Complexity

Noah Effects, Joseph Effects

Complex systems still largely remain a mystery. Benoit Mandelbrot gave us new language to describe the deep subtleties of these systems — some of which are reflected in this article. We can no longer entertain the illusion that we are in control. We can, however, become more adept in dealing with complexity. ISN works with…

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The Nature of Change

Complexity is a signature characteristic of nature that challenges our ability to stay in control.  We are confronted more than ever by the reality there is no guarantee when we try to make change that our actions will have the intended results. Organizations need to be able to deal with turbulence – staying alert to…

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Engaging With Complex Systems

Messes Russell Ackoff – an iconic pioneer in systems thinking – called them messes.”[N]o problem ever exists in complete isolation,” he wrote in Redesigning the Future: A Systems Approach to Societal Problems (1974). “Every problem interacts with every other problem and is therefore part of a set of interrelated problems, a system of problems. Furthermore,…

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The Acceleration of Everything

We often talk these days about accelerating change, but it is extraordinary to look back on all that has happened in the last two hundred years. This is a brief overview of that incredible journey. The Nineteenth Century Human ingenuity soared in unprecedented ways in the 1800s, creating new technologies that changed virtually every aspect…

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Tremors of Change

Physicist Per Bak experimented with complex systems by dropping sand on a table, one small grain at a time. As grains accumulated the pile became steeper. Then avalanches started to occur. Bak recorded their size and analyzed the pattern. The distribution followed a power law — a long-tailed curve that also describes the size distribution…

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Playing a Game Without Rules

Calvinball Cartoonist Bill Watterson drew the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip for a decade, from 1985 to 1995. At the height of its popularity the strip ran in more than 2,400 newspapers, featuring the hijinks of Calvin, a young boy, and Hobbes, his stuffed tiger. Calvinball was Calvin and Hobbes’s favorite game. Here are some…

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