🎧 Episode 121 Preparing Leaders for Complex Change | Human Current

Listened to Episode 121 Preparing Leaders for Complex Change by Angie CrossAngie Cross from HumanCurrent

In this episode, Angie talks with human-centric leader, futurist and CEO of Toffler Associates, Deborah Westphal. Westphal shares the history and legacy of Toffler Associates and provides insights into their mission to help organizations understand the dynamics of change, plan their way to the future, and then adapt. Westphal also explains four macro-drivers that are causing uncommon disruption and influencing everything we know about organizations. She explores very important questions and assumptions about power structures, technology, and societal values and advocates for leaders to focus on people, rather than processes or technology.    

This episode feels a bit like the interviewer is selling me something instead of enlightening me. I do appreciate here emphasis on human-centric approaches however. This episode focuses a lot on philosophy and approach rather than science and direct examples of applications. Meh…

🎧 Episode 120 The Social Impact of Intelligent Systems | Human Current

Listened to Episode 120 The Social Impact of Intelligent Systems by Haley Campbell-GrossHaley Campbell-Gross from HumanCurrent

In this episode, Haley talks with Dr. Mihaela Ulieru, a scholar of distributed intelligent systems, Founder and President of the IMPACT Institute for the Digital Economy, and a Fourth Industrial Revolution champion at the World Economic Forum, where she advocated to include Blockchain among the "Top 10" in 2016. Ulieru talks about the interplay between society and technology and its effects on our humanity. She shares many paradoxical examples for how technology, like artificial intelligence and blockchain, can help us transcend our limitations while also preying on them. Ulieru also urges leaders to educate themselves on the ways blockchain can streamline their business, stating it’s now “a matter of survival”.

Sometimes I get the impression that our hosts in this series can be a bit too credulous when they don’t have the technical background to push back on their interviewees. This episode is a prime example.

While Dr. Ulieru may have some of the technical background to talk about blockchain, I think it’s a bit irresponsible for her to be evangelizing it the way she is without more concrete and successful examples. This interview falls into the trap of many conversations about blockchain and evangelizing it without enough push back on its long term potential.

About 30 minutes in she mentions the Sapien Network as a replacement for social media using blockchain. I’m curious to dig into it a bit to see what it is and how it actually works. Is it or could it be IndieWeb friendly? I don’t have high hopes, but I’ll try to take a peek shortly. Again here she simply evangelizes that it’s the solution to our problems without any discussion about why except to say “but blockchain!”. At present their site says they have 5,800 users.

At about 34 minutes in she also mentions a YouTube replacement on blockchain called Snacked (perhaps I misheard her?), but I was unable to track down such a site with the functionality she mentioned. Here again she states a reasonable problem, and simply states the solution as “blockchain!” without any direct specifics about why blockchain is a good solution and how it works to make a marked improvement.

“For any business that can use blockchain (to improve their processes) and is not using it now, I think it’s a race against time right now, so educate yourself because it’s a matter of survival for your business. Especially educate your leaders.” — Dr. Mihaela Ulieru
Statements like this can be deadly for businesses when they’re done in this sort of evangelizing fashion without any supporting reasoning below it. There is too much blockchain FUD out there, particularly when the technology is over a decade old, and there are very few, if any, real success stories and lots and lots of vaporware.

🎧 Episode 118 Practical Applications for Interconnected Nonlinear Systems | Human Current

Listened to Episode 118 Practical Applications for Interconnected Nonlinear Systems by Haley Campbell-GrossHaley Campbell-Gross from HumanCurrent

In this episode, Haley talks with systems thinker, entrepreneur and pragmatic implementer, Tanuja Prasad. Prasad shares details about her relationship with complexity, including how it has shifted her perspective about life, work and science. She beautifully describes the complex, nonlinear nature of systems and explains many practical concepts and applications for people working with and living within systems. Prasad also shares her passion for complexity science applications within the social impact sector.

An okay episode here. I far prefer the ones that go more towards the hard sciences. Though the discussion about the area and the overarching philosophies can be helpful in defining the area as things progress.

