The HumanCurrent Podcast
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Episode Show Notes
Episode 055 - Unintended Consequences with Complexity Scientist Yaneer Bar-Yam
Haley interviews professor, complexity scientist, and founding president of the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI), Yaneer Bar-Yam, to discuss the nature of global complex problems. Yaneer shares how quickly unintended consequences can ripple throughout our global systems. More specifically, he discusses research he conducted with NECSI on the causes of increasing global food prices. Yaneer states, “We need to understand global consequences in order to be able to act and react effectively to the challenges we are facing today.”
“So we traced back the causes of the increasing food prices and what we found actually is that policy decisions in the United States actually led to those increasing food prices. And there are two particular reasons, one is policy that has to do with the US energy and environmental discussions and that is the use of corn for producing ethanol it’s the 10 % of gasoline that we use in our cars. We are using today almost 50% of the US corn crop to produce that 10% of gasoline and while it doesn’t have much of an effect of the energy supply, it turns out that it has such a large effect on the food supply that it actually has been responsible for a doubling of basic food prices around the world and that is because corn is such an integral part of the food supply. It’s not just used for eating, it’s used for the feeding of animals to make dairy products and meat products and it’s used for making sugar, and it takes land away from other crops.
So, the US government decided to mandate the US use of biofuels for gasoline and that is actually what caused the dramatic increase in global food prices. The other reason for the increase in global food prices was a deregulation of commodity markets and when the mortgage market and stock market crashed, money from those markets didn’t have anywhere to go and went into the commodity markets and including agricultural commodities or foods and drove the prices up. And so the crash in 2007 was a direct precursor of a dramatic rise in food prices and again the dramatic rise in 2010 and 2011 was just an oscillation like the ringing of a bell. So we have US policy decisions giving rise to increasing global food prices, giving rise to the Arab Spring and the breakdown of order in several countries, including Syria which led to the place being sort of an incubator for ISIS and leading to the global refugee crisis from Syria and we are watching this global cascade that goes from economic factors to food to riots and revolutions to refugees cascading around the world.”- Yaneer Bar-Yam
“We have to think about the global consequences and be aware that actions of people in other parts of the world are going to affect us and any idea that we can truly isolate ourselves from those effects is not correct.”- Yaneer Bar-Yam
“Overall we do need to understand the global consequences in order to be able to act and react effectively to the challenges we are facing today.”- Yaneer Bar-Yam
“Today we have so many more ways to engage with each other and work together, but we don’t really know how to use that ability and that change in use is a societal transformation. People talk a lot about the technology but the real change that will affect us very dramatically is the change of how we interact with each other.”- Yaneer Bar-Yam
Episode 054 - Reversing Complex Problems for Global Security
Why are all our biggest global problems caused by reductionist thinking habits? How does the environment and sustainability influence global security? In this episode, Angie interviews global security thought leader, keynote speaker, and founder and CEO of BlindSpot Think Tank, James Greyson. James discusses his unique approach to solving intractable problems, which he calls “blindspotting”. He also shares the details of his research paper for NATO titled Seven Policy Switches for Global Security.
Quotes from this episode:
"Climate change is a perfect example of a global problem that we failed to solve by staying stuck in various kinds of default answers that either avoid the complexity of the problem or they avoid managing the complexity that causes the problems." - James Greyson
"I think global security could be an ideal way to describe an overall goal for complex, interlocked, global problems because you've got so many problems which you can lose track of individually if you just start making a list, to actually see the problems as a whole set then it can help to have an overall goal." - James Greyson
James' TedTalk Let’s unshrink thinking and reverse reverse-progress
Collaborate with James on Patreon
Learn more about James' biochar cookstove at 2050kids
053 - Becoming Environmentally Conscience in A Complex World
In the spirit of Earth Day approaching, Angie and Haley discuss the importance of being environmentally consciousness. They also share clips from past guests, Laurie Marshall, Chris Ling, and James Greyson, who responded to a quote by environmental activist, Annie Leonard. Her quote states: “The assumptions that ‘pollution is the price of progress’ or that ‘we must choose between jobs and the environment’ have long limited our creative thinking about innovative solutions that can be good for the environment, the workers, and a healthy economy.”
Episode 052 - Developing Innovative Ecological Systems
In this episode, Angie interviews the Director of the School of Environment and Sustainability at Royal Roads University, Professor Chris Ling. Chris shares his experiences with sustainable community planning throughout his career, including some fascinating research he conducted on the scalability of farmer’s markets. Chris explains the importance of implementing solutions which are “based on the local socio-ecological reality”.
Quotes from this episode:
“The situation locally needs to be the thing that drives the solution.” - Chris Ling
“It’s all about diversity. It really is!” - Chris Ling
Episode 051 - Learning from Nature
In this episode, Haley interviews author, public speaker, and education transformer, Laurie Marshall. Laurie discusses her passion for empowering youth through creative collaboration and introduces her new book, Beating the Odds Now, which she describes as “a love letter for teachers” to help them feel inspiration and joy in their work. Laurie also shares the importance of looking to nature as a tool for learning and a way for each individual to discover their inner genius. Learn more at www.Laurie-Marshall.com. The cover image for this episode is titled “Fig Singing Tree of the Child”.
