Category Archives: Complexity Matters

We’re Smarter with People Whose World Views Differ

We’re Also More Diligent and Thoughtful Researchers say we try harder, make better decisions and achieve more when we work in groups that have racial, ethnic and gender diversity. A Scientific American story by Katherine Phillips describes research showing that scientists, businesses, banks, juries and groups collaborating to solve problems do a better job when people from diverse viewpoints and life experiences come together. People who differ from each other bring differing information, perspectives and

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Leadership Lessons from the Birds and the Bees

Communication, Decisions and Smart Swarms – A Different Set of Rules The Digital Age is challenging all our assumptions about the ways we work together as the Internet transforms the world into an interconnected network that was inconceivable a mere 20 years ago. While the technology revolution continues to expand the power of our possibilities, it also brings with it an unprecedented combination of accelerating change and escalating complexity that is severely testing the limits

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Fractal Fields and Self Organization:These Commons Aren’t Tragic

Water Temples Sustain Intricate Systems Balinese farmers who maintain their ancient terraced rice fields and self organized networks of villagers cooperating in an intricate system of irrigation and shared decisions achieve rare successes. Without central planning, their planting practices create fractal patterns of growing that promote resilience and optimal harvests. The collective water systems are known as subaks, which are made up of forest that protect the water supply, the terraced landscape and rice fields

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Values, Culture and Learning Climate Science  

If students come from families who are deeply skeptical about climate change, how can a teacher provide instruction on climate science while simultaneously acknowledging their values? The Idaho State Legislature in February voted to eliminate reference to climate sciencefrom the state’s new science curriculum. Surveys show fewer than half the adults in Kootenai County, where Coeur D’Alene’s Lake City High School is located, think that humans contribute to global warming. A Washington Post story by Sarah Kaplandescribes

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Biology & Education Out of Sync for Teens

‘Their Body Clocks are in Some Time Zone West of Us’ When children enter puberty, their circadian rhythms change, which means early school start times maybe turning many of them into sleep-deprived zombies prone to moodiness and sub-par academic performance. As long schools start when kids need to be asleep, says sleep researcher Mary Carskadon, teenagers on average may be consigned to “social jet lag” in which the timing of life is not the timing

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It’s Only Weird the first Time: How Curiosity and Courage Expand Possibility!

During the week, Dr. Michelle Carnes is a public health anthropologist in American Indian and LGBTQ youth suicide prevention, cultural preservation and restoration.  On weekends, she eats fire. And escapes rope ties. And swallows swords. Michelle Carnes’ evolution to professional sideshow stuntress is rooted in her own resolve to conquer fear. At first, it’s hard to get past the fear, she said. “When the fire is coming at your face, a part of you says

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What is Adaptive Positive Deviance?

Adaptive Positive Deviance is a powerful way to make big improvements through small (and maybe a few large) changes.  For over a decade,  Plexus Institute has helped guide organizations and communities to see, understand and address the “sticky” and complex issues hampering success. Plexus’s work emphasizes practical methods and practices that are based on principles of complexity to disrupt the status quo and find solutions. Adaptive Positive Deviance (APD) The  Adaptive Positive Deviance framework is

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‘Works of Bricolage,’ Sideshows, and Survival

‘Works of Bricolage,’ Sideshows, and Survival When Lucille Conlin Horn was born in 1920, a fragile infant weighing only two pounds, she was not expected to live. Her twin sister died. But Lucille Horn did live for nearly a century, with a career, marriage and five children. Her survival is part of an extraordinary story of the wonderful, surprising and sometimes wrenching ways that innovations are introduced, resisted, and travel in unexpectedly circuitous routes before eventual adoption.

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Why Does Complexity Matter?

When the solutions to complex problems transcend traditional questions and answers! Plexus Institute was founded with the purpose to address real-world challenges through the understanding, advancement and diffusion of ideas and practices rooted in the principles of complexity. The original mission chosen by the founders of Plexus Institute was inspired by the rapid pace of complex systems science and the slow pace of converting those discoveries into practical applications. By remaining dedicated to fostering profound and

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