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Posted by Philip on 13 January 2015, 3:56 pm in , , , , , , , ,

Adding complexity to the mix

red and yellow squiggles on a black backgroundMost Januaries I do a little bit of rebranding. I reflect on the previous year’s work, on the changes I’ve faced personally and professionally and on the kind of work I want to do over the next year.

It’s not a big, fancy process. Mostly it’s intuitive. Mine is not a big business — hell, it’s hardly even small! It’s me essentially — along with a small team and a few associates — offering my unique life and professional experience to help others in a variety of ways.

This year, I’ve made two changes to my brand. Firstly, I’ve de-emphasised diversity. It’s still in the mix, but it sits equally alongside other elements. Secondly, I’ve changed creativity to complexity. That’s not to say I’m not creative or that creativity is not complex; quite the opposite. 

But complexity is something I’m intrigued by and, if I may say so myself, I think I deal with rather well, having had a fair bit of experience with it. It’s also something, I have observed, that goes unnoticed, ignored, or run from. Because we find complexity a bit scary and we’d rather things were simple (like making a cake) or complicated (like building a spaceship)*.

Ironically, we are surrounded by complexity pretty much all the time. Humans are complex, relationships are complex, society is complex, nature and the environment are complex.

But notice how we simplify people by calling them good or bad. The Ferguson US issue is a classic example. Deciding whether cops are racist or not doesn’t scratch the surface — throw in poverty, gun laws, authority, the justice system, education — now you begin to see the big historic muddle that ended up in a controversial shooting.

Or we make things terribly complicated, like the economy. We teach a few people some secrets and big words, call them economists and tell everyone else to believe what they say, because economics is complicated. Actually, economics is a hugely complex mess of money, authority (again), politics, greed, poverty (again) etc.

So there’s lots of complexity around, believe me, masquerading as simplicity and complication. And I want a bit (more) of calling it what it is this year.

I said earlier that I have de-emphasised diversity. Up until now I’ve kind of been the “diversity guy”, which is not the worst I’ve been called. But there are other strings to my bow.

Leadership is something I know a bit about, having set up and run numerous teams, organisations and projects over the past 20 years. Not to mention having co-created and -directed a leadership programme that, this year, will celebrate five years.

So leadership, diversity and complexity create a dynamic trio that, when well-understood and well-executed, have huge potential to create change, on personal, organisational, community and wider levels. Change is something that, like complexity, fascinates me while I see people shy away fromit. Yet it happens, whatever we do.

Leadership, diversity, complexity, change. Four things that get me up in the morning. Four things we engage with everyday, knowingly or not, willingly or not, intentionally or not.

A complex little mix, don’t you think? See you in the thick of it.

(*Examples of simple and complicated borrowed from Getting to Maybe: How the World Is Changed.

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