Systems thinking & complexity

Dave Snowden

The pioneering work of Prigogine and others which gives us complexity theory happens in the middle of that century. It was a characteristic of that period of development that the complexity of system would be resolved by engineering design, often bottom up, or definition of specific outcomes.

Understanding complexity

Harold Jarche

But the old Latin question is apposite here: quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Thinking of complex adaptive systems as merely complicated entities that can be regulated like machines can lead to disaster, as Niall Ferguson shows in his recent book. Human systems are complex.

Trending Sources

Managing in Complexity

Harold Jarche

As our markets and technologies get more complex, we need new models to get work done. However, complex systems are not fully knowable, though they can be partially understood through interaction with them. Complex problems cannot be solved alone. complexity Wirearchy Work

Intervening in a complex domain

Dave Snowden

A good conversation in Moscow this morning with David Anderson around and about the issue of managing a complex system and as is the way with discussion a half formed idea or two coalesced. Then we have three basic questions: (i) what can I change? (ii)

Organize for Complexity

Harold Jarche

” Well I think Niels has answered much of that question himself, in his recent book Organize for Complexity. We call this “disciplined practice” Fads like business analytics, knowledge management, and big data will never make organizations fit for complexity.

Re-wiring for the Complex Workplace

Harold Jarche

Complexity is the new normal. For example, the company’s vision will be established at the board level, but individual workers will be far removed from it. Re-wiring for complexity. Organizations need to understand complexity instead of adding more complication.

Design Principles for Complex, Unpredictable, People Oriented Systems

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

An IBM Global CEO Study conducted in 2010 concluded that complexity was the primary challenge emerging out of its conversations with 1,500 CEOs and senior government officials. CEOs told us they operate in a world that is substantially more volatile, uncertain and complex. Over the past several years, we have seen a rising emphasis on design, creativity and holistic thinking in business to help us deal with an increasingly volatile, unpredictable complex world.

System 109

Preparing Students for an Increasingly Complex Business World

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Are engineering and management schools adequately preparing students for our fast-changing, highly complex business world? For example, a 2007 study on MBA education found significant gaps between the competencies companies are looking for, and what students are taught in business schools.

Social Learning, Complexity and the Enterprise

Harold Jarche

It is a world where the capability to find information and turn it into knowledge at the point-of-need provides the key competitive advantage, where knowing the right people to ask the right questions of is more likely to lead to success than any amount of internally-held knowledge and skill.

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 concept of wave-particle duality explains that reality depends on what question you are asking and what experiment you perform to answer the question. players, is an example of such a system.

Strategy Made Simple - The 3 Core Strategy Questions

John Hagel

In increasingly turbulent and complex times, we understandably fall prey to a dangerous temptation – both as institutions and individuals. The option is to focus more than ever on three core strategy questions that can help provide us with focus and stability even as the turbulence increases around us – and help us to prioritize where we need to respond and where we don’t. This is a relatively new, but increasingly important, strategic question.  Here’s an example.

Some Puzzling Questions about Innovation in the Digital Economy

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Teaching forces you to take a fresh look at the subjects you are covering, so I find myself revisiting questions I’ve long been thinking about: What is the essence of innovation in the digital economy and how does it differ from the industrial age innovation of the past two hundred years?

The Science of Complex Systems

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

When I look back over my long, relatively eclectic career, complex systems have been a common theme in all the activities I’ve been involved in. It started in the 1960s, when I was an undergraduate and graduate student at the University of Chicago majoring in physics, - the study of complex natural systems. The research for my thesis was focused on the highly complex world of atoms and molecules.

Five Key Questions

Stephen Downes: Half an Hour

I was asked to provide some initial recommendations for that initiative, in the form of responses to five questions. In essence, education and educational services represent one of the largest examples of the value-add online services distribution model. As one small example, the e-textbook market, which was 1.5

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

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

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?

Managing Complex, Disruptive Innovations - Some Lessons Learned

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

You cannot answer lots of the questions people will have, both inside and outside the organization. . The answers to these questions and the ensuing actions you take are likely to be critical to the future of the business.

The Collapse of Complex Business Models ? Clay Shirky

Clay Shirky

The Times’ Paywall and Newsletter Economics » The Collapse of Complex Business Models. From the Q&A after, it was clear that for them, the question wasn’t whether the internet was going to alter their business, but about the mode and tempo of that alteration. That kind of question comes up a lot. In 1988, Joseph Tainter wrote a chilling book called The Collapse of Complex Societies. At this point, any additional complexity is pure cost.

Design thinking & complexity pt 2

Dave Snowden

For the moment I want to look at some of the implications for design thinking, reinterpreted through a complexity lens; shifting from a linear process to a non-linear dynamic. Mind-Body cartesian dualism, Newtonian Physics and many other assumptions underpin the dominant ways of thinking in western society (and elsewhere) and as commonly understood design thinking does not avoid the trap; namely asking the wrong questions.

Questioning Pedagogy

Stephen Downes: Half an Hour

Thus learning (and pedagogy) as I see it is more about the development or creations of capacities (such as the capacity to learn, capacity to reason, capacity to communicate, etc) where these capacities are (again) not 'subjects' but rather complex developments of neural structures - more like 'mental muscles' than anything else. We become, for example, more mentally agile by analyzing and creating arguments (as opposed to by remembering arguments).

