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Working With Complexity – The EMK Method


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Course dates: 
Monday, 10 October, 2016 to Friday, 21 October, 2016

With Eve Mitleton-Kelly and guests

Week 1: 10 – 14 October – Key Concepts and Enabling Environments
Week 2: 17 – 21 October – Case Studies and Group Analysis

Complex problems, whether organisational, societal or global, often appear not only difficult but intractable, and seem not to have an effective solution. The main reason is that the approach used is often inappropriate.

Complex problems have many aspects and multiple interacting causalities, yet we often focus on a few or even a single cause. We also insist on finding a ‘solution’ when such a solution would only be applicable within a certain set of circumstances and may no longer be relevant when those circumstances change.

Professor Eve Mitleton-Kelly has worked with the sciences of complexity for over 20 years to address practical problems in both the private and public sectors. She has worked with the UN, the European Commission, advised five Government Administrations and many organisations. In the process she has developed the EMK Complexity Methodology to address these problems.

These two, week-long, courses are for academics, business-people, policy-makers, Overseas Development professionals or anyone looking to effectively address complex problems in their work or lives.

Week 1 – Key Concepts and Enabling Environments

This week will introduce participants to some key concepts in complexity science that underpin the EMK Complexity Methodology. Participants are advised to bring a challenge they are working on. They will be trained on how to conduct in-depth interviews in small groups and how to analyse the findings individually before experiencing a group analysis process. The key feature of the approach is to identify the ‘critical co-evolving clusters’ in the problem space, i.e. those issues which are not only closely linked, but which influence each other and change the behaviour of the interacting entities. Using those clusters the participants will be shown how to help set up ‘enabling environments’ that address the critical clusters sustainably. Participants will conduct a series of interviews to enable them to use real data for the analysis and this will significantly increase the benefit they will derive from both modules.

Week 2 – Case Studies and Group Analysis

Working on a common theme (e.g. leadership) all participants will be taken through a group analysis process to (a) identify the multiple dimensions (social, cultural, political, economic, technical, physical, etc.) in the problem space; (b) identify the critical co-evolving clusters; (c) prepare for the enabling environment by addressing key critical co-evolving clusters at multiple scales (individual, group, organisational); (d) prepare and present findings and recommendations at a Reflect Back Workshop. The Group Analysis and the setting up of the Enabling Environment will be the main feature of Week 2.


Professor Eve Mitleton-Kelly is Senior Fellow in IDEAS, the Centre for the Study of International Affairs, Diplomacy & Grand Strategy, LSE; founder and Director of the Complexity Research Programme, LSE; visiting Professor at the Open University; member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Complex Systems (2012-2014); SAB member of the ‘Next Generation Infrastructures Foundation’, TU Delft; on Editorial Board  of ‘Emergence: Complexity & Organisations’; Policy Advisor to European and USA organisations, the European Commission, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), the UN OCHA and UNEP, several UK Government Departments; an Indonesian Government Agency on deforestation; Scientific Advisor to the Governments of Australia, Brazil, Canada, Netherlands, Singapore and UK.

Eve’s research has concentrated on addressing apparently intractable problems at organisational, national and global levels and the creation of enabling environments based on complexity science. She has led, and participated in 45 research projects funded by the EPSRC, ESRC, AHRC, the European Commission, business and government to address complex problems. She has developed a theory of Complex Social Systems and a methodology to address complex problems. She has edited, co-edited and co-authored 5 books and has written extensively on the application of complexity theory to address complex problems. Publications etc. at EMK has been commissioned by Edward Elgar to edit a Handbook on Research Methods in Complexity Science to be published in 2016.


£ 1 495.00
Full Two Week Short Course: £1495 Includes private accommodation, all meals, field trips, materials and all teaching sessions. The programme will run from Monday 10 October to Friday afternoon, 21 October. The above fee is for 13 nights accommodation and all vegetarian meals from the first lunchtime you arrive through until the lunchtime before your departure.