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Unpossible

‘Post-truth’ was named the Oxford Dictionary word of the year. No fitting word reflects the strangeness of 2016 with the exception of unpossible, a word I made up and in a post-truth world might as well be as legitimate as many of the arguments being made about the most important things of the day, which […]

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You Want It Darker?

It is poetic irony on many levels that weeks after Leonard Cohen releases his album about the threat of death that he passes on, mere days after we saw the least poetic, most crass election campaign end in the United States with an equally dramatic outcome. This points to art, but also to the science of […]

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When More is Less: The Information Paradox

There is a point at which information ceases to increase knowledge and understand and begins to undermine it, creating a paradox. When information on nearly anything is more abundant than ever the choices we make about how to engage it become more important than ever.  The Information Age has been described as the period where […]

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Culture and heritage: Social systems in four dimensions

International sporting events like the World Cup and the Olympics provide intriguing examples of the complexity and situated-nature of culture and heritage as people from all walks of life reveal, (re) create, adopt and adapt to some form of unique and shared identity, even if temporarily. This situated-ness is what illustrates one of the most substantial […]

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Diversity / Complexity in Focus

  As cities and regions worldwide celebrate Pride the role of diversity, understanding and unity has been brought to mind just as it has contemplating the British public’s choice to leave the EU with Brexit. Both events offer lessons in dealing with complexity and why diversity isn’t about either/or, but more both and neither and […]

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(Re) Making our World

Britain’s vote to leave the European Union is a nod to the future and the past and both perspectives illustrate how citizens everywhere are struggling with how to best make their world – and to what extent that’s possible. These are design choices with systems implications that will be felt far beyond those who are […]

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Authentic baloney and other sincere problems

What does it mean to be authentic in an age of design and complex social systems? It’s not as simple as you think and, as two high-profile psychologists point out, not something that’s easily agreed upon, either.  Over the past week, two high-profile psychologists and authors Adam Grant and Brene Brown have been engaged in a […]

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Confusing change-making with actual change

Change-making is the process of transformation and not to be confused with the transformed outcome that results from such a process. We confuse the two at our peril. “We are changing the world” is a rallying cry from many individuals and organizations working in social innovation and entrepreneurship which is both a truth and untruth at the […]

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Systems thinking and collective impact

When we seek change the temptation is looking for ‘the key’ component of a problem or situation that, if changed, is expected to lead to profound transformation. Too frequently these type of solutions fail not because the change to the component is poor, but that the thinking is not aligned to the system that contributes […]

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Systems thinking and the simple plan

  Planning is something that is done all the time, but the shape in which these plans unfold is often complex in hidden ways. Without the same resources to evaluate those plans (and make different ones should they change) many organizations are left with great expectations that don’t match the reality of what they do (and can […]

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