Episode 050 Complexity Science is Everyone’s Science

Episode 50

Complexity science is everyone's science

March 9, 2017

In this episode, Haley interviews professor, complexity scientist, and founding president of the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI), Yaneer Bar-Yam. Yaneer talks about how we can understand complex systems science by applying it across all of the systems we interact with in our society today. He also explains the importance of flatter, team-oriented organizations when dealing with complexity because today’s hierarchical organizations are limited by “what one individual can do and individuals have a limited degree of complexity that they can cope with". Also, in this episode, Angie and Stacy Hale discuss how the role of leadership is changing in the face of more and more complex problems. They also talk about Stacy’s experience as a student at NECSI.

Show Notes

Quotes from this episode:

“How is the role of leadership changing as society becomes more complex?” - Stacy Hale

“I wonder if some of the responsibility of leaders is shifting to teams, because teams are better able to handle complexity at multiple scales than a single leader. So, I think maybe the role of a leader is increasingly shifting to facilitator and in being able to help manage the flow of information through a team.” - Stacy Hale

“What Yaneer taught me that blew my mind and pivoted my thinking about complex systems was that there is a trade-off between scale and complexity...” - Stacy Hale

“As the interconnectedness of society increases, we have to create systems that can handle that complexity.” - Stacy Hale

“Decisions that we make can be linked to effects in other parts of the world and what other people are doing can affect us in ways that are surprising, unanticipated and in general part of the unanticipated consequences of actions that are being taken. So, there is a tremendous challenge to deal with the complexity in the world today, and we are trying to explain to people how to think about what is going on in the world and how to begin to build systems that are going to be able to really respond successfully in the context of the high complexity of the world that we have.” - Yaneer Bar-Yam

“There is beginning to be a global synchrony.” Yaneer Bar-Yam

“When you study complex systems more carefully, you realize that having a very strongly connected system will actually limit the ability of the system to have complex behaviors. So turns out that really complex systems actually have a structure that has different levels of organization, so there are small groups and then larger groups that include the small groups, and yet larger groups, all the way up to the system as a whole.” - Yaneer Bar-Yam   

“We are not becoming a homogeneous world society, we are actually becoming an integrated but differentiated system where parts are doing different things but are nevertheless strongly connected to each other.” - Yaneer Bar-Yam

“Hierarchical organizations become ineffective in a complex world, and the basic reason for that is that the collective behavior of the organization is too linked to what one individual can do and individuals have a limited degree of complexity that they can cope with.” - Yaneer Bar-Yam

“How do we understand complex systems science in a way that we can apply it across all of the complex systems that we currently touch in our society today?” - Stacy Hale

“NECSI is the leader in producing the research that tells us how complex systems science can be applied to real-world challenges, specifically challenges dealing with policy decisions and how they have unintended consequences that can happen globally.”- Stacy Hale

“Complexity science is everybody’s science.” - Stacy Hale


Resources from this episode:

Making Things Work by Yaneer Bar-Yam