# Learning Complexity — Leadership Series – 1

Here is one of many toys I use in my classes on Leadership in Complexity to demonstrate complexity through play. It is a simple and common toy – a double pendulum. It is interesting to see how interactions between few elements really produce complexity. So, the question that I ask at the beginning of a session – ‘Can we predict what is going to happen?

We have made a video demonstration of it. It is about 5 mins. Hope you would find it engaging. You may choose to skip it if you like. I suggest a try. While you are viewing it mentally start predicting what might happen the next instant…

Predicting Complexity? ( <– click on the adjoining link to view the video)

What do you find?

Is complexity predictable or not?

On the face of it it appears that it isn’t predictable at all. The movements of the loose limbs of the double pendulum simply go crazy. It is not or nearly not possible to predict. Every time we think something like this might happen it usually turns out to be something else. It appears that there are no definite patterns about it. It is too random to make sense. No doubt this is what always happens in complex adaptive systems.

But then I show how complexity can be predicted along with many of its principles.

At first it feels rather strange to realize how all complex systems or complex adaptive systems are inherently predictable as an ensemble in the short run and how they all follow the same rules of the game.

That is really fascinating. It gives us tremendous hope to embrace complexity with faith. There is no point in ignoring complexity since we are entangled with it every moment of our lives. But once we embrace it knowing fully well how to read, learn and go about it —  life is simple indeed. The objective of learning about complexity and applying its principles is to make life simpler; not more complex.

That promises us an alternative way to lead our own lives through creativity and adaptation.

This alternative Leadership path can be summed up by three simple rules, which are —

1. Explain what is happening.

2. Institute methods to Foresee what might happen in the short term

3. Envision desired Interventions to make the system flow in the right direction.

Three of the best designed interventions that I found are a) Education b) Interactions c) Design. These give long term ongoing benefit for many.

So what do you feel and think about it?

Acknowledgement:

(I personally thank my colleague Trichur for prototyping complexity through this model. )

## 9 thoughts on “Learning Complexity — Leadership Series – 1”

1. Modeling complex systems and using that data for prediction is best seen currently in two environments. Nate Silver is known for his work in modeling and predicting the elections of 2008 and 2012. There is a producer in Hollywood who uses data analysis to predict which movies will be successful. I am working on an operational model for education; would love to collaborate with anyone interested.

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1. Thanks for your comments. It is so good to know that you are working on an operational model for education keeping complexity in mind. We would love to collaborate with you. Why not? We are also thinking in similar lines. What are the basic parameters you have in mind?

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2. I am looking at educational curriculum reform. Teaching kids How to Think, rather than just What to Think. I have my premise. i now need to find people to bounce my ideas off of/collaborate with. My rough notes are here: http://thinklovelead.com.

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3. Emily,
What I’ve been looking are real time indicators of moving in a positive directions. As of today my bet is real time attendance numbers would provide early warning signals for kids at risk. The trick is to reframe attendance to see it as an indicator of success at the level of the school and an indicator of a kid who needs resources before it goes down the wrong path.

It’s pretty clear that there are many reasons for not attending. Usually needs social service and agile responses to life situations.

It’s a much longer story, especially using the nemetics framework.

I would love to hear any reactions or thoughts you might have about how we might be able to collaborate on getting to something useful – especially in New York.

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4. Absentee data is certainly an indicator of the population to target. I would like to take a broader stance, and address all students. Additional indicators are: GPA. College enrollment numbers. Incidents of bullying.

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5. We could draft a business plan, contact the Education Department for the figures we need. Then pitch the city on a beta test with a couple schools in the city.

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6. Emily ,

I am very happy to collaborate with you on a pitch to DoE and add my 2¢ as appropriate. But you should know I’m retired so getting into the trenches is not for me anymore.

Having said that I like very much “Incidents of bullying” I have a problem with GPA, college enrollment as the data comes in too late to be able to inform decisions that have to happen fast enough to make a difference…

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7. I would love your input. I understand your level of desired involvement; no worries. As far as GPA and college enrollment stats – I propose we use those figures as a jumping off point to get the program into the schools. After that, once the program is in full swing, we can develop a solid way to use teacher feedback and student feedback to measure efficacy.

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8. Reblogged this on Get "fit for randomness" [with Ontonix UK] and commented:
That is really fascinating. It gives us tremendous hope to embrace complexity with faith. There is no point in ignoring complexity since we are entangled with it every moment of our lives. But once we embrace it knowing fully well how to read, learn and go about it — life is simple indeed. The objective of learning about complexity and applying its principles is to make life simpler; not more complex.

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