Posts Categorized: Complexity

yes, all models are wrong

“Remember that all models are wrong; the practical question is how wrong do they have to be to not be useful.” —George Box So how do we know when a model — particularly one of our preferred mental models — is wrong? It is difficult to change our mind but that is what any good… Read more »

leave standard methods to the machines

Any situation at work can first be looked at from the perspective of — is this a known problem or not? If it’s known, then the answer can be looked up or the correct person found to deal with it. Known problems require access to the right information to solve them. This information can be… Read more »

human engagement counters misinformation

A recent study conducted by Facebook suggests that when it comes to vaccine doubts and misinformation, “a small group appears to play a big role in pushing the skepticism”. Some of the early findings are notable: Just 10 out of the 638 population segments contained 50 percent of all vaccine hesitancy content on the platform…. Read more »

trust emerges over time

Imagine a research-intensive organization where scientists should be sharing what they learn, and the official company policy is to share information and expertise among public and private partners. However, the company is ‘downsizing’ and layoffs are based on performance reviews. If one scientist helps a peer develop a patented product, and as a result the… Read more »

six ways to make sense

One of the big consultancies is promoting ‘six ways’ to make sense of these complex times, or words to that effect. If you believe you are getting leading-edge thinking from these types of businesses, think again. Here is a story about a major consulting company, from one of its own. “Despite having no work or… Read more »

retrieving the cooperative imperative

The biggest challenges facing us today are climate change and environmental degradation. The current pandemic is a symptom of these situations. These are complex issues without simple answers or explanations, because with complex problems the relationship between cause and effect is only seen after the fact. As H.L Mencken stated, “Explanations exist; they have existed… Read more »

sometimes perfection is the enemy of the good

While many of our professions and organizations can deal with some complexity, few are adapted to deal with chaos on a large scale. Chaos — violent political action, climate change, pandemic — requires structures that promote curiosity and resolve. With frequent chaotic events to deal with we have to organize in temporary, negotiated hierarchies that… Read more »

let’s stop the war of words

A November 2019 article in the British Medical Journal showed how difficult it is to change peoples’ minds, especially with regards to vaccinations. Facts don’t change peoples’ minds. Lesson 2: don’t bring a fact to a narrative fight Experts and health professionals can arm themselves with white papers, peer reviewed studies, and symposia; but if… Read more »

get out to the edges

In March [making sense of our digital world] I wrote that my own understanding of the COVID-19 disease started with centres of networked expertise — WHO, CDC, Public Health Agency of Canada. By September [connecting knowledge] I wrote that I see information from the WHO and CDC as lagging indicators, and no longer my first… Read more »