Quotes from this episode:
“I want to use my genius to fix what breaks my heart.” - Laurie Marshall
“My book [Beating the Odds Now] is a love letter to teachers.” - Laurie Marshall
“How does nature solve a human challenge in the local ecosystem?” - Laurie Marshall
“Competition in nature is always in the context of an overriding, interconnected mutualism where all organisms benefit from keeping a balance of eating and being eaten.” - Laurie Marshall
“To divorce ourselves from nature and use it as a commodity has resulted in to sickness and alienation, the warming of the atmosphere, the acidification of the oceans, and the sixth greatest mass extinction event that’s currently underway. It’s a great sickness in our human population around the world.” - Laurie Marshall
“Instead of being one that’s for fossil fuel or against fossil fuels, if we change the story to: how do we create clean renewable energy because the next generations survival depends on it, we can come up with new ways of doing it. It’s an exciting time to come up with the third way, the new story, instead of just looking at people as our enemies.” - Laurie Marshall
“Go outside and learn about your local ecosystem! And walk outside with a young person.” - Laurie Marshall
Books Laurie References in her interview:
Episode 050 - Complexity Science is Everyone’s Science
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.
Making Things Work recent book by Yaneer Bar-Yam
Upcoming Event for NECSI: Open House and Special Presentation on The Science of Human Collective Behavior Using Twitter Thursday, March 30, 2017 (Available on Google Hangouts)
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
Episode 049 - Using Data & Design to Empower Teams
In this episode, Angie interviews innovator, silicon valley veteran, and VP of Marketing at iCharts, Rico Andrade. Rico discusses the importance of a leader’s role in empowering teams and creating the right environment and conditions for them to interact and make real-time decisions. He also explains that because the world is more complex and data driven it is becoming more important than ever for leaders to release some control and allow for emergent insights to play a role in guiding business decisions. Rico claims that using “data as a team member” is a powerful way for leaders to design employee collaboration and problem-solving.
You can find Rico Andrade on Twitter
Quotes from this episode:
“Sometimes we over value the significance and contribution of a strong, single leader. A lot of leadership is about creating the environment and conditions, in which different parts of an organization can interact with each other and lead themselves without having a traditional hierarchy ”- Rico Andrade
“The release of control in the right way unleashes something that you could never have planned for otherwise, and it allows a lot of opportunity for new insights and new execution to occur.” - Rico Andrade
“In a sense, what the role of a leader becomes in an organization is more than just setting a vision, but creating the conditions for the vision to set itself in some situations.”- Rico Andrade
“Design thinking is much more about a mindset. It’s much more about creating a set of tools and a framework that you can keep coming back to when you are unsure what to do next.” - Rico Andrade
“As the world becomes increasingly data driven and increasingly more complex, the companies that are going to survive are ones that enable their employees with tools and empower them to make good data-driven decisions, in real time.” - Rico Andrade
Books Rico references in his interview:
Episode 048 - The Intersection of Diversity, Innovation & Performance
In this episode, Haley interviews Paolo Gaudiano, an entrepreneur, teacher and visionary who applies complexity science and thinking to all aspects of his work and life. He is the President and Chief Technology Officer at Icosystem, which is an inspirational organization that combines expertise in human behavior & decision-making with simulation and optimization techniques inspired by complexity science and biology to build predictive analytics solutions. Paolo is also professor at CCNY and a Forbes contributing author of a blog called, The Complexity of Diversity.
Quotes from this episode:
“Probably the most crucial concept to convey to people is the notion of emergence and in particular the idea that a complex system is one that consist of many different elements. The idea is that each individual has a simple behavior, but by interacting with each other and with their environment, the behavior of the system as a whole emerges from all of these interactions. And, that behavior can sometimes be very unpredictable even if you know what all the individuals are doing” - Paolo Gaudiano
“We would argue that every business is really a complex system, and when you take an action within your company, you get ripple effects that can have a profound long-lasting impact on the business. Diversity is a perfect example of that.” - Paolo Gaudiano
“Unfortunately a lot of today’s tools in business are really supposed to be working for complicated systems not complex systems.” - Paolo Gaudiano
“The world is going crazy on the idea of big data. What people are doing is advocating the knowledge and domain expertise and basically handing a bunch of data over to a mathematician that understands what to do with the data, but does not necessarily understand the business.” - Paolo Gaudiano
“Because businesses are so complex today, leaders really need to understand the notions of complexity, emergence, tipping points and even though tools like statistics are still useful they need to understand what the limitations are.” - Paolo Gaudiano
Episode 047 - Visionary Leadership in A Complex World
In this episode, Angie interviews consultant, blogger, and systems thinker, Scott Jancy. Reflecting on his background in architecture, Scott discusses why he believes design and leadership are synonymous. He explains how leaders can successfully utilize systems thinking for problem solving, stating that “solutions often emerge on their own w a little coaxing". Scott also emphasizes the importance of leadership vision while approaching complex problems. Check out his leadership blog at www.scottjancy.com
Quotes from this episode:
“Solutions often emerge on their own with a little coaxing." - Scott Jancy
“Innovation comes when making small connections and linkages between things as you’re spending hours doing the same thing over and over in support of a vision.” - Scott Jancy
"Complexity is easy to deal with when you know what you want and can figure out what’s best for you” - Scott Jancy
Episode 046 - Welcoming 2017: A Sneak Peek of Our Leadership Series
In this episode, Angie and Haley welcome the new year and get excited about their upcoming series on the complexity of leadership. They also introduce upcoming guests, Scott Jancy and Paolo Gaudiano, and share their responses to the question: “how did you become interested in complexity?”
