Resilience through systemic structuring of uncertainty

Peter Bednar, Christine Welch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this paper is to discuss the role of systemic thinking in facilitating symmetric communication in organizations, to promote resilience and sustainability. Another way to express this is support for creation of a learning organization. We believe that embracing uncertainty as part of efforts to resolve problem spaces is a key to promoting resilient management practices, i.e. those which are sustainable through complex changing circumstances and perspectives. However, it is important to recognise that initial assessment of a problem space always involves assumptions about its boundaries. This is due to the limitations of human sense-making processes. Our pre-understandings, based in previous experiences, are the foundation upon which initial boundary setting practice is built. We do not suggest that techniques aimed at breaking down problems are not useful. However, in a complex and turbulent world, such approaches are insufficient to bring about resolutions that are flexible and capable of adaptation to changing circumstances and needs. Methods are needed to support ‘complexification’ and explore boundary setting, in order to question initial assumptions and embrace uncertainties inherent in any problem space. We suggest approaches which promote resilient management practice, by creating a knowledge base from which to address contextual dependencies experienced by individuals as part of organizational life
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-90
Number of pages12
JournalThe Systemist
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008


  • organizational resilience
  • contextual dependency
  • uncertainty
  • sustainable management
  • practice
  • organizational resilience
  • contextual dependency


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