Introducing the Critical Systems Forum


Recently I wrote the article "Before Being Born, Until the Day We Die, We Depend on Systems". It provided the context to Enlightened Enterprise Academy plans for the new Critical Systems Forum.



In the article, I also gave my reasons for wanting to establish the Critical Systems Forum following an invitation from Dr Michael C. Jackson, author of Critical Systems Thinking and the Management of Complexity. In short, I believe our poor understanding of systems is a major reason for their failings and the inability of businesses and organisations to execute strategies and successfully deliver projects.


The current global pandemic has highlighted many weaknesses in the critical systems we rely upon for the proper functioning of society, systems that were already struggling in a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) world. The negative impacts on our ability to achieve sustainable widely share prosperity, measured in terms of human flourishing and wellbeing, are very evident. The impact on our ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, already in doubt, is a case in point. The weaknesses in health and care systems, shown up by Covid19, are other examples.


There are a number of interrelated problems to address if we are to flourish in the VUCA world:

  • The inability to view complex issues holistically as systems-of-systems

  • Failure to recognise how problems and systems may be interrelated, interdependent, or co-dependent

  • Inability to manage and mitigate the associated risks, and take advantage of the potential opportunities

  • The difficulty people have determining type/s of problems (tame, messy, wicked)

  • Insufficient appreciation of the ways different types of problems can best be addressed

  • Inability to recognise the quite different nature of different types of systems (mechanistic, natural, social etc.)

  • The tendency to apply one analogy - usually the mechanistic analogy - as the lens through which to view all problems

  • The tendency to apply favoured approaches and methodologies to problem situations, rather than consider which have the most relevance in the search for solutions.

The main goal of the Critical Systems Forum is to improve societal, business, and organisational value. Given that this is our main goal, our focus will be the creation and aggregation of research, thought leadership and best practice. And this we will achieve through research-based initiatives conducted with or supported by others.

The body of knowledge we establish will be made as widely available as possible using the multi-media publishing platform that the Enlightened Enterprise Academy is creating. Additionally, we are creating executive education courses to be offered by the Enlightened Enterprise Academy.


The Critical Systems Forum has its own identity and will soon have its own website. In the meantime, we have also created a private LinkedIn group to support the Steering Committee that will help in the establishment of the forum.


We have produced a Draft Development Plan for the Steering Committee to help refine and implement in preparation for a full launch in early 2021.


If you would like to express interest in joining the Steering Committee please download the draft development plan and locate the email address to reach is. It is on the final page.

If you would like to keep up to date with the news about the forum and be notified of the launch date please subscribe to the Enlightened Enterprise Academy newsletter.

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