Co-host Haley’s blog on emotional intelligence, mindfulness, relationships & personal mastery
Scott Jancy's Blog about design, leadership, technology, and how to build creative organizations.
Quotes from this episode:
“I view every organization for the perspective of a system in balance. And, when you approach an organization that is struggling with some problem–from that perspective, the holistic perspective–and understand that, yes you have a problem to solve, but more importantly you need to create a system that is balanced the solutions sometimes emerge on their own with a little bit of coaxing.” - Scott Jancy
“I realized that the brain was the most amazing, complex, and fascinating machine that existed on earth.” - Paolo Gaudiano
Episode 045 - Human Networks Inspire Holiday Cheer
In this episode, Angie and Haley share clips from past interviews about the power of human networks. They also reminisce about what they have learned in 2016 and share their excitement about upcoming guests and topics to come in the new year. Happy Holidays from the HumanCurrent Complexity Podcast!
Quotes from this episode:
“I do not think our biggest social challenge is know-how; it’s not even money. It’s connecting the right people with the right ideas in the right way.” - Paul Shoemaker
“The cure lies with the relationships with the very people we typically blame for the problems we are trying to solve.” - Peter Senge
“In a complex adaptive system there is no separate “other”. Everything and everyone is connected and together we co-create the whole system.” - Peter Senge
Episode 044 - Making Sense of Human Systems, an interview with Professor Dave Snowden
In this episode, Angie interviews Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Cognitive Edge, Dave Snowden. Professor Snowden describes his work with complexity and how it applies to decision-making. He also introduces us to “anthro-complexity”, which is a term he has coined to represent a whole new approach to human systems based on natural science. Professor Snowden says “human systems are fundamentally organic entities”, so they should be studied as entirely different forms of complex systems.
Articles by Dave Snowden:
Quotes from this episode:
“Human systems are complex ecologies rather than complicated machines, for the last 3 or 4 decades we have been using a mechanical metaphor for what is fundamentally an organic entity.” - Dave Snowden
“Complex Adaptive Systems don’t have causality; they have dispositionality. You can say that the system is disposed to behave in this way but you can’t predict that it will. Most human systems work in that fashion.” - Dave Snowden
“There are huge additional levels of complexity when you deal with human systems, so what we are doing is to combine complex adaptive systems theory with cognitive neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy to create a new theory of what systems are about.” - Dave Snowden
“Art comes before human language in evolution, so humans constantly work at a high level of abstraction and in evolutionary terms this has massive advantage.” - Dave Snowden
“Ritual aligns identity with roles so that forms of behavior are possible.” - Dave Snowden
“If you create boundaries human beings when they cross a boundary know they can behave differently.” - Dave Snowden
“We need real-time feedback systems, which are descriptive not evaluative.” - Dave Snowden
“SenseMaker allows human metadata to be created using high abstraction principles.” - Dave Snowden
“Measure in the present by safe to fail parallel experimentation you don’t manage to future states. Manage in the present.” - Dave Snowden
Episode 043 - Conscious Voting Through Political Curiosity
In this episode, Angie and Haley explore their political mental models in order to question their own assumptions and ideologies. They also share clips from past guests, John Feehery and Spencer Gerrol, regarding presidential power in the USA. Additionally, they discuss some helpful resources, like the quiz on isidewith.com, to help increase awareness of the complexity underneath most political “talking points”.
I Side With - an online voting guide and tool for conscious voting
The Story of Citizens United v FEC - by Annie Leonard
Quotes from this episode:
“Not everything aligns with what we may believe.” - Angie Cross
“Power in the US is unusually decentralised for a strong nation. The fact that there are so many levers to that power should undermine narratives of presidential leadership. Alas, such complexity would not help television ratings.” - Erik Loomis
“The unelected bureaucrats in this country (U.S.A.) have more power over our daily lives than most of us recognize.” - John Feehery
“It’s easy for us to get angry, but it’s time for us to get smart because we have a democracy in crisis.” - Annie Leonard
“An average 43% of Americans identified politically as independents in 2014” - Gallup
“If we listen hard enough, we can dig down to the complexity hidden underneath the talking points and hyperbole and have positive, productive conversations with the other side that will actually move our country forward.” - Joe McGovern
“Simple us-versus-them, right-or-wrong, black-and-white games are much easier to process than the complexity of a pluralist system. But clearly, that simple game is not the best we can do.” - Michelle Holiday
Episode 042 - The Neuroscience Behind Your Vote
In this episode, Angie interviews Spencer Gerrol, human behavior specialist, applied neuroscience expert, and founder and CEO of SPARK Experience. Spencer shares the results from a research study he performed to gather biofeedback data from both Trump and Clinton supporters. He also discusses the importance of valuing and understanding emotions in order to make more mindful decisions.
