By Embracing Complexity We Find Simplicity

W e’ve grown up with a mechanical worldview that is now getting in the way of our ability to adapt and survive. With this mechanical mindset, we think of the world as a machine. We can analyze facts and execute plans toward a predictable future. We can measure and control outcomes. Traditional strategic planning embodies this mindset.

A different worldview has been emerging. This complexity mindset emphasizes interdependence, flow and change. The future is continuously unfolding in ways we can sense but not fully predict.

Sounds daunting, doesn’t it?

Yet, here’s the paradox. Embracing complexity can actually make our lives simpler. If we accept the continuous challenge of flow and change, we see that effective strategy in our organizations and communities follows simple rules. Our strategy emerges from relentlessly following these simple rules.

Ed Morrison is Director of the Purdue Agile Strategy Lab. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. For the past five or six years, he has been developing new, agile approaches to strategy in open, loosely joined networks, a discipline he calls Strategic Doing. Prior to starting his economic development work, Ed worked for Telesis, a corporate strategy consulting firm. In this position, he served on consulting teams for clients such as Ford Motor Company, Volvo, and General Electric. He conducted manufacturing cost studies in the U.S., Japan, Mexico, Canada, Italy, Sweden, and France. Ed started his professional career in Washington, D.C., where he has served as a legislative assistant to an Ohio Congressman, staff attorney in the Federal Trade Commission, and staff counsel in the US Senate. He holds a BA degree cum laude with honors from Yale University and MBA and JD degrees from the University of Virginia.

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