Complexity and Public Administration

Dave Snowden

Some 10 years ago now when I first became interested in how complexity science might be used in public administration there was a body of thinking but relatively few practical examples of applications. That has changed. This has brought attention to approaches informed by complexity science for working with intractable problems as well as a way to square the circle of making localization workable and relevant. This blog is being posted on behalf of Thomas Townsend.

Managing in Complexity

Harold Jarche

As our markets and technologies get more complex, we need new models to get work done. Simple systems are easily knowable, whereas complicated systems, while not simple, are still knowable through analysis. However, complex systems are not fully knowable, though they can be partially understood through interaction with them. If companies want to remain competitive in the global market, they need to focus on complex and creative work. complexity Wirearchy Work

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Design thinking & complexity pt 1

Dave Snowden

I started talking about the differences that complexity theory makes to design thinking some time ago - In Malmo at the XP conference as I remember it - and have now introduced that material in modified form onto day four of our accreditation programme. The essence of the approach seemed to be: A claim to be a solution rather than a 'science' A focus on synthesis rather than analysis.

Big Data, Complex Systems and Quantum Mechanics

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

In thinking about this question over the last few years, I started to notice that a number of subtle, non-intuitive concepts that I learned many years ago as a physics student seem to apply to the world of big data and information-based predictions in highly complex systems. The very act of observing an object will change the object being observed. Complex Systems Economic Issues Education and Talent Innovation Management and Leadership Society and Culture Technology and Strategy

Scale and Complex Systemic Innovation

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

We generally think of large companies as being good at operations and incremental innovations, which require them to excel at management discipline, detailed information analysis and project management. It favors large companies because of their ability to address complex systemic problems, manage the large-scale ecosystems that solving such problems requires, and bring their solutions to market all round the world.

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Leadership in a Changing World

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

What are the critical competencies needed to lead in our fast-changing business environment? The key challenge confronting CEOs, - and senior executives in general, - is the relentless pace of change. But, w hile speed is the major dimension of change, it’s not the only one. Is the change evolutionary or revolutionary in nature? While ignoring major changes is bad, acting before understanding its implications could be worse.

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Re-wiring for the Complex Workplace

Harold Jarche

Complexity is the new normal. Connected knowledge workers need more than directives; they need ongoing, real-time, constantly-changing, collaborative, support. It takes a lot of analysis to understand all the pieces. Today’s complicated organizations are now facing increasingly complex business environments that require agility in simultaneously learning and working. Re-wiring for complexity. complexity Learning Wirearchy

The Complex Relationship Between Science and the Public

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

But, despite broadly similar views about the place of science in the country, there were large differences between the general public and scientist across a number of important issues , including genetically modified foods, vaccine safety and climate change. Two years ago, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences launched The Public Face of Science , an initiative whose objective is to better understand the complex relationship between scientists and the public in America.

Automation and the Changing Demand for Workforce Skills

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Based on an analysis of around 2,000 work activities across 800 different occupations, the report concluded that “fewer than 5 percent of occupations can be entirely automated using current technology. Let me now discuss the more recent report published earlier this year, which examined the changes in skills required of human workers over the next 10-15 years. I’ll focus my discussion on the US skill changes, as the European changes were similar.

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Organizations and Complexity

Harold Jarche

Tweet I’ve discussed this table before, but I’d like to put it all the links together to highlight what we need to do with our organizations and structures to deal with complexity. Complexity. How we can support emergent practices in the increasingly complex enterprise: COMPLEXITY. Patti Anklam , in discussing value networks and complexity states: Understanding of complexity provides a practical guide to managing context.

Strategy and Execution in an Increasingly Complex World

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Often, this is because they associate strategy with analysis and execution with getting things done, and they attribute more value to doing than to analyzing.” . Twenty-thirty years ago, the business world was arguably less complex, slower moving and more predictable. But, in today’s fast changing and unpredictable business environments, these time cycles are increasingly overlapping.

Embracing Disruptive Change - Why Is it So Difficult?

