+ve/-ve of Systemic Inquiry

We live in an uncertain and complex environment, created by ourselves which we continue to re-create and evolve, often facing challenges that are beyond imagination for some. The use of systemic inquiry (SI) enables systems practices that acknowledge uncertainty, drawing upon a practitioners understanding of systems thinking, theories of learning, action research, cooperative inquiry and adaptive management.


SI is an approach which can be used to move towards social learning that considers multiple stakeholders, complex situations, embraces uncertainty and understands the importance of emotions; a critical human characteristic often ignored or forgotten within organisations. SI can be used in long and short term situations and described as an ‘antidote’ to being driven by predetermined targets.


An effective and aware systems practitioner applying SI can call on a greater variety of options for doing something about complex real-world situations. They are able to facilitate choices which enhances the ability to offer systemically desirable, culturally feasible and ethically acceptable change.


SI has no blueprint to follow, allowing the situation to be explored freely without pre-dispositions steering the nature of the inquiry towards a predetermined output. I consider this an argument both for and against as it may be difficult for new practitioners to understand and apply this concept.


Within mainstream practices, systems language is not greatly valued, well understood or practised. Practitioners will require an awareness of this and prepared to offer explanations for misunderstandings.

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