Being Chill About Complex Issues

One lesson to be learned from the everything-right-now 21st century is that everything must be not only right now but also very simple. The 2016 presidential campaign is showing America that simplistic lingo is what everyone wants and will get.

    That is not the way Petra Kuenkel sees it. In her book “The Art of Leading Collectively,” Kuenkel writes that complexity is what awaits us. Further, she argues that complexity is the only way to face the future, and she sees four types of complexity that characterize the challenges of our sustainable development as mankind. They are:

  • Dynamic complexity. This suggests that, because cause-and-effect relationships are no longer traceable or plannable in linear fashion, we complement our linear planning with systemic approaches and collective iterative learning mechanisms.
  • Generative complexity. Behavioral habits, calcified mind-sets and systemic structures reinforce one another and call for radical innovation and collective intelligence to shift human behavior and thinking toward a new pattern.
  • Social and institutional complexity. Most of the world’s sustainable development challenges, ranging from climate change to food and water security, require aligned action. It is the multi-stakeholder approach to global and local solutions that will become the norm for societal change.
  • Value complexity. Rather than allowing, or even requiring, employees to leave their personal values at the door, sustainability can be seen as a global project to realign deep human values with human behavior in all aspects of development.