Water scarcity in Australia is the defining crisis of the 21st century. To respond and prosper our governing institutions must contend with an array of dynamic pressures from population growth, declining infrastructure, and climate change. But are they equipped for a hyper-connected and complexity rising society?
Water systems were originally designed for complicated order, linear processes, and efficiency maximisation. The limitation of hierarchical organisational models is they cannot address large-scale levels of complexity. To provide for higher complexity hierarchical structures must give way to structures that are dominated by lateral interactions (social relationships outside the official hierarchy). For complex environments like urban water systems stronger networks and looser hierarchies are needed.
We advance themes of socio-hydrologic dynamics from complex adaptive systems, transformational digital platform ecosystems, and public value as a new paradigm for generating sustainable growth and prosperity. Network-based approaches are designed to be relationship driven, enable bottom-up self-organisation, and promote distributed leadership. We must foster the conditions for behaviour change based on shared consciousness and empowered execution. Adaptability, not efficiency is the central competency we seek to become in creating a new culture towards water that is open, responsive, and durable.
Networked leadership is the ambitious legacy we strive to bestow for future generations.