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Simplicity on the Other

Side of Complexity

An Introduction to
Complexity
Science and Management
I. Introductions and
Purpose

 Introductions
 Faculty
 Staff
 Special Guests
Our Purpose
 To build understanding of
& confidence in using
complexity principles and
practices
Who Is In The Room?
Connection Before Content

 Find a “strange attractor”

 “Exercise or Exorcism?”
II. How This Workshop Will Be
Different

 Structured Improvisation
 Many activities may seem paradoxical: structured
with simple rules that draw out insight; familiar and
fundamentally different
 We will rely on emergence as well as formal
methods
 We intend to have serious fun (and surprises) as we
learn!
 We will work at three levels throughout the day:
transferring information, skill building, and mental
model shifting
L e a r n in g A t T h r e e L e v e ls
M e n ta l M o d e l
S h ift &
K n o w le d g e
C r e a tio n

S k ill o r
C o m p e te n c y
y
lexit
B u ild in g
Learning Objectives

omp
ee of C C o lla b o r a tiv e
eg r
D T e c h n o lo g ie s

In te r a c tiv e
I n fo r m a tio n
T e c h n o lo g ie s
T r a n s fe r

D is trib u tio n
T e c h n o lo g ie s
In s tr u c to r /E x p e r t L e a rn e r T e a m , P a r tn e r s h ip o r
C e n te r e d C e n te r e d C o m m u n ity C e n te r e d

A d a p t e d f r o m L o t u s I n s t it u t e

D e liv e r y A p p r o a c h
The Illuminating, Profound
Poetry of Complexity
 Language can be used for poetry or prose. In a poem, the meaning
of words is far more dense. That is, each word may carry several
meanings; and a sentence as a whole may carry an enormous
density of interlocking meanings… together they illuminate the
whole from multiple perspectives.
 The more dense and embedded -- the more breadth and depth --
the more profound a poem can become.
 Like poetry, this complexity course strings together many patterns
in words, images & experience. Within the embedded patterns or
fractals, we hope you will find simplicity illuminated… and
linked directly to multiple levels of your experience.
 We hope for illumination both in the larger patterns in which your
work is embedded (our ecology & economy) and the smaller
patterns that are embedded in it (day-to-day activities).
Creative Illumination
The poet’s eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from
earth to heaven,
And, as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them into shapes, and gives to airy
nothing
A local habitation and name.

William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream


Bridging Polarities
We will move from Either/Or to “Yes, And”
Thinking
Complexity Simplicity

Clockware Swarmware

Design Emergence

Integrate Differentiate

Operate Innovate

Include Transcend

Reduce Variation Let go of control

Paradox frames the door to life. Charles Johnson


Workshop Agenda & Rules
 See Agenda for details
 Lunch & break times will be set as we go
 Take responsibility for your own learning; vote
with your feet during interactive sessions
 Expect to be provoked, challenged and
surprised -- complexity turns convention on its
head
 Please turn off cellular phone and beepers
 Try to keep your “stuff” collected. We will be
moving about the room
 Phones and bathrooms are...
How We Will Measure
Success

Purpose Information Relationship


Shifting Flowing Deepening

 See Handout
III. Seeing Through A
Complexity Lens
Inspiration from
Complex Adaptive Systems
 Definition: A collection of individual agents,
who have the freedom to act in unpredictable
ways, and whose actions are interconnected
such that one agent’s actions changes the
context for other agents.

 Examples: termite colonies, stock markets, the


Internet, gardens, human beings, groups of
people
Defining
Complex Adaptive Systems
 Alternative CAS definition by Ralph Stacey:
CASs consist of a network of agents that
interact with each other according to a set
of rules that require them to examine and
respond to each other’s behavior to
improve their behavior and thus the
behavior of the system they comprise.
Attributes of Complex
Adaptive Systems
 Elements of the system change themselves (they adapt)
 Complex behaviors can emerge from a few simple rules
that are applied locally
 Emergence of novelty & creativity is a natural state
 Order emerges without central control
 Non-linearity: small changes can have BIG effects
 Systems are embedded in systems & their
interdependency matters
 Not predictable in detail: forecasting is an inexact, yet
boundable, art
 Co-evolution of life proceeds through constant tension
& balance
 Adapted from Paul Plsek
Interdependent Attributes
Adaptable
Natural Elements
Simple
Emergence & Rules
Creativity

