Resource Focused Therapy (The Systemic Thinking and Practice Series)

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So why don't I swap my turn at fundraising with another parent's turn at doorkeeping? In other words, I can gain a new perspective simply by considering my own values and beliefs more carefully. The second way of getting a different perspective is to make a serious effort to see the system through the eyes of others. Box 1 describes one way of doing that, through the technique of role playing.

A top City stockbroker took part in a business game in which he had to play the role of a shop steward. In view of his opinions of shop stewards, he felt this would be very difficult. They would laugh at me. The most impressive demonstration of the power of the technique came at the end of the game. When it finished he discovered that although he had won similar wage rates to other shop stewards in the game, the company which employed his workers had made far higher profits. As he has spent his professional life finding out information of exactly this kind before any negotiation, he was deeply shocked at his failure.

But, again, he wasn't really himself when he overlooked the importance of this information; he was adopting someone else's role. The third way in which we can gain new and different perspectives of a system is to look for the unintended consequences of its operation. The way to do this is to look at what the system actually does, then to assume that is its purpose , then to describe the system as one to achieve that purpose i.

For example I could describe a meeting of six people in a small room as a heat production system. The meeting wasn't held in order to produce heat, but that is one of the things it actually did, so I take that to be its purpose and describe the system accordingly. To re-perceive the meeting in this way might yield good ideas about how to heat and ventilate the room more effectively.

But there is a deeper rationale for this search for unintended consequences of systems than simply generating some new and possibly useful ideas. Very many of the systems designed or managed by human beings have unintended consequences or by-products: when code is changed in a computer program the system as a whole often behaves in ways not predicted by the designers.

To take another example, a good deal of legislation ends up having contrary effects to those intended by governments. The same is true of our interventions into natural systems. It is a common mistake to brush aside these side effects as little local difficulties. When systems have been working for some time, it may well be the case that what they do was not intended by anyone — for a host of reasons they've just evolved, and you will persistently misunderstand them if you think they are still achieving what they were designed to do.

Quite a few organisations have clerical systems in which many copies of many documents are faithfully made and filed, never to be looked at again. Before simply abolishing this practice it would be as well to look at its unintended consequence: does filing the documents make people more careful, and hence avoid costly mistakes? Does the employment of the filing clerks provide a crucial pool of labour at particularly busy times?

Differences of perspective and worldview can both give rise to differences of opinion. Both concepts can be useful in understanding and working with differences of opinion, so it is valuable to understand the distinction between them. The metaphor used for each is a useful guide to their difference in meaning. Perspective refers to how things look from your current position. Worldview refers to how you see the world, regardless of your current position.

If swapping circumstances would not change your view, then the difference is more likely to be one of worldview. In general it is possible to gain additional perspectives by imagining yourself into other circumstances. Your own worldview is harder to set aside, precisely because it is about your most fundamental assumptions. There are many different ways of thinking. Logic alone is inadequate to deal with complex situations because it deals with simple, timeless cause and effect links between statements.

Causal thinking underlies much of science where the tendency is to look at simple cause and effects by isolating components or parts of a whole. Systems thinking tries to look at the complicated pattern of multiple causes that make up a whole, and to simplify by taking multiple partial views or perspectives. Reductionist and holistic thinking can be complementary. You should now further your understanding of the main concepts covered in this section by tackling the SAQs below.

Sally and Jim spent hours with holiday brochures each year; the problem was finding the right summer holiday for themselves and their three teenage daughters. Partly it was a problem of timing. In the summer, all three daughters had different activities, one was in an orchestra, one rode horses and one spent a couple of weeks with her grandparents. It was also a question of money. If all three daughters came they couldn't afford as expensive a holiday as if only one came, and there was the added complication that two of the daughters might bring boyfriends, and what they could afford had to be considered.

Finally, it was never easy to find a place they all wanted to go to. Much to Sally and Jim's regret, they hadn't had a family holiday together for three years. Helen was the director of a small charity for which she needed to raise money each year. It was always an effort. It took a long time filling in grant application forms which always needed a lot of detail about past achievements and future plans. It was also difficult to dovetail the end of one grant with the start of another, especially as the funders made decisions at different times of the year.

Although she had managed the juggling trick, as she called it, for the past five years, she was becoming increasingly frustrated at the amount of time it took. David and Penny were genuinely fond of David's widowed mother, who had helped them a lot in the early years of their marriage, and were glad when she came to stay; it gave them the opportunity to repay her generosity. They took her out to dinner, to the theatre and to visit gardens, and invited old friends of hers to join them.

However, in spite of this, the visits always ended with a strained and difficult atmosphere between them all, and the gaps between visits was growing noticeably longer. David and Penny decided that they would make more of an effort the next time she came, and organise a party for her.

No clear-cut answer here but numbers 1 and 3 certainly look like traps. In both cases the people concerned care a good deal about the issue, they keep on trying to get what they want, but it doesn't seem to work. Sally and Jim are defining their problem in a way that makes it impossible to solve. David and Penny are trying to solve their problem by doing more of the same — ignoring the fact that what they are already doing may well be the source of the problem. Number 2 doesn't look like a trap; at least not yet. Although Helen is getting frustrated, what she is doing works well.

If she never managed to decide that her real abilities were in campaigning, for example, but she never managed to find time to do that, then she might be in a trap. False — without the word 'separately' the statement would be true. Certainly, holistic thinking can look separately at different aspects of a problem, but it doesn't stop there. It always seeks to put them together and to see the interconnections between things. Sophie Hunting desperately wanted to pass her driving test. She lived in the country and there was no bus service which would take her into the local town in the evening and get her back after a film or a party.

