Bringing our whole self to work is essential for us to thrive as humans and companies to survive in today’s environment. I was thrilled (and relieved) to learn that there are thousands, perhaps even millions, of people who also believe that our whole selves cannot be separated into parts and that this was increasingly being practiced in companies around the world.
Are chaos and creativity synonyms? Is creativity an emergent property of chaos and complexity?
We've recently been discussing creativity on our podcast. The concept of creativity has resurfaced often on our show. Complexity and "flow" was one of our first episodes and we continue to explore the different realms of creativity and the creative process, which are very useful in dealing with complex adaptive systems.
We have learned that creativity requires trust and freedom. It also requires stepping outside of established patterns, while embracing uncertainty, vulnerability & chaos. It can help us make unexpected connections and push boundaries into the unknown.
We can work towards expanding our creative abilities by leaning in to our imaginations. We can let go a little, experiment often, quiet our minds, and seek childlike wonder and curiosity.
Learn more with some of our favorite quotes, which we believe capture the complexity and chaos of the creative process:
Angie and I recently attended the WorkHuman Conference in our home town of Austin, Texas. The event is pioneered by Globoforce, a leading provider for social recognition solutions, who is dedicated to creating more human-centered workplaces.
We were eager to attend WorkHuman for many reasons. Their speaker lineup was definitely a major draw, for it included well-known leaders Brene Brown, Shawn Achor, Salma Hayek, Simon Sinek, and Amal Clooney, among others. However, there were more compelling reasons for our excitement. We desired to learn more about this movement, to be a part of their mission and play witness, and to contribute to the conversation with our testimony about how complex system science can help transform workplaces for the better.
As a systems thinker, I don’t ever recall a time that I couldn’t see systems. However, as I was learning about the various complexity terms and aspects, light bulb after light bulb went off, and having the words that explained what I understood gave me more confidence. What I learned from my MA was rich and invaluable, and while it did not result in me being fluent in "complexity speak", the following are some of the terms that have especially resonated with me and continually show up in my work, life, and all the things I do.
We are currently in a podcast series on the complexity of artificial intelligence and we recently shared our interview with AI researcher, leading Complex Systems Scientist, Professor of Computer Science at Portland State University, and external professor at the Santa Fe Institute, Melanie Mitchell.
Mitchell’s background originally stems from Mathematics and Physics. She became curious about how intelligence emerges from a complex system after reading Douglas Hofstadter’s book, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. Hofstadter later became her Phd advisor after she sought him out at the University of Michigan. Mitchell attributes her professional journey to his guidance, as well as, Professor John Holland, who was a pioneer in the field of genetic algorithms. Holland was also an early founder of the Santa Fe Institute and encouraged Mitchell’s involvement with the Institute.
In our upcoming episode, we share our interview with the co-author of Embracing Complexity: Strategic Perspectives for an Age of Turbulence, Jean Boulton, who is also an academic and management consultant, specializing in complexity theory. Our conversation with her was very rich, covering concepts from how complexity thinking compares to systems thinking, change management, complexity as a worldview, and even how this field is shining a light on climate change. We covered a lot of ground in the time we had with her, although we wish we could have talked longer. Her humility and brilliance were captivating and just minutes into our conversation, we realized that she lives and breathes complexity, using this worldview to frame how she thinks, feels and acts.
We have learned a lot from our podcast interviews and casual conversations about complex adaptive systems. And recently, we have taken a closer look at how we define human intelligence. In the Webster dictionary, "intelligence" is defined as –the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations. But, we feel that this definition and the cultural understanding of this word, limits the holistic nature of true human intelligence.
So, we were curious to learn more about the nuance, scope and scale of human abilities. And began wondering, what does it really mean to be intelligent?
Here are some of our favorite quotes that we believe capture the complexity of true human intelligence:
Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been able to zoom out, per se, to see the big picture or whole system and, at the same time, understand the smaller parts that make up the system. However, it wasn’t until my late 20’s that I realized that not everyone is wired this way and that this ability is referred to as being a “system thinker”. I’ve also learned that people’s level of systems thinking varies across a wide spectrum.
As a curious systems thinker, earning my BA in Organizational Communication deepened my understanding of and ability to be a systems thinker. The following are some of the system thinking approaches that I practiced when earning my degree and continue to use in areas of my life today.