Heart of the Art

To the Heart of Living Systems


big five theories

Kahneman: Why we make bad decisions

Ever wondered why you keep making bad decisions? In this video Kahneman explains.

Cass Sunstein on Nudge Theory

In this excerpt from the event, ‘Why Nudge?’, renowned public thinker Cass Sunstein defends his groundbreaking nudge theory.

Knowing the Network and Knitting the Network

Lack of outside information, and dense cohesion within the network, removes all possibility for new ideas and innovations. We see this in isolated rural communities that are resistant to change, or Nodes with many direct connections that quickly disperse information; Nodes that connect otherwise disconnected parts of the network – they act as liaisons; Nodes that connect two or more clusters – they act as bridges between groups. We see this in isolated rural communities that are resistant to change, or in a classic “old boy network”. Yet, the dense connections, and high degree of commonality forms good work groups – clusters of people who can work together smoothly.

Seel: The Nature of Emergence

Intention is not a simple intrinsic property of human agents. Instead, it is often—perhaps always—co-created as a result of interactions with other people. Intention, therefore, can be thought of as an emergent property created from the interactions within a human system which then feeds back into the system and influences its future development. In particular, it influences the way in which at least one of the complex agents in the system will behave in future.

The ancient practice of Chinese social networking

Guanxi is defined by Mei- hui (1994) as a gift economy, but it is much more. Luo (1997) say, “The Chinese word Guanxi refers to the concept of drawing on connections in order to secure favors in personal relations. It is an intimate and pervasive relational network in which Chinese culture energetically, subtly, and imaginatively engage” (p. 2). But for our purposes perhaps Bell’s (2000) definition is most helpful. He defines Guanxi as more than connections; it is a “mechanism by which individuals are able to achieve personal, family or business objectives. Bell’s definition focuses on a process by which we achieve collective goals.

Changing Identity: The Emergence of Social Groups

An individual is a specific human being with a personal identity that is represented by his desire to be and to become who he wants to be. Social identity is just one aspect of this individual’s personal identity. Having a social identity does not necessarily preclude an individual from choosing another social identity. To do this he must be able to think and to reflect on whether his social and cultural background or his position within society is the most adapted to his personal endeavours.

Self-Organizing Leadership

In my experience, most people in organizations are hard working, intelligent, and well-intentioned. Very few people get up in the morning with the express intent of messing up their organization. So why is it that in some organizations people blossom, while in others they wither?

Cognitive Dissonance Theory for Inspiring Social Change

The significance of cognitive dissonance needs to be understood to rationalize the theory underlying social change processes. Social change in the context described might be applied within a personal or family relationship, a work organization, or within society in general. And, the theory can be rationalized in its application in terms of scale for example in inciting the conditions for civil revolution and changing political systems of governance, or complex organizational change within multinational corporations.

Creativity & Emergence

The most effective and meaningful changes I’ve observed have come from both embracing creative practices and also establishing new foundations: generative principles of engagement, expanded mind sets, new frameworks, and entering into a “co-creative partnering” type of relationship with each other, and with the unknown. For example, weaving improv-based principles as the rules of engagement in meetings can transform both the energy and outcomes

Animal Cognition

How do animals use the information they obtain from their environment to move through space, time their activities, assess quantity, or remember the past?

Patterns in Nature

The living world is filled with striped and mottled patterns of contrasting colours; with sculptural equivalents of those patterns realised as surface crests and troughs, with patterns of organisation and behaviour even among individual organisms. People have long been temped to find some ‘intelligence’ behind all these biological patterns. In the early twentieth century the Belgian Symbolist playwright Maurice Maeterlinck, pondering the efficient organisation of bee and termite colonies asked; What is it that governs here? What is it that issues orders? Foresees the future? Elaborates, plans and preserves equilibrium? Administers and condemns to death?

Small world networks, consciousness and nature

A video exploring small world networks in the human world and throughout nature.

Twelve Simple Rules of Systems Thinking for Complex Global Issues

We are increasingly aware that many our living systems – human and natural – are at risk today, as we face incredibly complex and interconnected challenges related to global security, environmental degradation, and inter-woven economies. Understanding the nature and dynamics of living systems, therefore, can shed light on how we think about our problems and our resources, and about the assumptions and the choices we make.

Hidalgo: Relationships between individual and collective knowledge

In this video Cesar Hidalgo at MIT asks intriguing questions about how social and economic systems interact. He sees networks as holding the knowledge and know-how necessary to ‘crystallise’ information into the things we use every day. The capacity of a network to hold this sort of knowledge and know-how is thus for him directly linked to economic activity. It helps explain how economic growth is variable and differs from place to place. It says that a theory of economics that doesn’t take into account the social complexity of society and its networks is incomplete. This 20 minute address at the RSA is a rapid tour through Cesar’s work. It is expanded in more depth in his book ‘Why information grows’. If you are exploring how social networks relate to economic activity this is well worth a look.

A Physics Talk for Non-Physicists: Chaos, Complexity, and Entropy

Chaos is a purely mathematical concept; it is an undeniable mathematical fact. We know that theoretical physics is built on mathematics, and that all theoretical physicists are applied mathematicians. The first question that I want to examine, then, is: why is it that, among all the practitioners of science, applied science, engineering disciplines, and human sciences, physicists were practically the last ones to be interested in chaos and to use it in their work?

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