Trivialising complexity highlights ignorance

Think about how human life has developed in the course of the last say 50 years – I turned 44 this year btw. Think how societal, political, religious, technological and scientific landscapes has evolved, cemented or regressed during this period.

Then think of the diversity of an organisation’s roster; each individual’s date of birth, societal origin & upbringing, socioeconomic background, sources of education, health, work experience, companies they’ve worked for etc. Imagine how these attributes shape each person’s frame of reference and its effect on their attitudes, identity, propensities and attractors. Picture these people collaborating day to day, towards a common goal (hopefully), on complex & ambiguous challenges and with high expectations. Sometimes under great urgency, rarely acknowledging the significance of their attributes in the context of the collective and always living life outside of work. Now picture a situation where they all agree that collaboration has been causing considerable frustration.

My guess is that you’ve experienced this situation and heard well intentioned people say things such as “We need to improve our communication”, “We need to use common sense”, “We need to have a clear process for this”. I for one regularly hear these statements.

Here’s some news;

Stating such things trivialises the complexity of human life and organisation. It highlights the ignorance of the person stating it. If a person with authority states such things it undermines other peoples ability to improve circumstances.

So, what situations are you trivialising?
Everyone does it, including me. If you haven’t already, now is the time to acknowledge complexity and explore available research, concepts, doctrine, principles, tools etc. Then apply and practice next time you notice trivialisation. Thank me and other sources later.

Here’s 👇🏾 some available sources to get you started.

If you’re looking for something to digest relatively quickly

Beyond Process Management – Klara Palmberg’s doctoral thesis
Cynefin framework – Dave Snowden on context awareness
Mind your language – How analogies effects conditions
Complexity Conscious – Increasing consciousness on complexity

If you’re looking to explore more in detail

7 Rules for Positive, Productive Change – Esther Derby on complex change
Dave Snowden in general on navigating complexity
Range – David Epstein on generalists strengths during complexity
Radical uncertainty – John Kay & Mervyn King on decisions during uncertainty
Brave New Work – Aaron Dignan on complexity conscious

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