But she wasn't learning fast. When she had lessons with her father, most of the time was taken up with lectures on how the car worked. If she kangarooed forwards, he would explain the clutch mechanism and the principle of gearing. When she went out with her mother and stalled at junctions her mother said it was peculiar because her elder brother was less well co-ordinated than Sophie and he had learned easily, so Sophie ought to be able to do it. In some despair, Sophie phoned her brother for advice. He pointed out that their mother, who had always been very protective about Sophie, was probably reluctant to see Sophie going to town alone in the car at night.

As for their father, he had always been protective about his car, and was bound to be nervous that Sophie would scrape or bump it when she was learning. He pointed out too that Sophie had never taken kindly to being told what to do by her parents. He suggested that she ask a friend to teach her, in the friend's car, and spend some time reassuring her mother that in the evenings she would only go to town with a friend. Sophie's father is using casual thinking, her mother's logical thinking and her brother's holistic thinking; her bother is taking multiple partial views of the situation as a whole.

One is by reconsidering our own perspective, another is by adopting the perspective of another person and the third is by looking for the unintended consequences of the system's operation. A voluntary organisation used to hold an annual meeting for all of its workers to keep them informed of what it was doing. It noticed that most of the staff who worked at head office turned up, but very few of the local representatives who organised events in the regions and distributed information to members. Concerned about this, the Management Committee decided to hold a one-day meeting especially for the local representatives, and set up an ad hoc group to plan the day.

It had a lively debate. The Chairperson of the ad hoc group started the meeting by suggesting that they should draw up an agenda for the day focused on local issues. This raised a storm of objections. Some people said that what was needed was a speech from the Chairman and reports on future plans from senior staff. Others felt that any agenda would be a strait-jacket and would prevent local representatives talking to head office staff about what was important to them.

There followed a debate about the state of communications with local reps, which somehow got diverted into whether or not they should pay for their own lunches. Some argued that the free lunch was a way of showing the reps that their work was appreciated, and that was the real point of the day. Others thought funds shouldn't be spent on free lunches, and insisted that the real point was to integrate the reps more closely by telling them about future plans; in the past they had been the last to hear of changes of policy and direction.

This prompted a more radical idea. In the morning, any rep who wanted to could write a topic on a piece of paper, stick it on the wall, and wait to see if others wanted to discuss it. If they did, a group would gather and discuss it: if not that rep would simply join another group. The three or four topics which had attracted most interest in the morning would be debated fully with head office staff in the afternoon.

This idea gained a lot of support, but was just defeated in a vote. In another vote, it was decided, again by a small majority, that the meeting would have a formal agenda of speeches by head office staff. News that the more radical idea for the day had been defeated leaked out to the local reps who took this as confirmation that head office wasn't interested in what they had to say. Hence, most of them refused the invitation to attend the day, and it was cancelled.

There are, at least the following aspects — some of which may overlap. You may well have expressed them differently; that doesn't matter as log as you are able to recognise a multiplicity of perspectives:. That there should be a formal agenda of speeches and reports — designed to integrate the reps more closely in the organisation. That there should be no agenda for the day — its purpose was for head office staff to listen to the reps.

That the agenda should be drawn up by the reps themselves — by the radical procedure in the morning. That the head office didn't care about the reps — the unintended consequence of the meeting to design the day. You can think about anything holistically. But when you apply holistic thinking to systems, you find that some ideas and techniques are particularly useful; these ideas and techniques constitute systems thinking. In other words, systems thinking is a specialised branch of holistic thinking.

This section describes the main ideas and techniques of systems thinking. First, don't be surprised that some of the examples and exercises that follow are not specifically about systems. As I said, holistic thinking isn't confined to systems, and sometimes it is easier to grasp the ideas and techniques in other contexts first. Second, most people have an innate ability to think systemically, but, in spite of this, it can be quite difficult to do at first.

It is worth persevering though because systems provides helpful ways of thinking about complex situations. Third, many people think that what I call systems or systemic thinking is systematic thinking.

So systematic thinking deals with orderly, methodical thinking and systemic thinking with the behaviour of wholes. Systematic thinking is more reductionist, since it reduces the overall activity to a set of discrete parts that only recognise the importance of the previous and next steps. If you iterate back to an earlier step or follow a different set of steps in response to external influences you are starting to become more holistic. Thus we can carry out a mixture of reductionist and holistic activities, and you can take a systematic approach to systems thinking, but they are not the same.

One of the difficulties facing newcomers to systems ideas is the notion that thinking about a topic or situation in a different way actually makes a difference. When confronted with a complex situation most people want to do something to solve it or change it; it is not part of everyday culture that simply thinking in a different way will help the situation.

One of the reasons why many people find difficulty with this idea is that the reductionist way of thinking has come to dominate our culture. This is a very powerful way of tackling problems, as witnessed by the successes of industrial technology in the realms of increasing levels of material production, well-being and comfort. So successful has this way of thinking become that there is a widespread, though often unrecognised, assumption that this is the best way to think about everything.

Consequently reductionist methods are used in just about every academic discipline and in all aspects of life. Although the reductionist way of thinking is a powerful one, it is, nevertheless, limited. There are situations in which the reductionist approach doesn't work. Reductionist methods cannot help to cope with problems that arise as a result of the complexity and interconnectedness between components in a system. Under these circumstances, any severing of the connections in order to make the situation simpler actually changes the situation.

It's not too bad when one knows that the situation is caused by connectedness, but in many situations one isn't even sure of this, and one is certainly not sure which connections are significant and which are not. In these circumstances it is necessary to take the situation as a whole, and approaches which do this are termed holistic.