'Whom are you voting for? This guy can read your mind.' - Washington Post article featuring SPARK Experience who "measured people’s brain waves to examine how much attention and the severity of emotion people felt while watching clips of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They found that what people feel and what people say they feel are rarely in sync.(Alice Li/The Washington Post)"
Quotes from this episode:
“You can not, as a human being, make a decision without emotion. It is impossible.” - Spencer Gerrol
“Every decision is influenced by emotion, emotion plays a major factor in every decision you make in life, and without emotion you can’t even decide.” - Spencer Gerrol
“We think we are rational beings, and if we go on assuming that and not really understanding how we make decisions in our everyday lives, then we actually act even more irrationally.” - Spencer Gerrol
“It’s very valuable for people to understand the value of their subconscious.” - Spencer Gerrol
“If people can recognize the value of allowing themselves to turn off the conscious brain and let their subconscious do what it’s designed to do, then we would all be better off, or at least we will understand our decisions in a more real-world way.” - Spencer Gerrol
“With great power comes great responsibility.” - Attributed to Spiderman
“If we can get deeper insights as to why people are making decisions & how emotion has an influence on that, we can lead innovation in a much more real way.” - Spencer Gerrol
“I don’t devalue big data, I do think it’s important, but if it’s the only way and people aren’t digging into the human-side, we are missing half of the equation.” - Spencer Gerrol
Episode 041 - Compassion in Chaos
In this episode, Haley interviews Republican strategist, columnist, and part-time lobbyist, John Feehery, on the complexity of politics in the United States of America. John describes his political outlook and shares how and why democracy requires a lot of personal accountability from all American citizens.
Quotes from this episode:
"I do think that democracy is all on us (American citizens)." - John Feehery
“There are ways to have your voice heard despite all the complexity.” - John Feehery
Stay Tuned for our interview with Spencer Gerrol, who is the founder and CEO of Spark Experience and a product called BrainWave. Check out a study Spencer performed using Brainwave to evaluate biofeedback from both Trump and Clinton supporters.
Episode 040 - The Myth of the Dysfunctional System
In this episode, Angie and Haley ask past guests—Benjamin Taylor, Angela Montgomery, Oleg Konovalov, and Sonja Blignaut—to share their thoughts on a quote by Jeff Lawrence. His quote states, “There is no such thing as a dysfunctional organization, because every organization is perfectly aligned to achieve the results it gets.”
Quotes from this episode:
“You have to appreciate why something [a system] is the way it is and how it’s’ learning to do that. And, you have to value what it’s creating and achieving.” - Benjamin Taylor
“If you’re looking at a system and you know what’s wrong, take a deep breath, wait, and see what happens next; see what you learn before you act and I think you might go a lot further.” - Benjamin Taylor
“We can say that an organization is dysfunctional when it works in a way that is not consistent with the goal it is supposed to pursue, so lack of clarity and understanding of the goal could easily produce dysfunctional organizational behavior which means behavior that is not consistent with that goal.” - Angela Montgomery
“What could be perceived as dysfunctional toward a stated goal can actual be extremely functional for a non verbalized one.” - Angela Montgomery
“Many organizations tend to lose their sharply defined goals or directions by rushing into something irrelevant, so wrongly set goals are making them dysfunctional. As a result, they are losing their core functions and abilities. I call this ‘goal perplexity’.” - Oleg Konovalov
“[This quote] perfectly describes how stuck we are in a mechanistic metaphor. We describe a system or a culture as being broken or needing fixing, as if it’s a machine.” - Sonja Blignaut
“We tend to think about self organization as just a positive thing, so we talk about self organizing teams in the agile space, for example. Complex systems or human systems are always self organizing, they may just not be organized in a way that we think is the way that it should be. This is something that we see as dysfunction, but it is something that is serving part of that system.” - Sonja Blignaut
Episode 039 - Company Culture: An Emergent and Evolving Phenomenon
Description: In this episode, Angie interviews Sonja Blignaut who is a narrative practitioner, change catalyst, and founder of a niche consultancy called More Beyond. Sonja shares how using a complexity thinking approach to study and influence company culture can help leaders avoid best practice recipes and reach positive organizational change.