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

One of the topics discussed was how companies generally deal with major technology and market changes, - like those that have been taking place all around us for the past few decades. Transformative change comes naturally to young companies, as it generally does to young people. But, based on my personal experiences, adapting to such disruptive changes is much more difficult for successful, well established companies.

Change 207

How Can We Ensure that Our Complex AI Systems Do What We Want Them to Do?

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Software-intensive systems are generally quite flexible, - able to evolve and adapt to changing product and market requirements. Things are even tougher with people-centric sociotechnical systems, which not only have to deal with potential software problems, but with the even more complex issues involved in human behaviors and interactions. What is it that makes these systems so intrinsically complex? What purpose does this complexity serve?

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Changing thinking, changing systems

Harold Jarche

“The challenge of the coming century is to change the value system of society. patterns, social psychology, value network analysis, anthropology, complexity theory, and more. Tweet Here are some of the insights and observations that were shared on Twitter this past week. Vaclav Havel” via @BillMcKibben. “Intellectual property is an oxymoron. Ideas can’t be owned. Instead, governments grant exclusive licenses to them.” ” ~ @JohnRobb.

Change 144

7 principles of intervention in complex systems

Dave Snowden

Not to simply report what we had found, but to allow to explore the data and come up with a series of interventions that would hold out the possibility of achieving change, or through failure would allow learning to take place. Now one of the basic Cynefin mantras is that of safe-fail interventions, and lots of them, if the problem is complex. It is important to realise that a lot of conflict happens in the complex arena. I may buy this T-Shirt as its a great slogan.

Social Learning, Complexity and the Enterprise

Harold Jarche

Organizations, in order to function, need to encourage social exchanges and social learning due to faster rates of business and technological changes. Social experience is adaptive by nature and a social learning mindset enables better feedback on environmental changes back to the organization. The Internet has fundamentally changed how we communicate on a scale as large as the printing press or the advent of written language. The little stuff is changing too fast.

Complexity and Design in Warfare

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

The workshop explored how design-oriented approaches can help us better understand and deal with the very complex problems we are increasingly encountering in all aspects of business, economies, government, public policy, military operations and society in general. Some of the areas explored by the Forum are emerging technologies, organizational development, economic competition, and the changing concept of security. Analysis involves a relatively linear set of steps.

OMG, its culture change time

Dave Snowden

And of course once blame has been allocated we end up with a visitation from the cultural change specialists with their tool kit of communication plans, key drivers, motivational posters, games and the like. It's a form of aversion therapy really, change now or we'll put you through a re-education programme. He starts by belittling the its the way we do things around here definition of culture by referencing the hopelessness of conventional attempts to change process.

Embracing complexity at work

Harold Jarche

The Cynefin framework is a good way to explain different types of work and how training can only help in some cases: when work is simple (cause & effect are obvious) or complicated (cause & effect can be determined through analysis). Training is of little use in developing the necessary emergent practices for dealing with complex problems in our work environment. Complex work requires creativity and is where the value of the post-industrial organization lies.

Climate Change, Waste & Festivals: a collective fight needing a common understanding

Dave Snowden

it also has the potential to mobilise momentum and drive change through the sharing of stories about what people are doing to make the world a better place. Building small, incremental change has always been the complexity mantra. When thinking about change and transformation, we were particularly interested in the idea of apathy, simplicity and the importance of time, e.g. are people thinking ahead or are there “more important things to do”?

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The Complex Relationship Between Science and the Public

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

But, despite broadly similar views about the place of science in the country, there were large differences between the general public and scientist across a number of important issues , including genetically modified foods, vaccine safety and climate change. Two years ago, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences launched The Public Face of Science , an initiative whose objective is to better understand the complex relationship between scientists and the public in America.

Growing Up in a Complex World

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

The primary challenge emerging out of the CEO conversations was complexity - the fact that CEOs now operate in a world that is substantially more volatile, uncertain and complex. They feel that incremental changes are no longer sufficient because the world is operating in fundamentally different ways. Owing perhaps to the challenges of today’s economic environment, students revealed distinctive viewpoints on the issues of complexity, information and decision-making.

learning in complexity and chaos

Harold Jarche

But more of our challenges are complex and cannot be solved in a standard way — inequality, refugees, populism, racism. Whenever people are involved, within a global context of climate change, the situation is likely complex. In complex situations there is less reliance on detailed plans and analysis and a greater emphasis on continuous experimentation coupled with good observation and tracking. We have to learn constantly in complexity.