One of the strongest characteristics of systems thinking is that it is holistic. Thinking holistically does not mean that one cannot do anything to simplify the issue at hand. Owing to our inability to think of many things simultaneously, it is essential to simplify complex situations in some way like using multiple partial views in Section 3. A holistic approach emphasises that the simplification should be accomplished in a way that does not overlook the significant connectedness. There are two conclusions that follow directly from this. In general, we should expect to need several attempts at approaching the situation before gaining the confidence that we have identified the important features.

This is in contrast to the reductionist approach, which usually presumes that there is one, and only one, right approach and right answer until proven otherwise. The holistic thinker will welcome techniques that generate many approaches, whereas the reductionist thinker will be looking for criteria for reducing the approaches to just one.

In order to simplify the situation without reducing the connectedness it will normally be necessary to reduce the level of detail in the representation. This will usually involve regarding the situation in a more abstract fashion. One way of representing complex issues more simply is by the use of diagrams. The use of diagrams to represent situations is an important theme of systems work, as connectedness can be simply represented and understood. Text, like this, is essentially linear and emphasises just one order of connection.

One of the central devices used in facilitating a holistic approach to problems is the representation of an issue or situation as system. Perceiving an issue as a system entails somehow representing the issue in such a way as to capture the essential connectedness of the issue. This requires the identification of boundary that separates the system from its environment and a method or device for representing the system such as a diagram.

At an abstract level a surprising number of systems seem to work in the same way. Most of us have experienced vicious circles of one sort or another. For example, if I have an unproductive day, I tend to work late into the night to try and make up lost time. The next day, I'm tired out and even less productive. Another example is shown in Figure 10 b Vicious circle. This variety is useful, indeed usually necessary, where our conventional or established way of thinking about the issue has not led to a satisfactory outcome. The point of looking at something as if it were a system is to generate a new, yet adequately rich, representation of the issue so as to make it easy to think about in a new way.

With practice, most people start to get the knack of being able to identify quickly two or three representations that all generate insights and new learning as set out in the learning cycle shown in Figure 1 and an example of a virtuous circle , while beginners take longer and are pleased if they can get more than one. The time when we all get stuck is when our usual ways of thinking about the issue totally let us down, when everything we try seems to make the situation worse, when every attempt to reduce conflict seems to increase misunderstandings, and so on.

The systems approach to complex situations can also help in less extreme situations; indeed, if consistently used it would enable one to avoid getting into most extreme positions, because maintaining a flexible view of a situation allows one to anticipate and forestall unpleasant surprises sooner than someone who holds a fixed view. Systems thinking is useful for investigating complex situations.

It involves a holistic approach that looks at the behaviour of wholes, and the many interconnections between the components, using a variety of methods. Some of these methods are systematic and orderly but in general systematic thinking is more prevalent in reductionist thinking where situations are broken down into parts and mostly simple, linear cause and effect relationships examined.

What are the main characteristics of systems thinking and why are they held to be of positive benefit? Changing one's perspective on an issue or problem. This leads to changes in attitude and approach which make it easier to identify the social components required to 'solve' complex situations.


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Holistic thinking. This avoids losing the issues which are intimately associated with the connections of the situation. Simplifying by making more abstract. Some simplification is essential to make a problem tractable, but the simplification must not reduce the connectedness. By becoming more abstract the connectedness is maintained and the problem simplified. Using standard systems and diagrams. These are 'tools of the trade', rather than 'characteristics of systems thinking'.

They allow the other characteristics to be realised. Illegal drug use and its associated criminality is a vexing problem for European governments. Plant-derived drugs, grown by peasant farmers in less-developed countries and processed, shipped and distributed by organised crime syndicates, are a major part of the problem. Chemically-derived drugs, produced in illegal laboratories all over Europe have lately been gaining ground. Some drugs are addictive or dangerous or both. Most are expensive, tempting users into petty crime to raise money for their purchases. A number of solutions have been proposed to alleviate the problem.

Without attempting to evaluate their acceptability or practicability, identify which ideas arise from a reductionist, closely focused, approach to the issue and which from a broader holistic approach. Increase police powers to stop and search so that suspected drug users can be identified more easily. Legalise all drugs to eliminate the criminality associated with the drug production and distribution.

Drug crops are an entry point to the 'drugs system'. Eliminating all the drugs crops would at least eliminate the plant-based drugs problems. Although superficially related to 2 above, this solution tackles only part of the problem and so allows the system to adapt.

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Traffickers could increase payments to farmers, use intimidation or grow their own supplies. This might well eliminate the criminality part of the problem although legal producers may well exploit cusomers' need by charging high prices. It does nothing to address the personally harmful effects of drug use. This addresses only a very small part of the problem.

Not all users are in need of help. Many enjoy taking drugs and would continue to do so. Like 4 above, it would eliminate organised criminality and the petty crime needed to support expensive drug use. This could prevent the entry of plant-based drugs into Europe although it might divert the market to other places. Whether it could be implemented rigorously enough is another matter. Everyone is involved with things called systems — information systems, financial systems, ecological systems, computer systems, education systems; and to this list I can add many things which are often called systems by professionals in a particular field.

For example, doctors talk of the nervous system in the body, therapists of the family system to which each of us belongs, engineers of fail-safe systems in a car or power station. In general, all these systems seem complicated and often behave in unpredictable ways. Many firms, to take one instance, have introduced computerised information systems and found that the information particular people need is so buried in the piles of computer printout that it takes longer to find the relevant information than it did when it was kept in shoe boxes. Or, another common experience, the system has changed people's jobs in unexpected and unintended ways leading to industrial difficulties and then to an awkward restructuring of the firm.

What systems do you come across in your life? Write down three or four examples under the two headings below. Work based — internal telephone system, budgeting system, departmental planning system, accommodation allocation system;. Personal — central heating system, personal computer system, holiday planning system, personal transport system. At first sight, a computer system and the body's respiratory system don't seem to have much in common, nor do the world financial system and an ecological system.

