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Complexity and the unconscious

Change in complex systems is inherently unpredictable.

An element of randomness makes a system more robust.

P10 Media Book (2010)

The world is changing fast …

So let’s turn to science. JH Science and instability

  • More appropriate metaphors
  • Doing what comes naturally.

Prof. Brian Goodwin (Canadian) Schumacher College

  • Emergent properties, you can only know a lot about the properties.
  • Interest in complexity, a science focusing on emergent prop ties, from the interaction of their components and relationships. Not the properties themselves, but their interactions.

E.g. Interbeat interval in the Heartbeat intervals in psysiology we live on the edge of chaos.

Complexity theory where control fails.

JH Prof. Ralph Stacy, University of Hertfordshire.

An invitation to take seriously our inability to predict long term outcomes.  In business, metaphor of relationship in complex adaptive processes of interactions and responses.


Looking at the patterns, not individuals, and that intentions are forever emerging in conversations. Notion of using a prescription from a case study that has worked in one place because of its whole context doesn’t work in another.

Creativity and complexity.

If there is diversity. Enough deviants! A systems properties to evolve only if characterised by a critical degree of diversity. Allowing for deviance and complexity.

Prof. Richard Pascale, Change guru, Templeton College, Oxford.

A world full of dynamic turmoil. Big effort, poor yield suggests the way you are looking at things is off the mark. Equilibrium, forced or unintended, due to long tenured staff or stuck with a deified product (IBM and mainframes) can be problematic.

What happens when a company becomes stuck in a rut.

Trying to operate on the edge of chaos gives a company the capacity to deal with deviance.  How to we reach beyond our grasp. The challenge … To create opportunities for people to come up with ideas that aggregate and surprise.To cause people to be self-questioning.

E.g. Life on Earth.

E.g.$3 bn to exterminate the Kayote which bred with the Canadian wolf and is now 30% larger and smarter.

Equilibrium is a precursor to death.

Operate with an element of variety to cope with the unexpected. Self-organisation emerges spontaneously. You cannot control or direct a living system.

Prof. Brian Goodwin

As in science. Ecosystems, communities and economies a unpredictable. Continually emergent creativity.

JH Prof. Guy Claxton, psychologist, University of Bristol Managing our minds.

A powerful learning machine. Will fish out understanding from the complex. Implicit learning is good at spotting patterns whee there is a good deal of complexity.

Fishing around, shutting out the conscious intellect …

We can think too much, it is deleterious.

N.B. In complex, novel and ambiguous situations our unconscious information processor has a greater capacity to perceive and understand the complex patterns involved involved than the conscious mind. The situation is that information is incomplete, uncertain, ambiguous, complex and novel so intuitive, and slower exploratory thinking is likely to be more productive.

Doing things in a hurry is often not required by events.

Analytical, computer mentalities are leading us to ignore innovation.

Have the idea, then find the plausible story.

The importance of tacit knowledge

Space for the dreamy thinking?

Don’t respond immediately to what a person has said; give it space, a sense of corporate exploration. It is impossible to create a plan and retain control.

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