Looking for past Complexity Matters posts?

Complexity Matters posts from 2013 - 2016 are available here.

A Moment of Complexity

At pivotal moments throughout history, technological innovation triggers massive social and cultural transformation. Apparently unrelated developments, which had been gradually unfolding for years, suddenly converge to create changes that are as disruptive as they are creative. We are currently living in a moment of extraordinary complexity when systems and structures that have long organized life are changing at an unprecedented rate. Such rapid and pervasive change creates the need to develop new ways of understanding the world and of interpreting our experience. Mark C. Taylor I have found myself referring to Mark Taylor’s book The Moment of Complexity: Emerging Network

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Artists and Systems, a Relationship – #plexusdrawn

Artists. Hearing the word artist conjures a myriad of ideas, assumptions and perspectives about artists. Each of us has our own understanding of what an artist is and does based on our experiences, education and feelings. Part of why people have many perspectives on what artists do, how they do it and ultimately who they are is because artists have the capacity to hold tension (opposing views) since they are taught to see differing perspectives in a non-judgemental way – a skill absent from most other fields. There are many types of artists and many types of art. Imagine bringing

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The Art of “Revealing” Complex Systems – #plexusdrawn

A New Language for Understanding and Working in Complex Systems Emerges As practitioners of complexity visualization and thinking, we simply look at complex environments differently. What we do is make the invisible visual — we help reveal through imagery the unique properties of Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS),  the parts, the whole and the greater whole, so our clients can see where they fit into their systems. Plexus Catalysts and Visual Facilitators Barb Siegel and Amanda Lyons are creating a catalog of visual prompts and tools for conversations around applying complexity science to human systems. We draw out what it feels like

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Nursing, Complexity and the Science of Compassion 

Ten years ago Plexus Institute published a groundbreaking book on the highly complex profession of nursing, On the Edge: Nursing in the Age of Complexity. This book presented the first comprehensive examination of topical nursing issues from a Complexity Science perspective. Complexity Science scholars and nurse leaders explored key Complexity Science principles and the profound implications they hold for clinical practice, leadership, nursing theory development, research, policy making, and understanding human physiology. The pace of change in the practice of nursing, emerging new roles, as well as heightened emphasis on patient safety, healthcare quality and cost management shine the spotlight on

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Why REAL Dialogue is Generative

A Generative “Dialogue” leads to discovery of new ideas, behaviors, practices and unanticipated sources of value that could not have been predicted in advance. A generative process can nurture and guide the birth of new ways of thinking and doing. Generative Dialogue is not just clever wordsmithing, it is an intentional and co-creative engagement that delivers on the promise that the combined interactions of individuals produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of an individual’s actions. The work of Lorenz and Natasha Sell, co-founders of Sutra, is focused on transforming the process and experiences of online engagements.

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Introducing #plexusdrawn

Hello there! It’s Barb and Amanda. Great to be here. We’re excited to be blogging together with Plexus as we’ve both been a big part of the revitalized Plexus Network. The connections we’ve made at Plexus events and through the Plexus network have been incredible on so many levels. Forget simply being colleagues, we’ve become great friends with many folks through the network and find the high level of work that this crew does (applying complexity science to our world) awe-inspiring. Our guess is that if you know how complexity changes the conversation, you therefore know what it’s like to

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Compassion Changes How We Act and React

How we act when confronted with significant disruption – fear, anger, loss and grief — influences the long term health and resilience of both individuals  and groups. Consider how responding with compassion leads to new patterns of actions and reactions in the face of disruptive experiences. Dr. Helen Weng, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California–San Francisco, with faculty appointments at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine and Neuroscape Center led a team of researchers at the University of Wisconsin who studied the development of compassionate thinking in adults. The study in psychologicalscience.org describes how one group was taught “compassion meditation,” adapted from Buddhist loving-kindness meditation. Participants

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Urge for Closure Misses Opportunities for the Future

We are standing at the crossroads in a VUCA world – an acronym that stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. Ambiguity and confusion can be stressful, but social psychologists say a pressing need for certitude can lead to all sorts of misconceptions and bad decisions. How do we take actions that leave room for both successful closure and opportunities for the next smart step? Jamie Holmes, the author of Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing, argues we’d all be better off if we learned to embrace uncertainty and be less intent on finding immediate answers for every question. In an interview

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The ‘Anternet’—Ancient and Cutting Edge

Harvester Ants Increase Knowledge about Networked Systems Deborah Gordon, a Stanford biology professor who has studied ants for 20 years, found something extraordinarily sophisticated about the way harvester ants forage for food. She discovered that the ant colonies regulate their foraging activities based on the amount of food available and the amount of time it takes for a round trip between the nest and the food. Gordon recognized that this particular ant behavior approximates the way the Internet works, so she invited Stanford Computer Science Professor Balaji Prabhakar to have a look. Their collaboration is described in a Stanford News

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Tiny Teams Move Mighty Masses

Ants Are Model for Tiny Powerful Robots Researchers have developed a team of robot that can apply tiny amounts of force in concert to move objects thousands of times their own weight. The team members are six microrobots weighing a mere 3.5 ounces together, and they can pull car that weighs more two tons.  The micro-robots, modeled after ants, are so tiny their pieces had to be put together with tweezers. The car is the one that researcher David Christensen uses to commute to the Biomimetics and Dexterous Manipulation Laboratory on the Stanford University campus. Christensen told The New York

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