complex, Ambiguous] world that is undoubtedly here to stay.

Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever; Vice-Chairman, WBCSD

We are now recognising that the challenges to the public’s health are not
solved by single, simplistic solutions – just as we previously learned that
the world is not flat. This outstanding book offers a toolkit that brings
the insights of systems thinking and analysis to the creation of effective
– whether for global epidemics of obesity or diabetes, or anticipating
the health impacts of climate change.

Linda P. Fried, MD, MPH, Dean, Mailman School of Public Health,
Columbia University

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