On the other hand, each of them is called a system, so they must have something in common. When I am not sure what something means I find it helpful to look for opposites: so what isn't a system? Just looking around I can see a brick, a book, a shelf, a packet of mints and a ticket for a concert. None of them seems to be a system. But the shelf with books on and the brick to stop them falling off the edge does look like a system, and I suppose the ticket could be thought of as part of a system of organising concerts.

One difference seems to be something to do with connections. The shelves, the brackets holding them up, the screws holding the brackets up, the books and the brick are all connected: but not simply physically connected. I wouldn't describe the same set of things lying on the floor together, before I put the shelves up, as a system.

A second difference is that once they are up they have been put together for purpose. The connections between them have been planned and organised. The activities which have to happen to put on the particular concert — the hiring of the hall, the rehearsals, the ticket selling — are connected too. Although the connections are not of the same kind as those between the screws and brackets, they have been put together for a purpose; it makes sense to talk of a system for putting on the concert. So my first attempt at a definition is that a system is set of things interconnected for a purpose.

This is not something that can be generalised and although the number generally is assumed around Brown there is no steadfast rule or criteria for sufficient numbers. Some argue that a purposeful sample is exhausted when no new material emerges Glaser and Strauss However there are other constraints with the accessibility of the sample and the time required to analyse qualitative data.

It also depends on what others methods are being used to supplement qualitative interviews and the type of research question being addressed. In one approach mixed methods are increasingly being used in a qualitative context to triangulate different perspectives and overcome methodological bias of research findings Tashakkori and Teddlie The advantages of doing qualitative work are it gives accounts of experience and understanding by permitting flexibility and allowing the process to evolve by decreasing the distance between researchers and subject Brown It generates richer data that enables insights to be gained from small numbers and is a more interesting account that is more reliable because of its reflexivity Brown , p.

In open systems or non experimental situations, qualitative methods are a valid means for establishing some plausibility in understanding. Often methods of triangulation are used to provide validity to findings where different perspectives converge on the same interpretation Hammersley and Atkinson ; Blaikie However triangulation can also be used to provide different view points of the same apparent phenomena to reveal underlying assumptions and dominant constructions of an issue Seale This kind of analysis can be useful for where a problem, as it has been defined, defies solution such as the intractable nature of climate change or resource management conflicts.

Some of the views expressed are shown as boxed quotes throughout this report to situate executive perspectives within these findings. Furthermore two workshops were held with the project initiation team comprising key staff from the DPI, Monash University researchers and other systems practitioners demonstrating how systems thinking techniques could support an inquiry into CCA research. In order to view research as a learning process those facilitating the workshop noted the need to build the idea of learning in a common context and understand what formal mechanisms are required to contribute to learning in a public policy context.

The workshop presented a model of a viable learning system as not bounded by relationships but opened by them such that feedback readily flows between and is reflected upon as part of the management process see Chapter 7. This reflection has supported DPI in asking how things could be done differently. A small research team led by Victor Sposito, Rob Faggian and Ray Ison has designed and implemented this project overseeing key stages of its development.

Data collection and analysis has been completed by Andrea Grant in consultation with the research team at key stages. It was initially decided that a set of interviews be conducted, analysed and reflected upon prior to commencing a second cycle of research to reflect upon initial findings in dialogue with research participants. This first phase of the research was conducted with a view to continuation; a second iteration was envisaged that would connect up the findings of the research with future practice design in a way that seemingly has not been previously done within the DPI.

A set of names was provided by members of the research team of people who have been involved in CCA research and were believed could provide different perspectives of the issues. Six people out of a pool of approximately researchers and administration, some researchers are also research managers staff involved in Future Farming Systems Research were interviewed. This generated a view of the group in relation to others rather than a view of the levelled out representative sample of DPI research teams. This was designed as the first phase of interviews to surface different perspectives of CCA research as a basis for reflection and further discussion with DPI staff and others with a stakeholding in future farming systems CCA research activities.

In all 12 interviews were conducted with 13 people. But in this first phase we have worked with research management practitioners and other government stakeholders to begin to elucidate what constitutes systemically desirable change. Our initial analysis is based on observations and descriptions of what practitioners do. It is when such systems are judged to be problematic or failing to achieve the desired outcome that they become the focus of a planned intervention.

Following Ison and Russell , our description of bringing a view of a system into existence or naming a system of CCA research, develops on the key aspects which soft systems research undertakes as a first order process of observation. There are four relevant components for understanding such a process: the tasks; the first order. Rather this research begins an inquiry process recognising the importance of learning from the practice of implementing theory. There are four main points we take as critical components for effecting change in the way CCA research takes place. A systemic intervention is an action designed and developed with stakeholders in the research.

It is a alone. These comprise i naming and exploring a particular problematic situation in which there is a desire for improvement; ii exploring the culture and practices in the situation in which the problem or issue is found; and iii recognising the political nature of the situation and thus the power relations in which the problem or issue is manifest. The following key questions were adapted from SSM to capture the three elements of the inquiry to guide the research Figure 4.


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  7. How is climate change research rewarded; what are the significant roles for climate change researchers? How can we analyse the relational dynamics as evident in the types of influence different interests and groups have over climate change research? Semi-structured interviews were used to elicit responses that could address the three key questions see Appendix In this situation we took soft methods to refer to interpretive aspects of understanding a problematical situation and hard methods to refer to the instrumental aspects of designing an intervention to act on a situation.