Order w/o
Central Embedded
Control Systems

Not Predicable Co-Evolution


in Detail
Non-Linearity
Why Now?
 More of our world is connected, complex and
interdependent than ever before
 Entities that embrace these principles and practices seem
to adapt and grow; and, institutions that don’t, are not
functioning well at all
 New complexity science directly challenges pervasive
Newtonian “machine-age” thinking
 Advances in biology & CASs are informing science &
technology advances in other fields
 Time and space have been compressed (the lags &
gaps have disappeared)
Complexity Lens
Reflection
 We are finely tuned “complex adaptive
systems,” especially when we are working at
our highest intelligence & purpose.
 Describe a time or experience when a collaborative
effort created or encouraged something surprising. It
should be something you are proud to have been a part
of… a difference that made a difference. It can be a
very small, subtle thing. It could be from your current
workplace or a past effort of any kind.
 See the Workbook Handout
When Complexity Practices
Are Useful
 When you are frustrated with current and
past approaches
 When challenges are wicked and messy
 When you want to start something new
 When there is little agreement or
certainty about how to respond *
 * See the Zone of Complexity in Ralph Stacey’s diagram
Stacey Diagram
Know When Your Challenges Are In the Zone of Complexity

Far from Chaotic


Seek Patterns
Agreement

Simple
Close to

Plan, control

Close to Certainty Far from


Stacey Diagram
Know When Your Challenges Are In the Zone of Complexity

Far from Chaotic


Seek Patterns
Agreement

Complex
Swarm

Complicated
Simple
Close to

Plan, control

Close to Certainty Far from


What Approaches Are
Useful in the Zone?
Chaos
Far from
Agreement Seek Patterns

CAS Metaphors, Good Enough Vision,


Minimum Specs, Seeking Out Paradox,
Multiple Actions, Chunking, Generative
Relationships, Informal Networks, Tuning
To Your System & Natural Attractors,
Swarmware
Simple
Close to

Plan, control

Close to Certainty Far from


Simple & Complex
Approaches
Simple Complex

• Plan then act •“Act-learn-plan” at


• Create explicit plans the same time
• Look for agreement & • Look for divergence
a clear outcome • Use multiple actions
• Limit type of actions & min specs
• Drive implementation • Tune to the edge
& set targets • Build on what
emerges & grows
Chronic Disease Acute, Uncomplicated
Complex Simple

 Gradual onset over time  Abrupt onset


 Multivariate cause,  Often a single cause can be
changing over time identified
 Diagnosis is uncertain and  Diagnosis and prognosis are
prognosis obscure commonly accurate
 Indecisive technologies &  Specific therapy or treatment
therapies with adversities available
 No cure, pervasive  Technological intervention is
uncertainty: management, usually effective; cure is
coaching & self-care over likely with return to normal
time is needed to improve health
health
 Profession & laity must be  Profession is knowledgeable
reciprocally knowledgeable and laity inexperienced
to improve health status
Adapted from: Halstead Holman, MD (Stanford)
Leadership Tasks
In A Professional Bureaucracy
 role defining – job and task descriptions
 tight structuring – use chain of command
 simplifying – prioritize or limit simple actions
 socializing – seek homogeneous values & ideas
 decision making – find the “best” choice
 knowing – decide & tell others what to do
 controlling – tightly managed execution
 planning via forecasting – plan & then roll out
 staying the course – align & maintain focus

Adapted from Ruth Anderson & Reuben McDaniel, JR.


Leadership Tasks
Complex Adaptive System
 relationship building – work with patterns of interaction
 loose coupling – informal communities of practice
 complicating – add more degrees of freedom
 diversifying – draw out & exploit difference
 sense making – collective interpretation/meaning
 learning – act/learn/plan at the same time
 improvising – intuition guiding action w/min specs
 thinking about the future – imagine surprises
 noticing emergent direction – build on what works

Adapted from Ruth Anderson & Reuben McDaniel, JR.


Leadership Tasks
Professional Complex Adaptive
Bureaucracy System
 role defining  relationship building
 tight structuring  loose coupling
 simplifying  complicating
 socializing  diversifying
 decision making  sense making
 knowing  learning
 controlling (w/ max  improvising (w/ min
specs) specs)
 planning via  thinking about the
forecasting future
 stay the course  noticing emergent
direction
Adapted from Ruth Anderson & Reuben McDaniel, JR.
How Does Simplicity Emerge
from CASs?

