Big Data on the Menu

Understanding the Complexity of Your Diet When I was a diabetes nurse, the first question I would invariably get from a new client was, “What can I eat and what can’t I eat”. It was also the question I most hated because it was so complicated. We are both blessed and cursed that supermarkets have forty to fifty thousand different things we might eat and none of it will either guarantee health or kill us immediately. What we [...]

2020-01-08T09:40:29-05:00Complexity Matters|

When Avoiding Complexity is no Longer an Option!

 “Fostering the health of individuals, communities, organizations and our natural environment by helping people recognize, understand and use concepts emerging from the science of complexity.” The carefully crafted mission of Plexus Institute, a not-for-profit organization that was officially formed in 2001, still guides the primary work in the network, sharing knowledge and offering expertise through the continuing exploration of complexity in all our human systems, large and small. Our definition of “health” is broad, holistic, relative and [...]

2019-12-29T13:37:55-05:00Complexity Matters|

Age in the Classroom: Keep it Uniform or Mix it UP?

Age in the Classroom: Keep it Uniform or Mix it UP? Multi-age classrooms, often used today in programs for students whose special needs result from disabilities or advancement, began for practical rather than philosophical reasons. Through much of the Nineteenth Century and earlier, one-room school houses served communities across the country.  Youngsters of all ages, abilities and knowledge levels who lived within walking distance of the school came together under the guidance of a teacher who was expected [...]

Plexus Fractals

What is a Plexus Fractal? Plexus Fractals are self-organizing groups of people who want to get together face-to-face periodically to learn about complexity and its applications, share experience and problems, and network with others with similar interests. On a regular basis someone in the Plexus Network will ask, "Why don't we reboot local Fractals?" In the past, Plexus Fractals were hosted in cities across the US and Canada and were a popular way for members of the Plexus community [...]

2019-11-29T17:46:01-05:00Complexity Matters|

Stories in Action: Sharing Complexity Conversations

A hallmark of Plexus Institute for nearly 20 years has been the sharing of conversations focused on applied principles of complexity across the professional, scientific and academic fields. Through hundreds of PlexusCalls, anyone could listen to, learn from, and ask questions of leading thinkers, researchers, and practitioners working to influence and lead change in the most complex and challenging situations. Today, this Plexus tradition continues with ComPlexus Podcasts.  We are in the process of recording the first series [...]

2019-10-20T18:30:24-04:00Complexity Matters|

The Engineer and The Gardener: Management Science Versus Complexity Science

Let's Begin with Management Science The concept of management as a science has its origins in the aftermath of World War II. During that conflict the use of analytical disciplines drawn from operations research proved enormous useful in decision-making. After the war the hope was that the business use of operations research would form the basis for a science of management that used rational, evidence-based techniques and analytical methods to inform and improve decisions of all kinds. The result [...]

2019-08-14T13:07:58-04:00Complexity Matters|

Humans, Technology and Complexity: Perks and Perils and Ageless Questions

The crashes of two Boeing 737 Max jets that took the lives of 346 people in less than five months were preceded by a complex series of engineering, economic, corporate and regulatory decisions whose combined interplay contributed to tragic unintended consequences. The fallout from the two disasters in Indonesia and Ethiopia is no less complex. Government oversight responsibilities, corporate practices and the impact of intense airline business competition are under scrutiny as the investigations of [...]

Creating and Distributing Value – Where to Begin?

The complex topic of "value" in human systems is the focus of Chris Lawer’s current work at Umio where he explores the difficult-to-grasp and oft-debated concept of value, with a particular focus on health and care (eco)systems. Chris begins with the main theories of value that have emerged over two millennia of debate, and the two primary forms of value – exchange and use - which for more than two centuries, have underpinned the prevalent neo-classical economic view. He will [...]

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. When: April 15-17, 2019 Where: Washington, DC The conference is [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

2019-02-14T16:12:25-05:00Complexity Matters|

“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 [...]