🔖 Creative Clarity by Jon Kolko

Bookmarked Creative Clarity by Jon Kolko (Brown Bear LLC)

This book is built on a simple premise: Most companies don't know what creativity really is, so they can't benefit from it. They lack creative clarity. 

Creative clarity requires you to do four things:
1. Choreograph a creative strategy, describing a clear future even among the blurry business landscape.
2. Grow teams that include those creative, unpredictable outcasts;  give them the space to produce amazing work; and build a unique form of trust in your company culture.
3. Institutionalize an iterative process of critique, conflict, and ideation.
4. Embrace chaos but manage creative spin and stagnation. 

This book is primarily for people in charge of driving strategic change through an organization. If you are a line manager responsible for exploring a horizon of opportunity, the book will help you establish a culture of creative product development in which your teams can predictably deliver creative results. You'll learn methods to drive trust among your team members to enable you to critique and improve their work. And as an organizational leader, you'll complement your traditional business strategies with the new language and understanding you need to implement creativity in a strategic manner across your company.

In a creative environment, chaos is the backdrop for hidden wonderment and success. In this book, you'll gain clarity in the face of that chaos, so you can build great products, great teams, and a high-performing creative organization.  

hat tip: Human Current

🎧 Episode 082 The Complexity & Chaos of Creativity | Human Current

Listened to Episode 082 The Complexity & Chaos of Creativity from HumanCurrent

How does chaos influence creativity? How can “flow states” help teams manage feedback and achieve creativity?In this episode, Haley interviews designer, educator and author, Jon Kolko. Kolko shares details from his new book Creative Clarity: A Practical Guide for Bringing Creative Thinking into Your Company, which he wrote to help leaders and creative thinkers manage the complexity and chaos of the creative process. During his interview, he explains how elements of complex systems science, including emergence, constraints, feedback and framing, influence the creative process. He also provides many helpful tips for how to foster a culture of creativity within an organization.

Cover art for The Complexity & Chaos Of Creativity featuring Jon Kolko

Quotes from this episode:

“A constraint emerges from the creative exploration itself….these constraints become a freeing way for creative people to start to explore without having rules mandated at them.” - Jon Kolko

“Framing is the way in which the problem is structured and presented and the way that those constraints start to manifest as an opportunity statement.” - Jon Kolko

“The rules around trust need to be articulated.” - Jon Kolko

“Chaos is the backdrop for hidden wonderment and success.” - Jon Kolko

Some interesting thoughts on creativity and management. Definitely worth a second listen.

I’ve seen the sentiment of “thought spaces” several times from bloggers, but this is one of the first times I’ve heard a book author use the idea:

Often when I write, it’s to help me make sense of the world around me.

—Jon Kolko

🎧 Episode 097 Applied Mathematics & the Evolution of Music: An Interview With Natalia Komarova | HumanCurrent

Listened to Episode 097 Applied Mathematics & the Evolution of Music: An Interview With Natalia Komarova by Haley Campbell-GrossHaley Campbell-Gross from HumanCurrent

In this episode, Haley interviews Natalia Komarova, Chancellor's Professor of the School of Physical Sciences at the University of California, Irvine. Komarova talks with Haley at the Ninth International Conference on Complex Systems about her presentation, which explored using applied mathematics to study the spread of mutants, as well as the evolution of popular music.

There’s some interesting sounding research being described here. Be sure to circle back around to some of her papers.

🎧 Episode 025 System Theories, Racism & Human Relationships: Interview with TK Coleman | Human Current

Listened to Episode 025 System Theories, Racism & Human Relationships by Haley Campbell-GrossHaley Campbell-Gross from Human Current

In this episode, Haley interviews TK Coleman to discuss how humans allow their conflicting mental models to influence the way they handle controversial topics like racism. TK also shares how understanding context and patterns within human systems ultimately empowers us to actively contribute to human progress.

I generally prefer the harder sciences among Human Current’s episodes, but even episodes on the applications in other areas are really solid. I’m glad to hear about TK Coleman’s overarching philosophy and the idea of “human beings” versus “human doings.”

