Search Results for "complexity"

Using Graphics to Cut Through Covid’s Complexity

Guest post from Heather Marquette The international Covid-19 response so far makes clear that ‘one size doesn’t fit all’, and that the urgent interpretation and application of science is hugely challenging and is framed by political room for manoeuvre.  ‘One size doesn’t fit all’ is easy to say, but hard to do. As well as […]

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Achilles v Ulysses and Complexity, according to the OECD

Just been browsing a new OECD book on what complexity and systems thinking mean for policy-making. It consists of ‘a compilation of contributions from a series of seminars and workshops on complexity issues over the past two years. It reflects the combined wisdom and perspectives of an internal and external network of researchers, academics and policymakers.’ […]

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Complexity v Simplicity: the challenge for Campaigners and Reformers

Had a few thought-provoking conversations on this last week. I increasingly see most problems (social, political, economic) as complex, i.e. arising from multiple causes in interconnected systems, often highly dependent on the specific context and history of any given place/population. My campaigner friends generally hate such talk, because their gut feeling is that it makes […]

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A 3-fold theory of social change (and some great quotes on complexity, ambiguity and dreaming)

Sometimes a paper is worth blogging about just for the quotes. Here are the best from a 2016 update of Doug Reeler’s ‘A Three-Fold Theory of Social Change’: “I would not give a fig for the simplicity on this side of complexity. But I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side.” […]

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Which of these three books on complexity and development is right for you? Review/user’s guide

Dave Algoso (@dalgoso ) with a handy guide to what to read for those wondering what all this complexity stuff is about In the last few years, complexity thinking has found its way into general development discourse. Anyone reading this blog or others has likely encountered some of the terminology, even if the technical pieces remain […]

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Embracing Complexity – a good new book on systems thinking (and action)

Jean Boulton is a regular both here on the blog and in the corridors of Oxfam. She’s a onetime theoretical physicist turned consultant, and one of her passions is complexity and systems thinking, and their implications for how organizations, including development agencies, go about their work. Now she’s teamed up with fellow lapsed physicist Peter […]

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If Complexity was a person, she would be a Socialist. Jean Boulton on the politics of systems thinking.

Jean Boulton (physicist, management consultant and social scientist, right) responds to Owen Barder’s Wednesday post on thinking of development as a property of a complex adaptive system. I’d like to go a bit further than Owen on the implications of complexity for how we understand power and politics. It is generally the case that the […]

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Can aid agencies help systems fix themselves? The implications of complexity for development cooperation

Owen Barder gave a brilliant lecture on complexity and development to my LSE students earlier this year. Afterwards, I asked him to dig deeper into the ‘so whats’ for aid agencies. The result is this elegant essay (a bit long for a blog, but who cares?). I will try and get some responses to his […]

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How can complexity/systems thinking help small island states?

‘It’s a big year for small islands’ announced the speaker before me, who revelled in the title ‘The Honourable Lord Tu’ivakano, Prime Minister, Kingdom of Tonga’ (right). When my turn came, how should I refer to him? (I’m hopeless at this kind of thing, must come from going to a state school.) His Lordship? Your […]

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I had no idea that working across disciplines (on innovation, complexity and scale) was this painful, but it might be worth it

I went off to New York last week at the invitation of the UNDP Regional Center in Europe and Central Asia to discuss using complexity thinking to design a new ‘Finch Fund’ to support innovation and scaling up. Most scale-up exercises take successful pilots and just try and replicate them (one of the UNDP organizers, […]

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The Aid trilemma: are complexity, scale and measurability mutually incompatible?

I’ve been reflecting on Owen Barder’s recent post on the tensions for aid agencies between wanting to go to scale, and acknowledging that lasting development solutions have to emerge from discussions among local actors, based on local context. Seems to me we have something of an aid trilemma here – I would add in attribution […]

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How to bridge the Valley of Death that separates complexity/systems thinkers from decision makers?

Sometimes new ideas arrive like a bolt from the blue. More often they emerge through a series of conversations, reading and thinking. An element of repetition may be necessary, provided you talk to different kinds of people about the same issue (rather than having the same meeting with the same people over and over again […]

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