    The three key documents representing the wider context of research and policy direction were. A more detailed analysis was conducted on two policy documents informing DPI research practice exploring the details of research policy drivers, constraints and competencies. These documents were examined to capture a view of the DPI activities shaped by the main goals or drivers of change, the particular constraints or limitations in realising them and the skills and competencies required in overcoming constraints and for increasing the potential for desired change. Guess and Farnham describe a framework as a set of theories or models where no single theory can work effectively to explain a policy problem p.

    Different theories and approaches for policy analysis come and go but they are often shaped by the substantive issue of the day, e. In this case our framework for policy analysis includes drivers, constraints and competencies as not just seeking those forces underlying change, the constraints to realising change but also the set of skills required to manage such change. This enables our analysis to work into the spaces of the institutions of governing as well as the spaces in which policies and programs have effects.

    Typically policy analysis focuses on drivers and constraints as a means of articulating a purpose for political intervention in some desired area of policy or program. As such a policy or program can be seen as a tool or technology for intervening on behaviours for some selected purpose of governing a population and its activities. Policies and programs usually provide direction but leave the means of implementation up to those charged with this responsibility.

    This can lead to failures in realising policy goals and objectives. Management theory and practice, on the other hand, does provide more prescriptive means of realising certain goals through development of particular skills and competencies in management practice. We find this a useful technique or social technology for enabling a better articulation of how government or governance might function or perform to produce desired outcomes.

    On this basis we have expanded our analysis of strategic policy documents to include drivers, constraints and competencies. We realise that the third element of our analysis might not be explicit in documents and therefore will focus analysis on unpacking discourses to locate possible areas that capture a sense of skills and competencies for implementing climate change adaptation research and policy and program development.

    Twelve semi-structured interviews were conducted with research managers and stakeholders covering two lines of descriptive and reflective questions Table 3. Descriptive questions asked participants to describe the situation in which they practiced while reflective questions sought a more considered response to open the possibility for critique of the situation in which CCA research was practiced.

    This method was applied to present a critical view of how practices and perceptions of CCA research may have. Observations were recorded from 47 different conversations and events to provide support in the analysis of interviews and in respect of understanding how CCA research took place within the social practices of research staff and stakeholders. The first nine of the twelve interviews were replayed and notes taken including verbatim summaries of thematic content.

    This provided a first pass of analysis for consideration by the research team, documented in an interim report. Following feedback from the research team a further three interviews were conducted. Interviews were later transcribed, analysed and mapped according to emergent themes capturing areas of difference in response to the interview questions. Transcripts were returned to participants so that they could review their comment and reflect on what was captured. They were invited to provide comment. None of the participants provided comment on the transcript, although three indicated that they would like to see how their comment appeared in the findings.

    A detailed analysis was conducted on the full interview transcripts which provided for more rigour in the comparison of discourses across each of the interview questions giving rise to a more structured analysis of the interview context. During this analysis attention was paid to the differences between FFSR, wider internal DPI and external DPI perspectives as well as to different metaphors and framings used in response to the question themes using grounded theory methods of constant comparison Strauss and Corbin The two lines of questions, those designed to elicit descriptive and reflective comments from interviews were paired into sets to generate comparisons Table 3.

    Analysis of the paired responses was then used to respond to the key research questions, corresponding to the three areas of systemic analysis: the problem situation, the social situation, and the political situation. This framing of the analysis is designed to recognise that people have different perspectives on their practice and to open up a discussion on areas of agreement and disagreement, for the purpose of defining a boundary for the system in focus.

    Table 3. Reflective 2. Contribution — how able to make a contribution to climate change knowledge? Threat — what kind of threat do you 4. Conceptualisation — what different think climate change poses to Victorians? Difference — how can and for whom 6. Valuation — what conceptualisations of will climate change research make a climate change are valued by difference? Grounded — what climate change 8. Linked-up — is research activity linked research actually looks like on the up in any way, and how?

    If not, why it ground? Barriers — what barriers for research in Other aspects - anything else you making a difference on the ground? The last two interviews questions form a view of the starting conditions for how a transformation of the CCA researching system might be designed by considering personal and professional barriers and areas of emphasis for change expressed by participants.

    As a Systemic Inquiry our involvement in the sense-making activities of research management underlies our ability to interpret practice from the context in which it is experienced. We conceptualise our work within DPI as moving between different modes of research practice from observer to facilitator and co-researcher status Figure 3.

    Observing activity and documenting it in a form that was informed by our particular theories and ways of knowing provides a device, potentially for the use of others, as a reification of what was observed. As facilitators we worked with those who are conducting research to think about their activities in different ways. However, the most enabling form of research, we propose, is as co-researchers where the design and implementation of research is done with research participants.

    Three modes of researcher as ideal types are represented in Figure 3. In the context of CCA research ultimately the goal is to move towards co-research in discussion with others who finds themselves in a situation in which there is desire for improvement Steyaert and Jiggins ; Ison et al and to empower research subjects to investigate issues that concern them Burns ; Ezzy , p.

    Evidence suggests that to enable learning from the experience of research practice it makes sense to engage those who are going to make use of the knowledge acquired and to understand ways in which research can provide them with an ability to respond to a situation Ison and Russell Moving towards co-research requires fundamental changes in which research relationships have been conceived and open questions about who actually does the learning in the practice of research Ison and Russell Chapter 4 Climate change adaptation research: findings 4. For example the IPCC document is distinguished by way of its framing of climate change as inclusive of climate variability.

    IPCC presents itself as an international scientific body formed specifically to provide independent advice to policy makers. The nested hierarchy depicted in Figure 4. These documents were all influential on the way CCA research developed within the DPI and were seen to provide the guiding force for CCA research framing and implementation in the DPI prior to commencing this research.

    VCCAP, described in more detail in section 4. The intention is to provide knowledge about projected impacts and to support decision makers by enabling the development of well informed science-based choices in a political context of climate action. It refers to any change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity. This usage differs from that in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change UNFCCC , where climate change refers to a change of climate that is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and that is 9.

