Humanity is in a crisis of consciousness. Society and the way we interact with each other is broken because we too often see the world in separate, static, and linear ways. Our reductive thinking keeps us stuck in the past, with no clear path for how to move forward, for we are in constant conflict with the complex, dynamic, and evolving world around us. Luckily, an opportunity for change is presenting itself. We have a new approach to the art of inquiry, called complexity science, which can guide us forward. A complexity science approach allows us to explore and address questions beyond the the scope of “traditional” science, including human behavior, cultures, and social movements. Complexity science pushes us to look at history, not for answers but for a map toward a more positive future and every February in the United States, we are presented with an opportune time to reflect on the past. Black History Month, which stems back to the 1920’s as “Negro History Week”, is here to remind us that the past contains important insights. Unfortunately, over the years we have missed too many of these insights and desperately need to expand our thinking in order to move forward in a positive way. With a collective shift in human consciousness, guided by missing lessons from our past and complexity science, we can work together to achieve positive change.
Although much of the context is lost during the process of communication, connecting with our community and learning together is why we do what we do. We have talked with many different scientists, practitioners and enthusiasts in the complexity science community and have gathered diverse themes which encompass, explain and (dare we say) define complexity science and complexity thinking. Here is what we have learned:
We have shared over 100 episodes on the Human Current podcast and have explored the very essence of complex systems throughout many different conversations. We continue to learn from others about interdependencies, patterns, relationships, emergence, self-organization, feedback loops, and many more trademarks of complex adaptive systems. All of these concepts have helped us better understand the inner workings of our reality. They are packed with meaning and tangible understanding. Yet, there is another concept that continues to reveal itself to us time and time again, which is harder to grasp with the mind: wholeness. Wholeness is the very essence of what it means to be a living system.
At first thought, it seems like a straightforward term that you can wrap your head around without having to sit with it for very long. When you do sit with it for a while however, you realize it’s loaded with mystical complexity.
Peter Senge said, “systems thinking is a discipline for seeing wholes. It is a framework for seeing interrelationships rather than things, for seeing patterns of change rather than static snapshots.”
Wholeness is all around us. We can use systems thinking and complexity thinking to see it and to tap into it, but we are learning that something more is needed, something beyond knowledge or reason, in order to fully appreciate what wholeness really means.
Here are a few quotes to help you grasp wholeness with your mind (and maybe a few insights for how else we might seek wholeness):
We recently had the privilege to talk with Stephen Wolfram at the Ninth International Conference on Complex Systems (ICCS). Wolfram is the creator of Mathematica, Wolfram|Alpha and the Wolfram Language. He is also the author of A New Kind of Science and is the founder and CEO of Wolfram Research.
Wolfram is also one of the founding fathers of the complexity science field and was the featured keynote speaker on the first night at ICCS, hosted by the New England Complex Systems Institute. He spoke for an hour and a half at the event and was followed by a very eager crowd of followers after his talk. Many of these complexity thinkers, practitioners, students and researchers lingered to ask him questions, hoping he would elaborate on his very thought-provoking presentation. During this time, Angie and I anxiously waited in our podcast booth for him to come speak with us, and after nearly 2 hours of patiently addressing his crowd’s questions, Wolfram walked into our booth. We asked him if he was up for an interview after such a long evening, and with no hesitation he sat down and put on his microphone headset.
This is a very exciting time for The Human Current! We have just come back from a wonderful conference week at The Ninth International Conference on Complex Systems (ICCS) and are about to release our 100th podcast episode!
While at ICCS we collected 30 interviews and have released 8 of these interviews so far, including Professor Yaneer Bar-Yam, Professor Ricardo Hausmann, Steven Hassan, Professor Natalia Komarova & Professor George Church!
Soon we will share our interview with one of the founding fathers of complexity science, Stephen Wolfram.
We discovered Complexity Labs several months ago after watching educational videos on their Youtube channel. Since then, we have read a number of their complexity related articles and have formed a supportive working relationship with their founder, Joss Colchester. We believe Joss and the Complexity Labs team are making a very important contribution to the complexity and systems thinking communities with their easily accessible learning content. Since Complexity Labs was established a few short years ago, they have made great impact producing over 300 video lessons, which have been viewed 2 million times.
It’s no secret that I love my work as a podcast co-host and an organizational change consultant. As a co-host of The HumanCurrent, there are two questions that I am frequently asked: how do we (my co-host and I) practice what we talk about in our podcast and how do we live out our Twitter handle @Letsworkhappy. I love these questions so much that I’ve written this blog to share some of our practices.
My hope is that everyone can experience happiness at work and perhaps by me sharing these favorite practices, you can apply at least one of them at your work. Cheers to working happy!
The co-hosts of The HumanCurrent are very excited to announce they are collaborating with Complexity Labs for a series of live streaming video conversations about all things complexity.
We are calling this video discussion series "Complexity Live" and it will be a once a month event hosted on Google Hangouts (YouTube Live) at Complexity Labs Youtube Channel .
Our very first Complexity Live will take place Friday, June 8th at 6PM GMT and anyone with a curious mind can listen in and ask questions while the conversation unfolds.