 “Given the right circumstances, from no more than


dreams, determination, and the liberty to try, ordinary
people consistently do extraordinary things. To lead is to
create those circumstances.” Dee Hock, Visa Founder
 “Nobody knows exactly how it works, but we can give it
what it needs to grow... prepare & fertilize soil with
collaborative technology; seed with change agents; protect
new growth; water the “right plant in the right place”;
weed & prune what does not grow; harvest when ripe.”
Peter & Trudy Johnson-Lenz, Awakening Technologies
“Farmers don’t grow crops.
They create the conditions for
crops to grow.”
Gareth Morgan
Simplicity on the Other
Side of Complexity

IV. Scientific Origins &


Emerging Insights
Scientific Origins
Surprising Convergence
of Disciplines

Chemistry Computer
Science

Psychology Mathematics

Physics Biology Sociology

Meteorology Economics
Ecology
Before Complexity

 Scientists believed the future was knowable


given enough data points
 Dissecting discrete parts would reveal how
everything -- the whole system -- works
 Phenomena can be reduced to simple cause &
effect relationships
 The role of scientists, technology, & leaders was
to predict and control the future
 Increasing levels of control over nature would
improve our quality of life
Newton & the Machine
Metaphor
 In science
 the search for the basic building blocks

 In management
 The whole is no more or no less than
the sum of parts, so focus on the parts
(e.g. functions, disciplines)
 Organizations and people are implicitly
viewed as machines (or machine parts)
Tom Petzinger
Wall Street Journal
 “Even as it was toppled from unassailability in
science, Newtonian mechanics remained firmly
lodged as the mental model of management,
from the first stirrings of the industrial revolution
right through the advent of modern-day M.B.A.
studies.”
 As biologists and other pioneers began to realize,
it could not explain the self renewing processes
of life.
Roots Of Complexity

 Santa Fe Institute
 Physics-chaos theory
 Math-fractal geometry
 Meteorology-butterfly effect
 Biology-complex adaptive
systems
From Physics Envy To Biology Envy
Surprising Convergence:
We Stand on the Shoulders of Giants

Chemistry
Physiology
Ilya Prigogine, Order Out of Chaos Sociology
Robert Axelrod, Complexity of Cooperation
Ary Goldberger, Cardiac Research
Complex Adaptive Physics-Ecology
Physics Systems Fritjof Capra, Web of Life
David Bohm, Wholeness
((( Murray Gell-Mann )))
& the Implicate Order
The Quark & the Jaguar
Socio-Biology
((( Stuart Kaufmann ))) E.O. Wilson Consilience
Meteorology At Home in the Universe
Edward Lorenz, The Butterfly Effect
((( John Holland ))) Computer Science
Emergence Christopher Langton

Philosophy ((( Brian Arthur )))


Ken Wilbur, Integral Science & Religion Increasing Returns Genetics
R.C. Lewontin, Biology as Ideology
Ecology
James Lovelock, Gaia Hypothesis Mathematics
Mandlebrot, Fractals
More Giants
Complexity applied to organizations

Strategy/Leadership
Market Strategy Ralph Stacey
Leadership
Kevin Kelly Gareth Morgan
Management Leadership
Brenda Zimmerman Meg Wheatley
Strategy Innovation
S. Brown & K. Eisenhardt
Complex Everett Rogers
Sustainability Adaptive Systems Planning
Paul Hawken/James Moore Henry Mintzberg

Management Learning
Jeffery Goldstein Etienne Wegner

Org Development Organzing Structure


Dee Hock
David Cooperrider

Org Dynamics Knowledge


Roger Lewin/Birute Regine
People Practices Ikujiro Nonaka
Jeffery Pfeffer
Complexity In Practice
 Dee Hock -- managed the banking “commons” & balanced
competition/cooperation while leading VISA (Birth of the
Chaordic Age)
 Arie de Geus -- brought a natural system lens to Royal
Dutch Shell & scenario planning (The Living Company)
 Orpheus Chamber Symphony -- a leaderless group
 Tom Petzinger -- WSJ stories & The New Pioneers
 Roger Lewin & Birute Regine -- The Soul at Work
 Irv Dardik’s Heart Waves -- applied to health and
chronic disease (clinical trials are underway)
Emerging Insights
Key Attributes

 Elements of the system change themselves (they adapt)


 Complex behaviors can emerge from a few simple rules that are applied
locally
 Emergence of novelty & creativity is a natural state
 Order emerges without central control
 Non-linearity: small changes can have BIG effects
 Systems are embedded in systems & their interdependency matters
 Not predictable in detail: forecasting is an inexact, yet boundable, art
 Co-evolution of life proceeds through constant tension & balance
Key Attributes
Adaptable
Natural Elements
Simple
Emergence &
Rules
Creativity

Order w/o
Central Embedded
Control Systems

Not Predictable
Co-
in Detail
Non-Linearity Evolution
Simple Rules in Practice

 Living systems follow “simple rules”


 Craig Reynolds’ “Boids” simulation uses
minimum rules of interaction
 Gareth Morgan’s “min specs”
 Simple rules include “Must do’s” or “Never
do’s”
Example: Reynolds’
Steering Rules
 Maintain a minimum distance from other
boids and objects
 Match speed of neighboring boids
 Move toward the center of mass of
flock-mates in your area

Complex “flocking” emerges!