    It is on this basis that a range of scenarios were generated to assist understanding in how human action could avert the most dangerous impacts of human-induced climate changes. Scenarios are based on different trends in mitigating action that are possible within existing technological capabilities. A wide range of mitigation options is currently available or projected to be available by in all sectors.

    Many impacts can be reduced, delayed or avoided by mitigation. Mitigation efforts and investments over the next two to three decades will have a large impact on opportunities to achieve lower stabilisation levels. Delayed emissions reductions significantly constrain the opportunities to achieve lower stabilisation levels and increase the risk of more severe climate change impacts.

    Making development more sustainable by changing development paths can make a major contribution to climate change mitigation and adaptation and to reducing vulnerability. They acknowledge that the understanding of adaptation and its real costs is difficult to ascertain because of the uncertainties of how climate change will pan out in different contexts. Barriers, limits and costs of adaptation are not fully understood, partly because effective adaptation measures are highly dependent on specific geographical and climate risk factors as well as institutional, political and financial constraints.

    There are limitations in knowing exactly how individuals and collectives will respond. Estimates of mitigation costs and potentials depend on assumptions about future socio-economic growth, technological change and consumption patterns. Uncertainty arises in particular from assumptions regarding the drivers of technology diffusion and the potential of long-term technology performance and cost improvements. Also little. They also provide a clear indication of what they see as the main drivers of climate change.

    The atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and CH4 in exceed by far the natural range over the last , years. Global increases in CO2 concentrations are due primarily to fossil fuel use, with land-use change providing another significant but smaller contribution. It is very likely that the observed increase in CH4 concentration is predominantly due to agriculture and fossil fuel use. The increase in N2O concentration is primarily due to agriculture. The conclusion of the eminent scientific group is that adaptation is unavoidable and if continued will eventually mean human survival along with other existing forms of life will be severely compromised.

    The National Climate Change Research Strategy for Primary Industries was developed with industry bodies as a means to engage with issues of climate change impact and adaptation.

    BOOK SERIES

    Its focus was on strengthening the partnership between research and industry as a means of encouraging cross-sectoral investment that maximised research design by ensuring communication between sectors and avoiding research duplication. The particular policy focus for industry and government investment in preparing agriculture for adaptation emphasises the importance of risk management approaches to acting within a wider set of environmental constraints.

    The following quotes from the body of the text illustrate the dominant concepts and language, and thus framing, that has developed. The focus is on constraints, and innovation in resource management, including the accommodation of climate variability, couched in the language of change. The development of management practices and technologies appropriate for changes in climate also has advantages for managing risk from climate variability, including drought.

    To do this, primary producers will need tools, technologies and alternative management systems and information about the appropriateness of practices and technologies under climate change scenarios. Climate change will influence primary production systems in a number of ways, including changes to carbon dioxide concentrations, temperature, moisture and seasonal conditions. Research will be required to understand these impacts and account for them, which should be built into existing research programs, where possible, to underpin the future productivity and profitability of primary industries.

    This includes closer engagement with the users of climate information to promote involvement in the processes of decision-making. Develop and apply consistent meta-data to assist research investors and end users identify and report on research relevant to climate change and emissions management. Facilitate workshops and forums where climate change issues can be discussed within different primary industry sectors and regional communities. Invest in advocates and champions to raise awareness about climate change issues and facilitate primary producer involvement in decision-making processes.

    Arguments are made for the need to better understand and promote improved practices through encouraging greater collaboration as part of a program of social research that enables practice change. The importance of dialogue is recognised in ensuring that the activities and decisions of researchers, policy makers and primary producers are well aligned so as to better understand the relationships between adaptation and mitigation measures.

    Adaptation to climate change and the mitigation of greenhouse gases are distinct, yet inter-dependent areas for action and investment. The dynamic environment of decision making at this level reflects the contingent nature of choices that have to be made in relation to the political decisions of others, including the effects of national policy innovations at the state level. As part of the upcoming Climate Change White Paper, the Victorian Government wants to set strong, clear goals in responding to climate change.

    The Government also wants to ensure that Victoria is positioned to take advantage of the new opportunities emerging from the introduction of a carbon price.

    Applying Systems Thinking for Nutrition

    Because circumstances vary across Australia, meeting national targets will be most efficiently achieved by allowing some states to make greater cuts than others. This is a major advantage of implementing a flexible policy tool like an emissions trading scheme. In the Green Paper, for example, the emphasis in adaptation is in responding to extremities and managing changes in resource availability and competition with recognition of the need to change public service delivery frameworks.

    However the direction of that anticipated change is left open and thus is contingent upon the response in other areas of government including market-based developments of mitigation and adaptation measures at a national or global level. It The Agriculture and Fisheries Four Year Strategy provided the particular policy approach through which the DPI seeks to achieve these goals in the agriculture including forestry and fisheries sector.

    These are now considered in turn. They are the result of an analysis or of bringing certain things into focus to direct behaviours towards the pursuit of common goals or collectively shared ideals for agricultural policy. The Victorian Future Farming Strategy defined a number of key desirable actions to see the success of primary industries beyond the challenges of uncertain climates and markets.

    Action three of the strategy outlines a set of competencies and skills for understanding and managing climate change. It recognises that different contexts will require varied strategies across regions and agricultural activities and that to remain productive in a changing environment farmers will have to adopt new farming and business strategies.

    A suite of activities is suggested as means for farmers to change their practices in a way that makes farming more tolerant to local climatic changes and other kinds of turbulence, such as market competition and changing social values. An outline is made of the types of problems farmers need to pay attention to in the broader multiplicity of drivers of change. Climate change adaptation is framed through attention to a range of new choices on diversifying varieties, shifting seasonal plantings, redesigning pest management, managing heat stress in animals and managing pasture productivity.

