Accessible Complexity Resources? 😵💫
Trying to make progress on New Ways of Working without an understanding of Complexity is a bit like trying to reach the moon without understanding maths or gravity - we really won’t get very far! Sadly, I’ve noticed that accessible resources on this critical part of the puzzle are in short supply.
So I’m on the lookout for the best 101/introductory Complexity resources. Can you point me in the direction of helpful, ideally bite-size resources that can be understood by people who are new to the topic? I’m seeking:
Videos as clear as this (4 mins).
Podcasts as wonderful as this one (7 mins).
Articles as accessible as this (3 mins).
While Complexity theory can be tricky for many of us to get our heads around, it really is crucial that we do! This is because our organisations are complex, unpredictable systems, and the vast majority of leaders treat them as linear, orderly, predictable systems. This is highly problematic and a massive waste of time and energy. If only we could predict the workings of our organisations in the way we can predict the workings of a clock or an industrial assembly line. Alas, we cannot, and this is because there are different types of systems - some are predictable, others are not.
Spoiler: it is virtually impossible for leaders and ‘experts’ to predict or control most events.
Our organisations are unpredictable because they are complex systems and it is the nature of complex systems that they cannot be predicted or controlled; this is non-negotiable. Other complex systems include nations, cats, climate, toddlers and teams. At best, applying linear solutions to complex problems will have a neutral outcome, though it is more likely it will be harmful. So we shouldn’t treat our organisations or teams like a clock or an engineering problem and we must stop doing so. By starting to learn a little more about this thing called ‘Complexity’ and how best to interact with complex systems like organisations and teams.
Leadership is much simpler when we understand the nature of the system we are working with.
Until we acknowledge that our teams and organisations are complex systems, it’s going to be hard work getting out of our current workplace pickle. This is why I am searching for accessible Complexity resources. It’s a challenging subject indeed, but think about Brian Cox making the universe fun and easy to understand for kids. Or Headspace demystifying meditation for your tie-dye-fearing nan. And School of Life making Socrates engaging for folk who aren’t fussed about philosophy. Complexity can be accessible too and it has to be if we want to make progress on the biggest challenges of our time.
So please share any helpful Complexity content that you’ve come across, and any ideas on how to make this tricky topic more accessible. I will collate the fruits and send them out in the new year. Meanwhile, here’s a starter for ten that I hope will grow over time and become more useful to those who are new to the topic.
Complexity Learning Community? 🤓
I am Complexity curious, not a Complexity expert, and would love to continue learning alongside others. So I’m considering starting a Complexity Learning Community that will meet regularly to learn together. Would you be interested to join me? If so let me know and I will keep you posted of any developments.
If you’re keen to begin now, here is my favourite starting point (4 mins). Let me know what you think:
🙏 That’s it for the New Ways of Working newsletter this year. Thanks so much for subscribing and have a lovely Christmas. See you in 2023! 🎄