Capacity, Change, and Performance

George Siemens

Capacity, Change, and Performance (.pdf The report is worth more of an analysis/critique than I have time for now, but I’d to draw attention to the chart on page 19-20 (of the pdf) addressing major distinctions between planning in traditional systems versus planning in complex adaptive systems. pdf here ) is a lengthy report (166 pages) from 2008. The report is focused on development agencies, but many of the concepts tackled apply well to corporations and education.

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The True Value of a Good Education: Adaptability to a Changing Environment

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

While the increasing number of PhDs around the world has resulted in an extraordinary amount of good research , many PhD programs haven’t adapted to a changing job market. The students meet supervisors from a range of disciplines; they acquire management, communication, leadership and other transferable skills alongside traditional academic development of critical thinking and analysis; and they spend six months to a year abroad.”.

Increased complexity needs simplified design

Harold Jarche

Now that many of us live in messy democracies and work in loose networks, learning has become complex with more connections to influence us. According to the authors of Getting to Maybe , in complex environments : Rigid protocols are counter-productive. As Jay has said, informal learning is a better approach for more complex environments. Build learning resources so that they can be easily changed or modified by anyone (allow for a hacker mentality ).

The Changing Nature of Globalization in Our Hyperconnected, Knowledge-Intensive Economy

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

To illustrate the incredibly fast pace of change, Friedman noted that in the short time-span since World is Flat was published, we were already transitioning from a connected to an increasingly hyperconnected world. It then developed the MGI Connectedness Index, which measures these 5 flows in 131 countries, examined how the flows had changed over the past 10 - 20 years, and predicted how they are likely to evolve over the next decade.

Change 180

Changing the mechanistic mindset

Harold Jarche

Without fail, in the past five years every new client I have been engaged by has specified one of two things they really wanted to see change in their organizations culture. In my dialogues with them I do my best to point out that to the best of my knowledge both of these changes are within reach, however, not without them, the client, making the first move. In my own experience some version of Wirearchies have been around for a long time, especially on complex development projects.

Change 156

complexity & chaos — the new normal

Harold Jarche

A major challenge I have had in my organizational change work is getting people to understand that complicated environments are different from complex ones, and the latter are almost always the situation when people are involved. Generally it means that in complex situations there is less reliance on pre-planning and analysis and a greater emphasis on continuous experimentation coupled with good observation and tracking. Complexity Democracy

Learning is Behaviour Change: why is it often so hard to help it happen?

Charles Jennings

Alan Deutschman, the author of ‘ Change or Die ’ makes a pretty stark statement about people’s reluctance to change: “What if a well-informed, trusted authority figure said you had to make difficult and enduring changes in the way you think and act? Could you change when change really mattered? He goes on to say that even if you think you’d change, it’s unlikely to happen. Now with nicotine there’s a very clear reason why behaviour is difficult to change.

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Networked learning in a changing world

Harold Jarche

Only through the power of value networks can we address our complex issues – together – and create a more hopeful future. Five surprising changes in 2010 by @lemire. I think that much of the establishment is greatly underestimating the amplitude and significance of these changes. My sense is that becoming a master at networked learning helps you improve what you are doing in world that is changing so fast and is so complex.

Change 155

Measuring the Effectiveness of Social Distancing Policies

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

However, you can empirically address a key set of important question: how have these social distancing policies changed mobility and social behavior?; The changes in distance travelled and social contacts became significant only after non-essential business closure measures were put in place on March 22nd. Let me briefly describe the sources of the data used in the analysis as well as the methods used to preserve data privacy.