Living Systems Are Non-
Linear

 Not predictable in long-term


 Future not just unknown but unknowable
 Small events may trigger huge effects
 Huge efforts may have negligible effects
Examples Of Non-Linearity

 Rosa Parks’ refusal to yield her


seat

 Weather, hurricanes

 A statement or word used by Alan


Greenspan
The 15% Principle
 Learning how to “flow” with & “tune to” change
in complex systems
 W. Edwards Deming suggested that everyone --
from the CEO to the front line worker -- has
influence over 15% of their system. The other
85% is beyond their discretionary control.
 Recognize that you have 15% discretionary
influence… it may sound small but you can use it
to make a difference that makes a difference.
Simple Rules & Attractors
“Auto-Pilot” Rules.... New Pattern
Emerging

Search for simple rules, subtle patterns or


rhythms that attract natural energy in your system.
How Does an Attractor
Pattern Shift or Flip?
 A system chooses to be disturbed
 the disturbance gets amplified
 it creates instability
 the system falls apart
 it flips or shifts to a new attractor (e.g.
new simple rules)
 by searching for & organizing around
new meaning
 Source: Margaret Wheatley
“How To” Disturb &
Amplify
 Allow new information into the system
 Work with organizational boundaries
 Connect systems to environment
 Question differences
 Challenge assumptions
 Take advantage of chance and serendipity
 Adapted from: Jeffrey Goldstein, The Unshackled Organization
Chunking
Building on what works from the
ground up

 The only way to make a successful complex


system is to begin with a simple system that
works. Complex systems are not instantly
installed... they are assembled incrementally from
pieces that can operate independently.
 The interdependent parts share control and act
locally in parallel. A central command slows things
down in a distributed network. Source: Kevin Kelly
Lessons From Physiology

Healthy Heart OR Dying


Heart
Heart Rate Dynamics

?
Heart Rate Dynamics
Dynamic Adaptability
Point of
Maximum
High Adaptability
Adaptability

ZONE of HEALTH

Low

Threshold Threshold
Ordered Disordered
Dynamics
Application: Heart Wave
Cycles
 Cyclic Exercise & Health
 A series of activation-relaxation cycles
 Pulse rate rises & falls to generate a sequence
of heart rate waves
 The timing, intensity and “rhythm” of one
cycle is related to the previous cycle
 Conventional Exercise & Health
 Continuous, prolonged
 Elevated, extended pulse rate

 Interval training
 Increasing, sequenced pulse rate
A New Definition of
Health

That state of wholeness in


which the
individual is poised for
maximal adaptability.
It is a state characterized by
a dynamic
tension resulting from the
interplay of interactive forces
Nine Interdependent
Principles
Good Enough
Vision Clockware/
Complexity Lens
Swarmware

Chunking
Tune To
The Edge

Competition/
Cooperation Seek
Paradox

Shadow System Multiple Actions


Nine Emerging & Connected
Principles
 View your system through the
lens of complexity
 Build a “good enough” vision,
use a “min specs” approach
 When life is far from certain,
lead with clockware and
swarmware in tandem
More Principles...
 Uncover and work with paradox
& tension

 Tune your place to the edge

 Go for multiple actions at the


fringes, let direction arise
More Principles...
 Listen to the “shadow system”

 Grow complex systems by


chunking

 Mix competition and cooperation


Reflection –
Interdependent Principles
Good Enough
Complexity Lens Vision Clockware/
Swarmware

Chunking
Tune To
The Edge

Competition/
Cooperation Seek
Paradox

Shadow System Multiple Actions


Kevin Kelly’s 10 Rules for
the New Economy
Relationship
Opportunities No Harmony,
Tech
Before All Flux
Efficiencies
From Places
to Spaces
Embrace
the Swarm

Let Go
Increasing at the Top
Returns
Feed the
Plenitude, Follow Web First
not Scarcity the Free
Simplicity on the Other
Side of Complexity