You can find Sonja on Twitter @sonjabl
Watch Sonja's Ted Talk on TedxPretoria: Entrepreneuring Meaning
Quotes from this episode:
“The moment we think we know the answer, or even the question, we close down our options to explore and we can no longer find the things that we didn’t know to look for.” - Sonja Blignaut
“Keep a couple of pet mavericks around.” - Dave Snowden
“Hold your plans and outcomes very lightly. Focus on having a clear direction a purpose but not alignment to a specific goal.”- Sonja Blignaut
“In complexity, context is everything, there are no recipes. You really need to understand what the emergent contextual ideas are, and not just come in and apply your best practice recipes.” - Sonja Blignaut
“I believe that culture emerges. It’s not a thing, but an emergent property of a complex adaptive system.” - Sonja Blignaut
“We all have meaning-making skills and we do that through narratives.” - Sonja Blignaut
“It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.” - Mark Twain
“Always assume a posture of curiousity or not knowing. Be curious. Question assumptions.” - Sonja Blignaut
“Realize, that in complexity, diversity really matters. So, I surround myself with people who have radically different perspective than I do.” - Sonja Blignaut
“Think anew and act anew.” - Abraham Lincoln
Complexity Article referenced in this episode: "A Leader's Framework for Decision Making" by Dave Snowden
Episode 038 - A Philosophical Look at Company Culture
Description: In this episode, Haley interviews Benjamin Taylor, a business evolutionary, systems thinker, and avid learner. Benjamin discusses the intended and unintended consequences of systemic leadership, and he describes the philosophical side of company culture, as well as, how leaders can influence company culture.
Benjamin Taylor is a Managing Partner at RedQuadrant, Chief Executive at The Public Service Transformation Academy, and a non-executive Director at SCiO. Benjamin is a frequent contributor on model.report, an online forum for system thinkers. He is also a moderator on the Linkedin group System Thinking Network and co-host for the Outliers Inn Podcast.
Quotes from this episode:
“Most of my work is really helping people to do transformation or ‘serious change’ in public services.” - Benjamin Taylor
“Most people in this world should be trying to work themselves out of a job.” - Benjamin Taylor
“Once you’ve really explained system thinking, it starts to sound like common sense.” - Benjamin Taylor
“Meaning only ever emerges in context.” - Benjamin Taylor
“You cannot understand a system until you try to change it.” - Kurt Lewin
“It is easier to act yourself into a new way of thinking than it is to think yourself into a new way of acting.” - Millard Fuller
Episode 037 - The Complexity of Living Organizations
Description: In this episode, Haley interviews Dr. Oleg Konovalov, who is the author of a new management concept called Organisational Anatomy, which views organisational processes and functions from a biological perspective. Dr. Oleg shares some key concepts from his new book, along with several metaphoric examples to help unpack complexity and make it more digestible.
His book is titled: Organizational Anatomy
Quotes from this episode:
“Complexity is a pack of simple things; don’t make it unsolvable, don’t make it a mess” - Dr. Oleg Konovalov
“Professionalism is reflected in simple language.” - Dr. Oleg Konovalov
“Organizational culture is a catalyzer of performance...if negative, culture can be an inhibitor.” - Dr. Oleg Konovalov
"Complexity is always multi-dimensional, it is not flat.” Dr. Oleg Konovalov
“Things should be made as simple as possible. But not simpler.” - Albert Einstein
Episode 036 - Harnessing System Potential
Description: In this episode Angie interviews author, entrepreneur, and systemic thinking advocate, Angela Montgomery PhD. Angela discusses the importance of leadership education and systemic thinking within organizations, and she shares some key insights and tools for managing business complexity.
Angela Montgomery is the founder of Intelligent Management, which is an organization that guides CEOs & decision makers on systemic principles & methods to manage complexity. She is also the author of the business novel, The Human Constraint which is available for download. Her novel was inspired by the work of Dr. W. Edwards Deming and Eliyahu Goldratt. In her interview, she references the The Goal , a popular business novel by Eliyahu Goldratt.
One of her new projects is called Social Nation, which is “A Social Network that will enable us to grow together”. This exciting new online platform focuses on identity verification, privacy, and security.
In her interview, Angela also describes the “Core Conflict Cloud” which is a tool that provides a structure way for people to take a close look at their fears and desires.
Quotes from this episode:
"Systemic thinking is how we save the world, because the problems we are facing today are unprecedented." - Angela Montgomery
“Today we need a much more sophisticated type of organization that gives space for humans to be humans inside a human system.” - Angela Montgomery
"When people go to work, they shouldn't have to leave their hearts at home.” - Betty Bender
Episode 035 - Using System Science to Improve Community Health
Description: In this episode, Haley interviews Dr. Daniel Taber, a scientist who specializes in food policy and systems research. In his interview, Dr. Taber uses real-world language and examples to explain the complex relationship between system science, science communication, policy change, and public health.
