Articles: Mind

It’s (partially) complicated

In my professional work, I think a lot about the differences between simple and complex systems. As I wrote in my earlier article “It’s (not) complicated”: “We all understand simple mechanical systems like pulleys. Complex systems, like rainforests, however, work differently. They exhibit unique characteristics, including modularity, homeostasis, self-organization, resilience, emergence, non-linearity, inter-dependence with other complex systems, and collapse.”   Some systems actually are complicated, though, or at least partially complicated—more like a Rube Goldberg machine than…

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Beyond average thinking

Before we look at data sets, we can all cultivate better data sense. To that end, I’d encourage us all to look at one common kind of data with suspicion: the average. We all use averages on a daily basis—e.g., when we split a dinner bill or keep tabs on our favorite athletes. They can be useful. But the following examples show how these easy-to-compute shorthands can also lead us astray. Making money online For a pure…

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It’s (not) complicated

We all understand simple mechanical systems like pulleys. Complex systems, like rain forests, however, work differently. They exhibit unique characteristics, including modularity, homeostasis, self-organization, resilience, emergence, non-linearity, inter-dependence with other complex systems, and collapse. In work and life, we encounter complex systems every day. They include: Human brains Human bodies Human relationships Organizational cultures Financial markets Digital media ecosystems Competitive business environments Global climate One sure-fire way to make big mistakes is to expect complex systems to behave like simple ones. You’ll…

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Unstorytelling

Our default way of experiencing the world is through stories. Whether they come from the latest Good Wife episode, the companies we purchase from, or the theater of our minds, stories are safe-to-consume simulations about how things were, are, will be, or could be. I love stories, and they can do many good things: They entertain us. They help us contemplate what we would do in unfamiliar situations. They help us act. They make abstract concepts relatable and…

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Navigating through chaos

We all get overwhelmed sometimes. Our stories, resources, and energy can be insufficient to accommodate a new reality. We become disorganized, inefficient. Like any complex system, we enter a chaos state. This is an ever-present possibility for even the most enlightened or skilled individual. In a chaos state, we often find ourselves clinging to old ideas, to losses, to hopes for the future. We try to run the old program, even though the operating system has changed. Sometimes reality will shift back to…

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