10 January 2011

The Value of Complexity Thinking

From an editorial by Dr. Jean Boulton, Visiting Fellow at Cranfield School of Management and Managing Director of Claremont Management Consultants in the UK, to appear in a forthcoming special issue of Emergence: Complexity and Organization on Policy and Climate change:
So what has complexity thinking to offer? One of the great difficulties in answering this question is that the question itself is framed within a reductive, Newtonian, machine paradigm. We want complexity thinking to give us answers and solid ways forwards because we believe that optimal solutions and predictable outcomes exist. Part of what complexity thinking has to offer is that is gives ample evidence that the future, whilst not being random, indeed being path-dependent, is nevertheless not predictable. There are often turning points where the future may evolve in more than one direction; the future is a complex product of the past, mitigated by chance and by choices; where different decisions in seemingly different spheres interact and mutually affect each other. So, whilst we might not like the picture it presents, complexity thinking emphasises interconnectedness and dynamic change and emphasises the limits to predictability and indeed to knowledge. And there is an argument to say that if we accept the reality of this, we may indeed do a better job of developing policy and creating processes.
It seems to me that there is an opportunity to focus learning, organization, social enterprise, and policy development in a context of complexity thinking, emphasizing diverse sustainability among cultural, ecological, and built environments, and resilience in the face of the inherent unpredictability of seeming intractable problems of our world.

Someone should create such a place.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One attempt at creating such a space is at femmefractal.com or googling "Tsunami Chaos Global Heart" a book available free on the web, subtitled "using complexity science to rethink and make a better world."

VS Rambihar Toronto.