Also glad to have the recommendation of General Systems Theory: Beginning With Wholes by Barbara G. Hanson as a more accessible text in comparison to Ludwig von Bertalanffy’s text. The gang at Human Current should set up an Amazon Affiliate link so that when I buy books they recommend (which happens frequently), it helps to support and underwrite their work.

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

Reality is objective, but meaning is contextual.

—Barbara Hanson, General Systems Theory: Beginning with Wholes quoted within the episode

This quote is an interesting recap of a sentence in the first two paragraphs of Claude Shannon’s The Mathematical Theory of Communication.

🎧 Episode 085 How Networks Learn An Interview with Cesar Hidalgo | Human Current

Listened to Episode 085 How Networks Learn An Interview with Cesar Hidalgo by Haley Campbell-GrossHaley Campbell-Gross from HumanCurrent

In this episode, Haley talks with physicist, complexity scientist, and MIT professor, Cesar Hidalgo. Hidalgo discusses his interest in the physics of networks and complex system science and shares why he believes these fields are so important. He talks about his book, Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economies, which takes a scientific look at global economic complexity. Hidalgo also shares how economic development is linked to making networks more knowledgeable.

Cesar Hidalgo

Quotes from this episode:

“Thinking about complexity is important because people have a tendency to jump into micro explanations for macro phenomenon.” — Cesar Hidalgo

“I think complex systems give you not only some practical tools to think about the world, but also some sort of humbleness because you have to understand that your knowledge and understanding of how the systems work is always very limited and that humbleness gives you a different attitude and perspective and gives you some peace.” — Cesar Hidalgo

“The way that we think about entropy in physics and information theory come from different traditions and sometimes that causes a little bit of confusion, but at the end of the day it’s the number of different ways in which you can arrange something.” — Cesar Hidalgo

“To learn more complex activities you need more social reinforcement.” — Cesar Hidalgo

“When we lead groups we have to be clear about the goals and the main goal to keep in mind is that of learning.” — Cesar Hidalgo

“Everybody fails, but not everyone learns from their failures.” — Cesar Hidalgo

“Learning is not just something that is interesting to study, it is actually a goal.” — Cesar Hidalgo

A solid interview here with Cesar Hidalgo. His book has been incredibly influential on my thoughts for the past two years, so I obviously highly recommend it. He’s got a great description of entropy here. I was most surprised by his conversation about loneliness, but I have a gut feeling that’s he’s really caught onto something with his thesis.

I also appreciated about some of how he expanded on learning in the last portion of the interview. Definitely worth revisiting.

🎧 Episode 077 Exploring Artificial Intelligence with Melanie Mitchell | Human Current

Listened to Episode 077 Exploring Artificial Intelligence with Melanie Mitchell by Haley Campbell-GrossHaley Campbell-Gross from HumanCurrent

What is artificial intelligence? Could unintended consequences arise from increased use of this technology? How will the role of humans change with AI? How will AI evolve in the next 10 years?

In this episode, Haley interviews leading Complex Systems Scientist, Professor of Computer Science at Portland State University, and external professor at the Santa Fe Institute, Melanie Mitchell. Professor Mitchell answers many profound questions about the field of artificial intelligence and gives specific examples of how this technology is being used today. She also provides some insights to help us navigate our relationship with AI as it becomes more popular in the coming years.

Melanie Mitchell on Human Current

Definitely worth a second listen.

I’ve been stockpiling episodes in my podcast queue for far too long, but Haley and Angie have been killing it on Human Current doing interviews with some of my favorite complexity systems thinkers. My listened to list is slowly growing. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend subscribing.

🎧 Episode 088 The Science & Philosophy of Complexity: An Interview With Carlos Gershenson | Human Current

Listened to Episode 088 The Science & Philosophy of Complexity: An Interview With Carlos Gershenson by Haley Campbell-GrossHaley Campbell-Gross from HumanCurrent

In this episode, Haley interviews research professor and leader of the Self-Organizing Systems Labat UNAMCarlos Gershenson. Gershenson discusses findings from his book, Complexity: 5 Questions, which is comprised of “interview style contributions by leading figures in the field of complexity”. He also shares his own perspectives on the past, present and future of complexity science, as well as how philosophy plays a role in the emergence of science.