System Science & Obesity - Coursera taught by Dr. Dan Taber in collaboration with John Hopkins University
Quotes from this episode:
“A key part of policy research is understanding how people and organizations adapt. And, of course, that’s a key part of complex systems research – understanding how people adapt to a “shock” in their environment.” - Dr. Daniel Taber
“A lot of science – particularly health science, where I work – is built to reflect an artificial world that’s very simple and unrealistic.” - Dr. Daniel Taber
“Complex systems research is more focused on what we observe in the real world and trying to understand the dynamics that take place, rather than creating this artificial world.” - Dr. Daniel Taber
“I think the key is understanding the systems that we live in, understanding those systems’ goals, and strategically thinking about how we can utilize them better.” - Dr. Daniel Taber
Episode 034 - Network Challenges within Child Welfare
Description: In this episode, Angie interviews D’Artagnan Caliman, a child welfare consultant, who discusses the complexity of serving 2 million people with many different interconnected network service groups and stakeholders. His enlightening case study reveals the importance of cause prevention within the child welfare system, rather than simply treating the symptoms of family dysfunction as they arise.
Quotes from this episode:
“Are we, as communities, thinking about what we can do as a human network to support families that are in need?” - D’Artagnan Caliman
“I really believe humans are the greatest resource for changing the world. It is up to us to be there for each other, our communities, and even people that we don’t know very well.” - D’Artagnan Caliman
“Our work is really focused on safety, permanency, and well-being of children and families...ensuring that a child and family is holistically successful.” - D’Artagnan Caliman
“If we are unsuccessful at helping children and families to become stable and viable within their communities, then we are failing our communities and we are failing our children.” - D’Artagnan Caliman
“We have to reach out to our constituent groups to find what is working and build upon those successes and also to hear from them on what is not working.” - D’Artagnan Caliman
Tavis Smiley Reports on PBS that the School to Prison Pipeline is “an epidemic that is plaguing schools across the nation. Far too often, students are suspended, expelled or even arrested for minor offenses that leave visits to the principal’s office a thing of the past. Statistics reflect that these policies disproportionately target students of color and those with a history of abuse, neglect, poverty or learning disabilities.”
From NY Times “The United States has less than 5 percent of the world's population. But it has almost a quarter of the world's prisoners.”
Episode 033 - Human Stories for Network Change
Description: In this episode, Haley interviews Jasper Faolan, a writer, psychiatric nurse practitioner, and founder of Journal to Save Your Life, which is a free, online mental health program. Jasper advocates for self-expression, like storytelling, as a way for people to heal from trauma and mental health problems. And, she explains how her non-profit (J2SYL) promotes social change by connecting the dots within complex adaptive systems.
Journal to Save Your Life is a therapy program, which consists of a one to 52 week online program for young women around the ages of 13 to 29. The program is carefully curated around specific personal struggles, from addiction and body image to toxic relationships. With a concrete foundation from psychology scholars, the program aims to help young women build social skills, reframe negative thoughts and inspire artistic expression in an effort to promote self-love and healing.
Also check out Billy Poole’s story #projectselfiesdefeatdepression
Episode 032 - Exploring Complex Human Networks
Description: In this episode, Stacy interviews Angie about the ins and outs of action research for her Master’s in Leadership project. They also introduce the topic of complex human networks with guest Mary Anne Herrick, who is the Communication’s Program Officer at World Vision and the President of Foster Care Alumni of America (FCAA). FCAA is also the sponsoring organization for Angie’s Master project.
Angie is working on her MA in Leadership at Royal Roads University
May is Foster Care Month! Please click here to donate to FCAA.
You can watch this video to learn more about Mary Herrick's amazing work with World Vision.
“Action research became the opposite of scientific research. Instead of standing outside the experiment, watching what happens and writing up your findings, you become a learner in a situation you helped devise. You develop a stake. You assume responsibility.” - Marvin Wiesbord, Productive Workplaces
“Cheers to emergent social networks powered by shared narratives and shared values.” - Stacy Hale
031 - Understanding Complexity in Context, A Reflection Episode
Description: In this throwback episode, Haley shares some clips from past guests: Diego Espinosa, TK Coleman, Gloria Burgess, and Jason Dykstra. The interview clips we share are responses to these questions: what is a self organizing system, how did you become interested in systems thinking, and why does understanding complexity matter?
“I grew up in a complex system.” - Gloria Burgess
“A self organizing system is basically a system in which order emerges from the different pieces following simple rules and interacting with each other.. and that order is kind of magical.” - Diego Espinosa
“Understanding context and what systems theory has to say can shine light on apparent discrepancies.” - TK Coleman
“Understanding how we can approach complexity is so useful in our everyday life...complexity is all around us...it’s a great opportunity to learn more about ourselves and our role within the world.”- Jason Dykstra
Episode 030 - How to Apply Human-Centered Design
Description: In this episode, Angie interviews Andrea Ippolito, who is the Innovator's Network Lead at the Department of Veteran Affairs. Andrea shares how human-centered design is implemented and deployed at the VA in order to create exceptional experiences for our veterans. Her examples and advice are helpful for anyone wanting to build an innovation strategy using design and systems thinking methods.
