Review of Flood, R. L., & Carson, E. R. (1988). Dealing with Complexity: An Introduction to the Theory and Application of System Science. New York: Plenum Press.

Dr Terence Love
Edith Cowan University, Western Australia

Designing involves changing humans’ futures: a complex activity addressing complex problems spanning different social, natural, technical and infomatic systems and different domains.

Flood and Carson skillfully review key approaches of systems science to addressing problems involving complexity. They include many case studies and practical examples.

The book is multi-layered, with three themes: addressing complexity (Chapters 1-11), using different systems models in the technical world and natural sciences (Chapters 3-10), and addressing problems in systems that additionally include complexity from human behaviour, learning and cognition (Chapters 5-7).

This is the second edition and benefits by practitioners’ and researchers’ feedback. For designers, it describes many useful techniques, some of which also address philosophical issues, complex systemic problem solving approaches, and utilise mathematical procedures and concepts. This book is likely to be useful in raising the quality of output of designers in most domains.