Towards a Practice of Systemic Change — Acknowledging Social Complexity in Project Management
The Anthropocene calls for systemic change which requires much more than good ideas, stakeholder activism and self-organization. Successful change is managed in the form of a project. However, project management itself needs to learn to cope with the systemic complexity of the real world, especially with social complexity. Hence, this paper explores the paradox of reintroducing complexity within a discipline that has professionalized the reduction of complexity. Acknowledging the inevitability of the social aspects in human activity systems, this paper suggests decomposing social complexity along a political and a cultural perspective. This has methodological implications and practical consequences. First, the political stakeholder analysis is enriched with a systemic and ecological view. Second, cultures are interpreted along the lines of meaning-creation and sensemaking, exploring the stories which are the world to us. Thus, navigating systemic change finally embarks on the concept of next practice, promoting a path forward, step by step. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.