"Design thinking forces you to understand the context in which your user operates and live and what they appreciate and don't appreciate." - Andrea Ippolito
"Using design thinking actual helps reduce rework, because you are so focused on your users...you're impacting the bottom line on both ends of the spectrum both with operation and sales." - Andrea Ippolito
“It’s not ‘us versus them’ or even ‘us on behalf of them.’ For a design thinker it has to be ‘us with them'”– Tim Brown, CEO and President of IDEO
Episode 029 - Design Led Innovation with Jon Kolko, VP of Design at Blackboard
Description: In this episode, Haley interviews Jon Kolko, the VP of Design at Blackboard and the founder of the Austin Center for Design. He is also an author of several books, including Well-Designed: How to Use Empathy to Create Products People Love, which is discussed in this episode. Jon shares his vast knowledge and experience with complexity, design, and problem solving.
“Ideas are free, if you don’t make them they are up for grabs.” - Jon Kolko
"Design is about making things, it’s a verb, not necessarily a noun." - Jon Kolko
"What good is an idea if it stays in your head?" - Angela Cross
"Design is about making things for people and thinking about them critically...it is both strategic and tactical." - Jon Kolko
"I have no misconceptions that designers can ‘solve’ massive problems, or even approach them on their own without collaboration from other disciplines. But I feel strongly that designers make great agents of change and can champion new and novel approaches to old and tired problems. The best indicator of design success, in my experience, is a passion to make an impact, and I see a generation that is wildly passionate about addressing social problems." - Jon Kolko
HBR article: Design Thinking Comes of Age
Episode 028 - Leaping into Design Thinking with Thought Leader Turi McKinley from frog design
Description: In this episode, Angie interviews Turi McKinley from frog design, a global design and strategy firm. As a leader at frog, Turi regularly utilizes design thinking principles in order to excel frog’s thought leadership initiatives. During her interview, Turi explains the complex topic of design thinking in layman’s terms, as well as why design thinking is an essential mindset for anyone dealing with complex, wicked problems.
At Frog, Turi leads the frogCamp program, which builds the capabilities and processes that enable teams to transform the way they approach user centered design and innovation.
Turi’s online Lynda course: “Design Thinking: Lead Change in your Organization”
“Stop talking & start making!” - Turi McKinley
"You need to have multiple perspectives together in order to make a solution that is meaningful to the user, appropriate for the business, and sustainable in the market." - Turi McKinley
“You should talk and plan collaboratively as a team but more importantly DO, build & make something together.” - Angie Cross
“Turi is great at taking this complex topic of design and breaking it down to layman’s terms. It goes to show how well she understands it.” - Angie Cross
Episode 027 - Applying Design Thinking to Complex, Wicked Problems
Description: How do we take an understanding of complexity and apply it to how we handle “wicked problems”? Is design thinking an innovative action plan for approaching complex problems? In this episode, Angie talks with our former co-host Stacy Hale to address these questions and take a closer look at what “design thinking” really means.
Stacy Hale is the Managing Editor of design4emergence, a digital magazine which blends network science, design thinking, and strategy for better decision making in the age of networks.
The premiere issue will be available this week at design4emergence.com You can also find them on Twitter
Design Thinking is “a methodology to solve complex problems, and find desirable solutions.” - Creativity at work
Episode 026 - Mindfulness: Complexity’s Best Friend
Description: In this episode, Haley interviews hypnotherapist and wellness coach, Pilar Angel, to discuss the power of mindfulness. Pilar shares some tips and tricks for practicing mindfulness and explains how this practice can reduce stress and improve overall performance.
The acronym RAIN, first coined about 20 years ago by Michele McDonald, is an easy-to-remember tool for practicing mindfulness. It has four steps:
1. Recognize, what is going on
2. Allow, the experience to be there, just as it is
3. Investigate, with kindness
4. Natural awareness, which comes from not identifying - not judging it
"Understand that you are an observer of your thoughts and your own complexity will become less mysterious.” - Pilar Angel
“The most complex system that exists is your own mind.” - Pilar Angel
"Life consists only of moments, nothing more than that. So if you make the moment matter, it all matters. You can be mindful, you can be mindless. You can win, you can lose. The worst case is to be mindless and lose. So when you’re doing anything, be mindful, notice new things, make it meaningful to you, and you’ll prosper."- Ellen Langer
Episode 025 - System Theories, Racism & Human Relationships
Description: In this episode, Haley interviews TK Coleman to discuss how humans allow their conflicting mental models to influence the way they handle controversial topics like racism. TK also shares how understanding context and patterns within human systems ultimately empowers us to actively contribute to human progress.
