Later today i’ll deliver the first workshop around Failure, Complexity and Control: i’m as ready as i will ever be, and excited to share it. I wanted to share a final reflection on this work before it’s first outing, largely to help me get my head into the space, as part of #WorkingOutLoud.
I aim to explore three key elements:
To consider the ‘Shape of Complexity’, essentially how broadly we perceive it, and how we understand the edges to operate.
To explore how we hold Failure, and the roles of systems, exhaustion, and familiarity in the way that it operates.
To consider what we seek to Control, and whether this gives us opportunity, or limitation.
In many ways, this is very grounded work: although the ideas seem big, it’s typically about the things that we do in each and every day. The frames around our thinking, the reach and limits of our power, the collective ability to conceive of outcomes, and the practical challenges of cascade and combinant effects. Essentially about our ability to operate imperfectly within complexity.
I’ve grounded this work in the story of Apollo: one of heroism and a mastery of technology, vision and the sheer hard work of 400k people – but also one of risk taking and failure, delusion and exhaustion.
In other words, pretty much like everyday work for many of us, but without the glamour of rocketry.
There is clearly a great deal of work around Complexity out in the world: my aim is not particularly to contribute to work describing the theories of the complex, but rather to understand in rather human terms our responses to it. The ways we seek to control it, dilute it, ignore it, and power through it. And the ways that it often flows around our efforts to do so.
So: a rather human exploration of the ecosystem – how we fail, the landscape of complexity, and the hollow nature of control.