Looking for past Complexity Matters posts?

Complexity Matters posts from 2013 - 2016 are available here.

DRAW OUT COMPLEXITY, the Curious Art of Visual Communication and Facilitation

Visualizing and drawing can help us think and communicate, especially when it comes to complexity. Amanda Lyons, is a visual practitioner. “I was excited to find complexity as I could see the amazing impact visuals can have in complex situations. Whether trying to understand something deeply myself or communicate it with others, visuals are my vehicle of choice.” Amanda is a Plexus Catalyst, and her work brings an important new perspective to how we engage with complexity. Visuals allow Amanda to see juxtapositions and hold oppositions in ways that allow her to understand and see more. According to Amanda, “Drawing

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Not All Rules are the Same

A recent discussion on LinkedIn in the Harvard Business Review Group asked, “Wouldn’t it be great if managing a team was as easy as herding sheep?” Several comments opposed the comparison of people to sheep but there are important insights for influencing pattern-based change in teams and organizations through understanding the self-organizing behaviors that arise from the interaction of individual agents (birds, bees and humans) when they adhere to a set of Simple Rules. The concept of simple rules is a key component of complexity science. One of the distinguishing features of a complex system is the system-wide patterns that

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We’re All FLUXed

Understanding the Dynamics of Disruptive Experience…to Achieve Optimal Response Written by: Bruce Waltuck and Denise Easton A new series of blog posts will focus on how Plexus network members and clients build on and apply principles of complexity in innovative new ways. In this post, written by Plexus Catalysts Denise Easton and Bruce Waltuck, they describe their ongoing research and work about how Self-Organization and Emergence – two fundamental aspects of Complex Adaptive Systems – result in new insights about the Dynamics of Disruptive Experiences, and how they help people develop optimal Adaptive Response Capacities to improve outcomes in uncertainty. 

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Complexity in Healthcare: Will you know it when you see it?

The rise in awareness of the principles of complexity continues to be both a boon and a problem for many scientific disciplines, resulting in intense discussions about how best to integrate this method of scientific discovery with established practices. The major divisions in the development and application of “complexity informed” models and tools have been between the legitimacy of mathematics versus conceptual models both for discovery and proof. This divergence of approaches in clearly evident in the field of healthcare; mathematics is firmly holding sway on the side of disease and infirmity with a predominantly conceptual approach on the organizational

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Complexity Matters: A Re-Introduction to Complexity

“Scientific knowledge, originally seen to make possible the prediction and manipulation of nature, appears now to be pointing us toward a new relationship with the natural world based on sensitive observation and participation, rather than control.” Brian Goodwin   During 2018, Plexus Institute’s Thursday Complexity Matters posts will continue to offer stories, new thinking, research and practices related to complexity in action. And, we will also be sharing fundamentals of “complexity” by reviewing the language, distinctions and metaphors that define complexity. What does it mean? How do we talk about it? How can we see and understand it? Where does science

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Complexity Science Reframes Healthcare For Women and Everyone Else!

In an early PlexusCall (September, 2003) guests Birute Regine, Eileen Hoffman and Justina Trott held a wide ranging conversation that explored how the distinctions in the “nature” of women aligned with the theory and insights of complexity science to human systems. “The system becomes more complex when you bring your whole self into it. For women who need to have their stories told and understood, that changes the whole dynamic of the profession of medicine, and the dynamic of the human relationship in any personal experience.´  Justina Trott The Back Story The story of how the transcript of the PlexusCall,

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Where Will Your Story Lead Plexus?

Gathering and sharing stories is a human behavior both ancient and universal.  Our stories express our understanding even of the most complex situations; reflect our core values; and articulate our intentions for future action. Story telling is also one of the most enduring tools available to every person and every organization regardless of specific social, economic or cultural contexts. In the HBR article, The Irrestible Power of Storytelling as a Strategic Business Tool, author Harrison Monarth understands that “stories” add measurable value when integrated into wide ranging initiatives including research, employee and customer engagement programs, change management strategies and marketing. “Strategic

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Managing in a Complex Environment: Applying Complexity Theory and Outcome Management to Global Problems

From Marc Narkus-Kramer a Plexus Catalyst and Plexus Institute board member.  My interest in Plexus began when I was working at the MITRE Corporation and experienced the power of complexity thinking and practice that Plexus introduced to a project.  I recently retired from MITRE and decided to explore how to build a process for organizational understanding and implementation of an integrated method of using complexity as a guiding principle for outcome management. I recognize how projects and conversations that include both complexity practices and applications of outcome management tools have been successful in addressing problems in an identified “system” (for

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Liberating Structures: The APP is Here

Plexus Institute has been the incubator for an impressive flow of research and applications centered on addressing “complexity” in organizations and human system. Keith McCandless and Henri Lipmanowicz  began working as partners to develop Liberating Structures when they shared a hunch that complexity science had practical applications and could be accessible to everyone.  Keith’s interest in transformational learning and planning methods clicked with Henri’s business acumen as they fielded early prototypes. Over twelve years, their work has grown into a powerful repertoire for people making change.  They have cut across academic disciplines, tapped spiritual practices, roamed the planet, and deepened scientific

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COMPlexus Stories

What’s Your Story? Gathering and sharing stories is a human behavior both ancient and universal.  Our stories express our understanding even of the most complex situations; reflect our core values; and articulate our intentions for future action. For more than 15 years, the Plexus Institute has been a leading source of learning about, and applying the understanding of complexity to community and business challenges around the world.  But like any living system, Plexus has a lifecycle that has evolved and changed over time. Even as ways of organizing and working from the past may fade, we are working together to

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