The Collapse of Complex Business Models ? Clay Shirky

Clay Shirky

The Times’ Paywall and Newsletter Economics » The Collapse of Complex Business Models. In 1988, Joseph Tainter wrote a chilling book called The Collapse of Complex Societies. Every one of those groups had rich traditions, complex social structures, advanced technology, but despite their sophistication, they collapsed, impoverishing and scattering their citizens and leaving little but future archeological sites as evidence of previous greatness. Clay Shirky.

Reconnecting Society and Reopening the Economy

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

They found that NY’s social distancing policies had indeed led to major changes in where people spent their time and how they interacted with each other. These findings are based on the analysis of two distinct scenarios for reopening the economy.

our wake-up call

Harold Jarche

The complications of drills in England had been replaced by the complexity of war and the chaos of battle. Gary Klein noted that expertise has been compromised with this pandemic and that even evidence-based medicine is under stress in this environment due to the fast pace of change and the lack of understanding of this novel virus. We will need leaders who can also deal with complexity. The time to change is now, not when the next crisis strikes.

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Scenario Planning - Formulating Strategy in the Face of High Uncertainty

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Answering this question has never felt more urgent as leaders prepare for the future. “Even before the Covid-19 crisis, rapid technological change, growing economic interdependence, and mounting political instability had conspired to make the future increasingly murky.” Uncertainty was already all-encompassing. “How can we formulate strategy in the face of uncertainty?,” asks Learning from the Future , a recent Harvard Business Review article by Peter Scoblic , in its opening sentence.

Impact of an Aging Population on Economic Growth and Automation

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

But, in fact, this is not the case. “If anything, countries experiencing more rapid aging have grown more in recent decades… The lack of a strong negative association between changes in age structure and changes in GDP per capita is surprising. An analysis of data from various sources verifies these predictions. In all cases, the analysis showed statistically significant correlations.

“the future of work will be based on hacking uncertainty”

Harold Jarche

The Internet changes the patterns of connectivity. The unit of analysis is now communication and emergence, not entities. Esko said that in order to develop the necessary emergent practices to deal with complexity you need to first cultivate diversity and by this I would say the autonomy of each learner. Communities Complexity LearningIn spite of the criticism about social media, I still learn a lot from a platform like Twitter.

The Business Value of Augmented Reality

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

We generally think of products as physical entities built with a combination of mechanical and electrical components, - e.g., appliances, cars, agricultural machines, industrial equipment, - some quite simple and some highly complex. This is all now changing with the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) , cloud computing , Big Data , AI , and other innovations whose combined impact is driving the new era of smart connected products.

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Robocalypse Now? Technology, Productivity and Employment

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

At the same time, technological change increased the demand for other types of labor that were complementary to the capital goods embodied in the new technologies. But things can change,” said a 2014 Economist article. Details of their analysis can be found in the paper and presentation. Perhaps the most surprising - and yet simultaneously, pedestrian - takeaway from our analysis is that productivity growth is not the primary driver of rising or falling employment.

A Billion + Change = Shared Value for Corporations and Nonprofits

Beth Kanter

I had the privilege of attending an event for A Billion + Change , a national campaign to mobilize billions of dollars in skills-based and pro bono volunteer services to help build the capacity of nonprofit organizations to effectively meet community needs. Understanding the impact that the private sector can play in addressing complex social issues is critical, both to the success of businesses and nonprofits alike. Flickr Photo by kayaker1204. Guest post by Cindy Hallberlin.

AI and the Evolution of History

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

AI, in contrast, is able to prescribe its own objectives. “AI systems, through their very operations, are in constant flux as they acquire and instantly analyze new data, then seek to improve themselves on the basis of that analysis. How can we ensure that our increasingly complex AI systems do what we want them to do ? We’re all familiar with software bugs, especially bugs in highly complex software, which is the case with AI systems.

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The Myth of the Washed-Up, Middle-Age Entrepreneur

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Their analysis yielded around 350,000 potential high-growth firms. Further analysis showed that the forward 5-year multiples of their stock price tended to rise as they got older, with the peak coming at 48 for Jobs, 39 for Gates, 45 for Bezos, and 36 for Brin and Page. Complex Systems Economic Issues Education and Talent Innovation Management and Leadership Technology and Strategy