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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