Carlos Gershenson

🎧 Episode 116 An Educator’s Guide to Systems Thinking: An Interview With Linda Booth Sweeney | Human Current

Listened to Episode 116 An Educator's Guide to Systems Thinking: An Interview With Linda Booth Sweeney by Angie CrossAngie Cross from HumanCurrent

In this episode, Angie talks with systems educator and award-winning author, Linda Booth Sweeney. Booth Sweeney describes her work as a systems educator and explains why understanding systems is so important. She shares many wonderful examples and stories of patterns (and feedback loops) that show up in everyday life and explains how seeing a pattern is the very first step toward influencing change. Booth Sweeney also talks about her books and why storytelling is such an instrumental tool in her work.

Linda Booth Sweeney

Some awesome ideas hiding in here. Definitely worth a second listen as well as bookmarking some of Sweeney’s books to read in the future. I particularly like the idea of systems thinking for children via storytelling. Some of the ideas here have some overlap with ideas in Big History.

🎧 Episode 115 The Network Science of Success: An Interview With Albert-László Barabási | HumanCurrent

Listened to Episode 115 The Network Science of Success: An Interview With Albert-László Barabási by Haley Campbell-GrossHaley Campbell-Gross from HumanCurrent

In this episode, Haley talks with Albert-László Barabási. Barabasi is the Robert Gray Dodge Professor of Network Science and a Distinguished University Professor at Northeastern University, where he directs the Center for Complex Network Research. He is also a renowned author of several books including his newly released book, The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success, which he discusses in-depth during his interview. Barabási shares key takeaways and important lessons from his new book and research on the science of success. He also gives us insights from his journey of learning about and pioneering the young field of network science and shares his hopes for the future of this field.

Albert-László Barabási

🔖 The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success by Albert-László Barabási

Bookmarked The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success by Albert-László Barabási (Little, Brown and Company)

In the bestselling tradition of Malcom Gladwell, James Gleick, and Nate Silver, prominent professor László Barabási gives us a trailblazing book that promises to transform the very foundations of how our success-obsessed society approaches their professional careers, life pursuits and long-term goals.

Too often, accomplishment does not equal success. We did the work but didn't get the promotion; we played hard but weren't recognized; we had the idea but didn't get the credit. We convince ourselves that talent combined with a strong work ethic is the key to getting ahead, but also realize that combination often fails to yield results, without any deeper understanding as to why. Recognizing this striking disconnect, the author, along with a team of renowned researchers and some of the most advanced data-crunching systems on the planet, dedicated themselves to one goal: uncovering that ever-elusive link between performance and success.

Now, based on years of academic research, The Formula finally unveils the groundbreaking discoveries of their pioneering study, not only highlighting the scientific and mathematic principles that underpin success, but also revolutionizing our understanding of:
Why performance is necessary but not adequate
Why "Experts" are often wrong
How to assemble a creative team primed for success
How to most effectively engage our networks
And much more.

Caught an interesting reference to this in an episode of Human Current, but I’ve also recently finished his prior book Linked. I’ll likely read it, but I’ll probably wish I had read the relevant papers instead.

🎧 Episode 077 Exploring Artificial Intelligence with Melanie Mitchell | HumanCurrent

Listened to Episode 077: Exploring Artificial Intelligence with Melanie Mitchell by Haley Campbell-GrossHaley Campbell-Gross from HumanCurrent

What is artificial intelligence? Could unintended consequences arise from increased use of this technology? How will the role of humans change with AI? How will AI evolve in the next 10 years?

In this episode, Haley interviews leading Complex Systems Scientist, Professor of Computer Science at Portland State University, and external professor at the Santa Fe InstituteMelanie Mitchell. Professor Mitchell answers many profound questions about the field of artificial intelligence and gives specific examples of how this technology is being used today. She also provides some insights to help us navigate our relationship with AI as it becomes more popular in the coming years.

Melanie Mitchell

I knew Dr. Mitchell was working on a book during her hiatus, but didn’t know it was potentially coming out so soon! I loved her last book and can’t wait to get this one. Sadly, there’s no pre-order copies available at any of the usual suspects yet.