Protect your head – the world is complex

Mind Hacks

The British Medical Journal has a fascinating editorial on the behavioural complexities behind the question of whether cycling helmets prevent head injuries. For example, sailors wearing life jackets may try more risky maneuvers as they feel ‘safer’ if they get into trouble.

Corporate Survival: Lessons from Biology

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Let’s take a closer look at the nature of complex adaptive systems. Why are these systems so complex? I found the most satisfying answer to this seemingly Socratic question in an excellent 2002 paper - Complexity and Robustness - by professors Jean Carlson and John Doyle.

Global Trends and Business Strategy

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Major trends involve competing complex forces interacting with each other, making it even more difficult to ascertain where things are heading. Leaders reaching for these opportunities will need to question their own assumptions and imagine new possibilities.

AI, Automation and the US Economy

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

I t’s very hard to come up with precise answers to these questions. Self-driving vehicles, for example, will lead to new careers in transportation engineering and urban planning.

Data 124

Reflections from Stanford Nonprofit Management Institute: New Skills for a Complex World

Beth Kanter

It also will change the types of skill sets that nonprofits will need now and into the future, for example “Data Analysts.”

The Rise of the Platform Economy

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

These are among the questions addressed in in a recent report, The Rise of the Platform Enterprise: A Global Survey led by Peter Evans and Annabelle Gawer and sponsored by the Center for Global Enterprise. What do we mean by a platform ?

Survey 121

Becoming a 21st Century Digital Tinkerer

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

But, as noted in his personal website , his chief occupation is Chief of Confusion,“ helping people ask the right questions , trying to make a difference through my work- speaking, writing, teaching.” . Recombinant innovations, remixes and mashups are all examples of creating new contexts.

Learning to Apply Data Science to Business Problems

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

But more important for the students, the various A-Lab projects served as a concrete learning experience on what data science is all about, - how to leverage messy, incomplete, real-world data to shed light on a complex and not-so-well-defined problem.

Data 104

The Datafication of Business and Society

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Complex Systems Data Science and Big Data Digital Money and Payments Economic Issues Innovation Management and Leadership Society and Culture Technology and Strategy

Data 126

Visualization for Understanding

Harold Jarche

Visualization can be a very powerful tool in sharing complex knowledge. Adding value to the information in our fields helps make our knowledge networks smarter and this is how we can collectively deal with more complex problems. Value Network Analysis (example) by Patti Anklam.

PKM 124

Technological Unemployment and the Future of Work

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

This question has been widely discussed for years, but, - at the end of the day, - we don’t really have good answers. So do white-collar, information-based activities like accounting, record keeping, dealing with simple customer service questions, and many kinds of administrative tasks.

Is There a STEM Crisis or a STEM Surplus?

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

In 2005, for example, the National Innovation Initiative listed “Build the Base of Scientists and Engineers” as one of its top recommendations, noting that “unless the United States takes swift action, the demand for S&E talent will far outstrip supply.

Data 77

What’s the Value of Blockchain?

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Such real-world use cases are particularly important when introducing a new, complex set of technologies in the marketplace. Suppliers, for example, assume that when products are shipped their task is over and they will soon be paid.

The Rise of the T-Shaped Organization

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

For example, a recent paper by Harvard professor David Deming showed that labor markets have been rewarding individuals with strong social skills , that is, with interpersonal skills that facilitate interactions and communications with others.

Network Era Fluency

Harold Jarche

For example, United Breaks Guitars, a video that gave a whack on the side of the head to United Airlines, adversely affected United’s stock price. For individuals, the core skill is critical thinking, or questioning all assumptions, including one’s own.

The Coming Robotics Revolution

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

We need something like a robot compiler “that could take a particular specification - for example, I want a robot to tidy up the room - and compute a robot design, a fabrication plan, and a custom programming environment for using the robot.” .

Why Do We Need Data Science when We’ve Had Statistics for Centuries?

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

This year, for example, NYU is offering two new degrees, - a general Master in Data Science , and a more domain-specific Master in Applied Urban Science and Informatics. . Such a capability is powerful since we often do not know what question to ask.” .

The Future of the Globally Integrated Enterprise

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Competitive pressures forced every enterprise to examine its operations, asking simple questions like why processes and practices were different from country to country, and why it was necessary to have different departments performing the same set of tasks in each country.

The Growing Importance of Storytelling in the Business World

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Over the years I’ve learned that when trying to explain a complex new concept or product, it’s important to engage in a kind-of conversation with your intended audience, where you talk about what's in your mind, your questions, your doubts, what you know and what you don't know.

Intervention Design: Overcoming Stiff Resistance to a New, Disruptive Innovation

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

With four articles on the subject, HBR ’s overriding message is that design is no longer just for physical products, being increasingly applied to customer experiences, innovation, business strategy, and complex problem solving. .

books in perpetual beta

Harold Jarche

It questions the status quo of how organizations are structured in order to get work done. The future of valued, human work is in collaboratively addressing complex problems and coming up with creative solutions. We are seeing growing complexity both inside and outside the enterprise.

eBook 101