V. Stories that Illustrate


Complexity Principles in
Practice
Stories We Will Explore

 Improving Admissions by Tuning to


Patients
 Growing a Sustainable, “Green” Carpet
Business

[Add your favorite stories from Edgeware,


Edgeplace, The New Pioneers, The Soul at
Work,…]
Traditional Storytelling
Heroic Individual Actions
Luke Skywalker (The Force)

Guru-Guide Trickster
Obi Wan Kenobi & Darth Vader
Yoda

Blocking Force
Imperial Forces (The Dark Side)
Storytelling Through a
Complexity Lens
Heroic Individual Actions
New Attractor Pattern

Guru-Guide Trickster
Adaptive Waves of
Principles-At- Emergence &
Play Serendipity

Blocking Force
“Autopilot” Attractor
(Self-Fulfilling Prophecy)
New Attractor Pattern
> Notice how new patterns emerge
in far-from-equilibrium conditions

Adaptive Waves of Emergence


Principles > Expect novelty & surprise
> Discern complexity that dampens or amplifies
practices-in-action change

“Autopilot” Attractor
(Self-Fulfilling Prophecy)
> Uncover subtle/simple rules embedded in
current patterns of behavior
 Keith McCandless, 1999
Improving Flow by Tuning to
Patients
 Who is involved: nurses, physicians, administrators,
ancillary departments
 Focus: Improving patient flow through in a hospital
based outpatient unit in Utah (LDS)
 Results: 50% increase in volume without plant
expansion, reduced expense, dramatically
improved patient satisfaction

 Source: The New Pioneers, by Tom Petzinger, Jr. (pages 87-90)


New Attractor Pattern
Notice how new patterns emerge
in far-from-equilibrium conditions
> “Do what is right for the patient!”
> Frustration & commitment to change

Adaptive Waves of Emergence


Expect novelty & surprise that
Principles dampens or amplifies change
Discern complexity > Patients can walk to surgery!
practices-in-action > All stakeholders benefit when
> Seek paradox patient is the focus
> Tune to the edge > Common-sense AND radical at
> Good-enough vision the same time
> Simple rules
“Autopilot” Attractor
Uncover subtle/simple rules embedded
in current patterns of behavior
> Do what the surgeons want… and, don’t question it!
> Acceptance of “The operation is a success, the patient is pissed!”
Growing a Sustainable,
“Green” Carpet Business
 Who is involved: Executive (Ray Anderson) and
managers at the Interface flooring company;
suppliers & customers
 Focus: Extreme (and green) reduction in resource use
through developing sustainable production and
business practices
 Results: Immediate waste reductions won favor
among investors; tens of millions of dollars went to
the bottom line; market differentiation
 Source: The New Pioneers, by Tom Petzinger, Jr. (pages 246-253)
New Attractor Pattern
Notice how new patterns emerge
in far-from-equilibrium conditions
> Early 1990’s recession; Ray’s soul searching; Ecology of Commerce
> Pesky customers asking about recycled materials; grow by cleaning up!

Adaptive Waves of Emergence


Principles Expect novelty & surprise that
Discern complexity dampens or amplifies change
practices-in-action > Some suppliers got on board
> Systems-in-systems > “Evergreen leasing”
interdependency > “All beauty starts with nature” &
> Good-enough vision customers noticed
> Simple rules
“Autopilot” Attractor
Uncover subtle/simple rules embedded
in current patterns of behavior
> Sell “flexibility”; buy supplies cheap; and, grow by acquisition
> Manage internal production -- ignore how your suppliers produce
their goods and how your customers dispose of your product
New Attractor Pattern
> Notice how new patterns emerge
in far-from-equilibrium conditions

Adaptive Waves of Emergence


Principles > Expect novelty & surprise
> Discern complexity that dampens or amplifies
practices-in-action change

“Autopilot” Attractor
(Self-Fulfilling Prophecy)
> Uncover subtle/simple rules embedded in
current patterns of behavior
 Keith McCandless, 1999
Material and Ideas
Contributed by:
 Kevin Dooley, PhD; Glenda Eoyang; Ralph
Stacey, PhD; Ary Goldberger, MD; Brenda
Zimmerman, PhD; Jeffrey Goldstein, PhD;
Gareth Morgan, PhD; Curt Lindberg; Paul
Plsek; and, a vibrant community of
complexity pioneers

 Composed and developed for VHA Inc. by


Keith McCandless in Seattle
(keithmccandless@earthlink.net)