    It is significant that all of these strategies are essentially limited to on-farm actions. They do not expand to include farmer-to-farmer concerns, local and regional livelihood strategies, or aspects of socio-ecological resilience. This message is closely tied to technological innovation as the primary source of improvement directed at productivity and competitiveness. The integration of a sustainability discourse is secondary to these imperatives for Victorian agriculture. Nevertheless a new era of farming is seen as driven by a number of pressures, from social and natural environments, on the viability of agriculture.

    Such an environment is framed by unprecedented change driven by international competitiveness, development pressures, and changing values. Furthermore there are growing levels of uncertainty with rapidly growing market demand, financial uncertainty, and prolonged drought. Such drivers are thought to be increasing farming complexity in which a corporate approach to agriculture is represented as the pathway for increasing production efficiencies and emission reductions. They will use more off-farm capital, specialised technical and financial advice, and non-family labour.

    They will plan strategically, and trade more actively in land, water, capital and their products to respond flexibly to fluctuating prices and climatic conditions. They will significantly improve their stewardship of land, native vegetation, water and animals. In addition, successful farm businesses will use a wide range of risk management tools to manage cycles of weather and prices.

    They comprise key areas of investment in DPI activities including technology, skills education, adaptation planning, managing resources, future family health and wellbeing security, product and market innovation and transport infrastructure. Of the seven action areas that the Victorian Government has committed to deliver through DPI the focus of this analysis is in the function of understanding and managing climate change as part of the investment in adaptation planning.

    The Four Year Strategy dovetails the key strategic document driving a whole of government approach to future farming in Victoria. It recognises two other key documents as significant co-strategies in achieving a productive, competitive and sustainable agricultural including forestry and fisheries sector. Within the Agriculture and Fisheries Four Year Strategy the environment of change is represented by the immediate uncertainty and the future orientation of the strategy. The timing of the strategy followed the global financial crisis reflecting concern about financial uncertainty. Against this there is an expectation of growing market demand through continued development of markets in China and India, especially for core Victorian commodities such as milk and meat due to the growing affluence of these countries.

    The major driver from the Four Year Strategy is the importance of the sector to the wealth and wellbeing of Victoria and vitality of rural and regional Victorian economies. Several areas are highlighted as important aspects of primary production which are exposed to climate risks. Security of the economic and resource base of Victoria is the dominant framing for CCA research at the state level. In other words working within constraints to maintain and improve the existing use of resources against competing market demands and climate risk.

    They are the perceived limitations within the social and natural environment that prevent goals and objectives from being realised. In this case they are an important reference for the design and development of particular competencies in overcoming them. The two strategy documents are now considered in turn. The simplest way of describing the kinds of constraints outlined by the strategy are the set of risks to a productive, competitive and sustainable agricultural sector.

    Included in the description are future risks in meeting the challenge of uncertain market prices and demands, and the coupling of the extended drought and competitive global markets on investment returns. Direct risks to business are also noted as pressure from drought, water scarcity, labour shortages, increasing competition and long term impacts of climate change. Additional business concerns include changing risk and risk perceptions of exotic pests and disease as well as community and consumer concerns about biosecurity risks.

    Advances in global development are also seen as potential constraints through intensifying competition as agriculture expands into South America and Asia and subsequent demands of agricultural inputs such as fuel, fertiliser and finance increases. Trade negotiations are currently represented as constrained by the slowed rate of negotiations in achieving market liberalisation of the developed world economies. Land and water resource competition is viewed as a constraint in further developing agriculture in Victoria, not just in direct terms of market competition but also in higher community demands for environmental sustainability.

    Scientific uncertainty is another type of constraints in which climate history is no longer seen as a reliable guide to future climates. The Four Year Strategy mirrors the constraints of the Future Farming Strategy with the addition of land use pressure in a state context of rural and regional development and in the possible constraints of an ETS on agricultural production.

    Greater detail is also given in relation to climate change constraints on agriculture in terms of food quality, lower yields,. Competencies are the desired behaviours that government encourages to deal with a particular issue or meet the challenges of particular drivers. Table 4. Future Farming Strategy Boosting productivity through new technology and changes in farming practices Building skills and attracting young people to farming Understanding and managing climate change Strengthening land and water management including pest and weed management Helping farm families to secure their futures particularly health and wellbeing Developing new products and securing new markets Transporting products to market specifically grain rail freight.

    Four Year Strategy Developing a strategic policy framework Driving innovation in science, technology and practice Developing and operating efficient markets and regulatory frameworks Negotiating and facilitating major investments Managing emergencies promptly and effectively Achieving excellence in corporate and business management. Outside of the explicit actions and investments committed by government to support the implementation of the Future Farming Strategy there are a number of areas in which competencies are suggested.

    Other areas of desired skills in agriculture are in recognising opportunities including in plantation forestry and aquaculture; technological and market innovation such as those possible in emerging water and carbon markets; increased productivity, e. Other desired capabilities are in direct responses to drivers such as improving practices in risk management not only of financial and business risks but environmental and climate impact management. There is a desire for stronger awareness of development pressures amongst the sector communities to better prepare themselves for new patterns of land use, threats from exotic weeds and pests, and changing community and consumer expectations.

    Against growth in productivity, additional competencies are sought in responding to social and environmental value changes demanding more sustainable use of resources and improved animal welfare and product quality and safety. The kinds of competencies sought through the implementation of the Four Year Strategy focused on efficiencies, innovation, environmental protection and social responsibility towards understanding and managing risk. Competitiveness drivers stimulated the need for the efficient use of natural recourse including water and resource use efficiencies as well as efficiency frameworks, growth capacity, efficiency infrastructure and management.

