Researchers + Practitioners = Social Good

What Happens When Researchers and Practitioners Connect to Advance Social Good in a Complex World? Plexus Institute is all too familiar with the failure of  social policies because outdated linear approaches are used to manage disruptive, emergent processes. The result can lead to  institutional disarray  and failure with direct consequences on the lives of individuals and their communities.​ CAPS 2019 is the 3rd International Conference on Complexity and Policy Studies. The conference is cross-disciplinary and brings together researchers, practitioners, and funders to explore the application of insights from the study of complex systems to public policy with a special emphasis

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Is Your Mind Playing Games?

Why are family reunions and holiday gatherings so often prone to free-floating angst, irrational episodes and inexplicable outbursts? Such eruptions may have origins that are utterly obscure or only dimly remembered, but complexity science can help us make sense of them. In his extraordinary book The Developing Mind, How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are, psychiatrist and scholar Daniel J. Siegel talks about the family not only as a complex system, but as a supersystem, composed of clusters of smaller complex systems made up of the relationships and interactions of individual family members. As if that

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Witness a Self Organizing System at Pebble Ledge Ranch

A zebra chasing bubbles, a pony drumming, horses helping people heal, leaders listening from within, a herd running free – just another day at Pebble Ledge Ranch. Meet Toby, grazing in the field. If you look closely, you’ll see Holly, the zebra, in the background of the photo above!  The herd at Pebble Ledge Ranch shifts and changes with the cycle of the moment, the cycle of life, the cycle of nature.  These horses are not kept to ride and live as naturally as possible at the Ranch, interacting with each other and humans – knowing their role in the

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“The Commons Project” Moving Toward a Feasibility Study

Over the past several months, Plexus Catalyst Mike Taylor engaged a diverse network of individuals, institutions and groups representing four continents and a variety of professional talents to support further development of our newest project “The Commons.” The next step is to create the strategy for a feasibility study which will seek funding and the launch of a pilot. By engaging large groups of people in a self-organized process, The Commons platform will allow participants to see the direct impact of individual and collective choices on local and global health ecosystems/environments by leveraging digital interaction and open engagement. The Commons Projecthas reached out to professionals from the social, environmental,

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Parrots Think Like….

Scientists keep discovering important traits in animals that were once considered exclusively human.  So when you hear references to bird brains, think about how our behavioral connection to parrots offers insights into addressing large scale social and environmental issues. A New York Times story by Natalie Angier reports researchers who study parrots report these birds rival great apes and dolphins in intellect and resourcefulness, and may be the only creatures, other than humans, capable of dancing to a beat.  Parrots  belong to the avian order Psittaciformes, which has 360 species including  parakeets, macaws and cockatoos. Dr. Irene Pepperberg, the  Harvard animal

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Conversations to Reduce the Discord in Our Country: Better Angels

This article was written by Plexus Network member Nancy Dixon, whose work focuses on the people side of knowledge management. “Our most effective knowledge sharing tool is conversation. The words we choose, the questions we ask, and the metaphors we use to explain ourselves, are what determine our success in creating new knowledge, as well as sharing that knowledge with each other.” Like many others, I have been sorely troubled by the level of disrespect in our public conversations. For that reason, I’ve become associated with an organization that is trying to do something about it, Better Angels. I feel positive about

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For the Good of the Hive

“The health of a honey bee is based on the health of the hive, not the individual bee. Collective action is necessary for growth and expansion. Humans are the same way, although we rarely act like it. Many of the issues we face today are not divided by borders. In fact, bee health or pollination issues are more likely to be solved by transcending them.” Matthew Willey When Melissa Stephenson, a Plexus Catalyst  shared information about the New Hampshire Honey Bee Initiative, a community wide project she is leading with artist Kin Schilling, it seemed like the perfect topic for

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Why Bees Fascinate Us

Bees and humans have been closely associated for a millennia. We have been fascinated by bees ever since our ancient ancestors tasted honey. Scientists have a wealth of knowledge about bees, their behavior and their extraordinary social organization, but mysteries remain. Researchers believe the mapping of the bee genome may hold clues to how inborn and environmental factors interact to influence what genes actually do in the brain to regulate behavior. In December 2004, Gene Robinson, wrote a  compelling New York Times Op-Ed,  that prompt us in 2018 to think about the importance and interdependence of all players in the earth’s

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Dancing with the Bees

It’s not only humans who derive symbolic meaning from dance. Honeybees use dance to tell each other about flowers and nectar and the best places to find them. In an extraordinary ritual known as the “waggle dance”, a scout bee finds a rich flower patch, sips some nectar, and then flies home. She (and it’s always a she) lights on the vertical surface of the honeycomb, near the nest entrance where she will have an audience, and dances a repeated figure eight. The way she waggles her body announces the direction of the food, its distance from the hive, and

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The Adaptive Space Imperative

How does your organization address the threat of “disruption”? This question has become a mainstay of most strategic conversations, in large part because the conditions for entire industries, social, economic and certainly business systems are being broken apart, thrown into disorder and prevented from functioning as they always have. In Michael Arena’s new book Adaptive Space: How GM and Other Companies are Positively Disrupting Themselves and Transforming into Agile Organizations the former Plexus Board Chair shares insights and practical applications of complexity thinking in today’s most competitive business systems. The best way for any company to unleash creative potential from

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