“Epistemology, what’s that?” I hear you say. Epistemology is the history of you. It’s a philosophy thing – the theory of knowledge. Why do you think the things you do and behave the way you do? Why are your beliefs justified? Why is it that you know something, or don’t know something?
Whilst systems practitioners may not be epistemologists, we are aware of epistemology and work with an awareness of it. We are aware that everyone has limitations to their knowledge. Everyone’s image of the world is only partial. We know that people will often build a model of the world in their own mind as how they WANT to see it. This means that sometimes they will see ONLY what they want to see and not the other aspects of the situation.
Working with epistemological awareness helps systems practitioners be receptive to all information about a situation. It makes us more able to take multiple perspectives on board. That way, we aren’t intimidated by complex situations; we are able to embrace them.
More about complexity and epistemology can be found here: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/science-maths-technology/computing-and-ict/systems-computer/managing-complexity-systems-approach/content-section-2.3