“The perception of a problem is a problem.” - TK Coleman
"Your identity is larger than your behavior." - TK Coleman
“If human beings were only capable of treating problems that everyone was affected by, nothing productive would ever get done.” - TK Coleman
“[Politics and the left/right dichotomy] cause us to miss out on the essence of what people are saying.” - TK Coleman
“Politics has dominated the discussion on race.” - TK Coleman
“We are not human doings, we are human beings.” - Neil Anderson, Victory Over the Darkness
“Reality is objective, but meaning is contextual.” - Barbara Hanson, General Systems Theory: Beginning with Wholes
“We have made enormous progress in teaching everyone that racism is bad. Where we seem to have dropped the ball… is in teaching people what racism actually IS.” - Jon Stewart
General Systems Theory by Ludwig Von Bertalanffy
Episode 024 - Discover Your Intercultural Intelligence
Description: In this episode, Angie interviews motivational speaker, author, and leadership coach, Gloria Burgess, to discuss patterns and systems within human history. Gloria explains that because we are truly interconnected systems, how we relate to ourselves and each other matters. We all have the ability to gain “intercultural intelligence” in order to move through the world and systems differently.
"When you allow racial disparity and institutional inequity to affect one part of the country, eventually it's coming back to get everyone." - Tim Wise
"Light comes in at the edges and end of a pattern, so a new pattern can begin" - Gloria Burgess
"The institution of racism, is something we built with power and privilege..if we built it we can unbuild it." - Gloria Burgess
"When we are overwhelmed and confused... we reach for the old maps, the routine responses, what worked in the past...But to navigate life today, we definitely need new maps... The maps we need are in us, but not in only one of us. If we read the currents and signs together, we'll find our way through.” - Margaret Wheatley
Episode 023 - Throwback to 2015
In this episode, Angie and Haley reflect upon the Human Current’s journey of curiosity, learning, and exploration in 2015. They listen to a few clips and highlights from some past guests including: Michele Battle-Fisher, Jason Dykstra, Isaac Morehouse, and Bonnie Caver. The complexity team compiled this episode to further explore and validate the theory that a complexity or systems thinking lens can be used in all aspects of life.
"We started this podcast as a passion project based on our mentor, Douglas Drane's idea of getting the concept of complexity and systems thinking out to the world." - Angie Cross
"We have interviewed some great minds from fields of study like Healthcare Policy, Education, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Finance, Economics, and Emergency Planning.." - Angie Cross and Haley Campbell
“Whether we look at team dynamics, the evolution of strategies, or the behavior of markets--the pattern of local interactions, emergence, and feedback is apparent.” -Martin Reeves, Simon Levin, and Daichi Ueda
Episode 022 - Turning Affordable Housing on It’s Head
In this episode Angie and Lindsey interview Walter Moreau, the Executive Director for Foundation Communities, a nonprofit which creates housing where families succeed. Walter discusses how the foundation leverages a systems-approach to affordable housing in order to provide a successful, sustainable program for families. His inspirational stories help paint a picture of how networks can work together to influence change within systemic problems.
You can also find Foundation Communities on Twitter.
“It is often tempting to assume that the agents of a system are all basically the same” - Harnessing Complexity
“Beyond systems thinking [approaching affordable housing] is more chaos theory...you have to be able to roll with the ups and downs of development” - Walter Moreau
“Affordable housing isn’t for ‘those people’, it’s for us - people we know [our community].” - Walter Moreau
Episode 021 - Cultivating Social Resilience
In this episode, we interview sociologist and fellow podcaster Josh Morgan. He is the host of “The Plural of You”, a podcast inspired by stories of human good. We discuss how complex social problems influence our human networks and relationships. And, Josh helps us identify different ways in which ordinary people can influence systems-level issues, like social trust.
You can also find our guest Josh Morgan on Twitter
"A society grows great when its people plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in." - Ancient Greek Proverb
"What makes humanity so interesting is that our complexities can't be explained with one theory because we're so highly adaptive." - Josh Morgan
"I feel my purpose as a researcher is to answer questions about complex social problems and report on them as simply as I can." - Josh Morgan
Episode 020 - The Energy that Binds Us
In this episode we say goodbye to Stacy as she moves on to new adventures and introduce our next guest, Josh Morgan, a sociologist and fellow podcaster. We discuss the meaning of the term HumanCurrent, which encompasses the complex connections that shape and influence us: our evolving human mind, our personal and professional networks, our ideas and our history. We each play a role in the development and evolution of our humanity and the energy that binds us, our human current.
Although we are saddened to lose her wonderful voice, lively spirit, and innovative mind, we are forever changed and connected to our friend and co-host, Stacy Hale. And, we celebrate that she is moving on to another amazing opportunity -- Cheers to Stacy!
"We share ideas with each other, yet we can each create uniquely from the same idea." - Stacy Hale
"We ebb and flow, expand beyond our current situation, and connect to other networks." - Angie Cross
"The HumanCurrent is putting humanity into complexity, a very intelligent and academic subject." - Stacy Hale
"I try to encourage everyone to see humanity as this whole, but at the same time recognize that we are all constituent parts of this whole...we all have a role to play whether we like it or not." - Josh Morgan
"I become interested in the complexity of things like social hierarchies, just to understand what structures, if any, support these problems (like social trust), as well as how they affect social resilience among different populations." - Josh Morgan
Be sure to check out the rest of our interview with Josh Morgan, which will air December 3rd!