    In terms of innovation the focus was directed to providing quality jobs and thriving industries through skills and capability in innovation. Social and environmental values were driving competencies in environmental protection for future generations including water security and supporting health and lifestyle quality including aged care innovation. Other social responsibilities in understanding risk were directed at competencies in emergency management, climate change management and various disciplines in sustainable products and harvest including organic methods and fair trade.

    The Systemic Thinking and Practice Series

    It seems the vision for the strategy in its broadest sense is progress within a risk managed environment in which the emphasis is on maintaining a course of development of resource use efficiencies and technological innovation. Some of these are tied to familiar public service approaches including corporate and business management and developing a strategic policy framework. Such managerial and strategic options are public service values deemed worthy of maintaining in the face of uncertainty and unprecedented change.

    However additional disciplines are being pursued including driving innovation, market efficiencies, facilitating investments and managing emergencies to support agricultural futures. It is worth noting that sustainability is configured as sustaining the increase of wealth and sustainable businesses, which seems to reflect a need for business resilience against market and environmental uncertainties. The continued growth of wealth for the state drives the major policy discourses and the protection of assets supporting wealth creation is a risk to be managed.

    The FFS is a whole of government statement which positions DPI as the lead agency driving competencies in productivity, competitiveness and sustainability and gradually adding more disciplines to the practice of farming into the future to ensure its wealth creating attributes are retained. Six strategies Developing a strategic policy framework Driving innovation in science, technology and practice Developing and operating efficient markets and regulatory frameworks.

    Seven strategies Develop, influence and implement strategic policy Driving innovation using science, technology and practice change Develop markets and regulatory frameworks. Negotiating and facilitating major investments Attract and facilitate major investments and manage major projects Managing emergencies promptly and Prepare for and respond to emergencies effectively Achieving excellence in corporate and Enabling departmental performance business management.

    Develop partnerships and engage with industry, community and other stakeholders. In an annual review of the Four Year Strategy, the Department Secretary Richard Bolt presents the document as a response to the dynamic environment of government. The Four Year Strategy now works within four other strategies within the DPI translating their objectives into operational direction and priority areas for DPI investment.

    These strategies explicitly recognise the need for government to better target and tailor its involvement in the sector into the future. The white papers on Land and Biodiversity and Climate Change are no longer primarily framing investment but being replaced by the Better Services to Farmers policy. Ultimately the strategic direction is to be guided by a longer term strategy and exploratory efforts of the DPI in specific focus areas. There are two means believed to be necessary for achieving this: 1 increasing knowledge and capability of government, agricultural and agri-businesses, rural communities and individuals to make good, informed and holistic decisions; and 2 maximising the benefits and minimising the economic, social and environmental costs of climate change.

    VCCAP aimed to deliver knowledge to ensure the regional economy continued to support diverse industries producing safe, healthy food and economic growth despite uncertainties, not only with climate but other dimensions of financial security and global competition. The aims of the VCCAP research were directed at maximising benefits and minimising risks; couching CCA in a familiar language such that the research could be readily transferred to policy and other decision making contexts.

    It was framed in a way that did not make a significant break from the past by continuing trajectories of research into efficiencies and competitiveness while at the same time responding to changing social values around issues such as biosecurity, food safety and environmental management.

    In conjunction with this backgrounding of the context in which research management and practice takes place, our interviews with key stakeholders provide a basis for exploring the realisation of policy in to practice. These responses capture the view of participants situated by their particular management or stakeholding context, which is later reflected upon in relation to the policy documents and VCCAP research outputs. This is followed by a description of the threats posed by climate change as perceived by respondents and how they consider research might be able to make a difference, what research actually looks like on the ground.

    Some of these roles were described as connected to different fields of research and disciplines. The variety of fields in which participants worked ranged from animal, production, crop science, horticulture, farming systems, research extension, practice change, natural resource management, water science, policy making, economics, planning policy and development, land use planning, transport infrastructure, and so on. All interviews, however, had some stakes in FFSR activities.

    Some participant had a direct role in climate change research while others had a climate change role within a suite of other activities. Some worked within a single disciplinary area such as plant production while others worked across a range of disciplines such as natural resource management, crop science and animal production. Furthermore some recognised their activity with a single body of stakeholding while others had multi-stakeholding interest in their activities. Stakeholders included policy makers, various departments and ministries, state and federal government, industry and regional bodies, farmers and farming communities, as well as researchers and the wider Victorian community.

    Serie: The Systemic Thinking and Practice Series

    Each activity is bounded by what people say they do and the intended outcomes of activity for each of their stakeholders. Each of the bubbles represents the stakeholding for each participant thus there are twelve bubbles the two stakeholders interviewed together are captured by one bubble. Within each bubble there is a label which refers to who or what the participant suggests as their main stakeholding activity.

    There is also a set of one or two broken line bubbles within those larger bubbles that describes the purpose of that stakeholding. A second set of closed bubbles describes how the participant has described their role in executing that purpose. For example one participant sees his stakeholding for the State minister and the wider social economy in which he acts to influence policy design to ensure the state is not disadvantaged.

    He does this by understanding policy impacts and by influencing the political agenda. Figure 4.

    Learning outcomes

    Karnac Books on Facebook. Attachment Theory. Autism and Aspergers.

    Brief Psychotherapy. Child and Adolescent Studies. Clinical Psychology. Cognitive-Behavioural Therapies. Culture and Psychoanalysis. Eating Disorders. Existential therapy. Expressive Arts Therapies. Family, Couple and Systemic Therapy. Gestalt Therapy. Grief and Bereavement.


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