• Alys

Balancing act

Finding balance when life pulls you in different directions..

Create Adapt and The Change Collective have been exploring how to find balance in a complex world. Using metaphor and experience design we're finding simple ways to share deep theory.


What is Complexity Theory

Complexity theory helps us to acknowledge that social systems are complex, constantly changing and unpredictable. Stock markets, societies, schools, people… are all complex because they are linked to a vast fluctuating web of systems. With this in mind complexity theory offers insights for how to work more effectively in our complex world.


Key Concepts

Why was there a storm in Texas? Why did the North African revolutions happen?

Why do stock markets crash? Why do some strategies succeed and others fail?


Complexity Theory offers insights.

- Systems change is often at the root of social / environmental change.

- Emerges organically: complex systems in nature and society can emerge organically.

- Simple rules: Autonomous agents (which may include people) following simple rules can, over time, unintentionally, self-organise into complex systems.

- Initial conditions: the conditions or environment in which new systems emerge strongly influences their structure and behaviour over time.

- Adapting: Complex systems respond actively to transform whatever happens to their advantage.

- Unpredictable with patterns of probability (order and chaos combined): what happens in complexity is unpredictable but patterns emerge and, as you learn more about systems dynamics, a more sophisticated understanding of probabilities can be established (for example weather forecasts).


Simple, complicated or complex?

Systems are often described as being simple, complicated or complex. The way you work with a system (or a problem) is determined, in part, by the nature of the system/s you are working with.

Complexity theory suggests that knowing when and how to lean towards order or towards flexibility is key to making good strategic choices. Your choices should be informed by whether the conditions or issues you’re working on are simple, complicated or chaotic (lean> order) or complex (lean> flexible).

How could this change the way people learn?


These insights potentially impact on everything from understanding how the brain works, to effective parenting, to teaching policy and practice. A deeper understanding of how complexity theory can be applied is emerging all the time.


At The Change Collective summer lab we tried out this experimental approach to exploring how to navigate complexity:


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