Insights from the inaugural Complexity in Human Systems Symposium

13 December 2019 | Sonja Blignaut


The inaugural Complexity in  Human Systems Symposium took place in Washington early in November.  Having so many thought leaders and a diverse group of practitioners together in one room led to rich conversations and new connections.  


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Some of the insights that stood out for me:

  • A system can be too fit, so perfectly attuned to a particular environment that it becomes brittle when the environment changes.  
  • We need to pay more attention to temporal constraints (vs spatial or cultural).  Timing, rhythm etc is important in complexity.
  • Micro-diversity matters (small businesses, local newspapers; micro-biome in the human body).
  • The ability to “stand in uncertainty” is a key capability.  If our capacity to be in uncertainty is too limited it has frightening implications: anyone who promises certainty will have followers.
  • How can we awaken to questions we are not even aware of?
  • Self-organisation vs order creation … is order creation a more useful lens?
  • Resilience is the continuation of function, not structure.

If you missed this event, make sure you don’t miss the one in 2020.  The group unanimously decided to make this an annual event.