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Trojanmice Complexity Club Newsletter No 18 


Season's greetings to you all. I suppose that when you think about it Christmas is an excellent example of a complex evolving system. I am a bit of a sucker for sentimental Christmas movies and I was watching a re-run of "Miracle on 34th Street" yesterday, you know the one where Kris Kringle is on trial for believing he is Santa and there is a big campaign saying "I believe". Well I also believe, not necessarily in the person, but in the magic of Christmas, that same magic that is in all the systems around us, be they family, relationships, our work organizations or communities. We replace the certainty of a linear world with a world of unpredictability and magic. 

I am not a religious person but I do believe in Peace and Goodwill, so may your life be full of that peace and goodwill.


 In my previous newsletter I included a review of Deep Play by Diane Ackerman. In response Paul Jacobson sent me this.

 Learning through Play

 We are free in childhood to be experimentally insane, the same way that a nutty professor is on campus. We can have imaginary friends; we can turn a cardboard box into a space shuttle. We use our imagination to try things out.

 Play is a significant activity for enriching our lives at all ages. We play musical instruments. We play a game of sport. We even play a hand of cards. If we fall in love, we feel like playing again like children to bond with our partner. When we have children around, we play with them to encourage their exploration and learning. As our understanding expands through a lifetime, play that creates metaphors is a way of learning about how systems work and their properties.

 Executive teams in corporations around the world now play regularly in self-directed, metaphorical environments to discuss and understand their:

o    Corporate Identity

  • Landscape of the Enterprise
  • Connections & Networks
  • Emergent Properties and Contingencies
  • Simple Guiding Principles for turbulent times 

Peter Senge in The Fifth Discipline (1992) recommends that adults engage with computer simulations called Microworlds to rediscover the power of learning through play. Microworlds accelerates learning by compressing time and space; and also provides unmistakable feedback on the consequences of decisions to act (something that is often missing from decisions in real life and consequently we don't learn from them). 

At the level of systems thinking, the map of consciousness has features about emotions, language and play to inform our strategy for lifelong learning when we come to construct it in context.


Again thanks to Dave Gurteen

 "The hardest part of gaining any new idea is sweeping out the false idea occupying that niche."

 *** Robert Heinlein (1907-1988) American Science Fiction Author *** 

"Life is not the way it's supposed to be. It's the way you cope with it is what makes the difference."

 *** Virginia Satir (1916-1988) *** 

"Nobody gets anything remotely interesting right first time, except by accident"


 "Our life is what our thoughts make of it."

 *** Mark Aurelius ***

 "If I had to live my life over again, I'd dare to make more mistakes next time."

 *** Natine Sanger ***


Every so often I put "trojanmice" in a search engine to see what comes up. Recently Brian Lamb's Blog came up and it is full of fascinating information. A blog is a sort of web log but why not visit and see for yourself. 


This is a fascinating site with lots of interesting articles and resources about complexity.

Another interesting site about creativity that also has useful tools and resources.

Washington Center for Complexity and Public Policy:

The Washington Center for Complexity and Public Policy was established in 2001 in response to the growing interest in complexity science as a framework for understanding, influencing and developing better public policy.  In the last twenty years a revolution has occurred in the scientific understanding of "complex systems"-systems where the components are strongly interrelated, self-organizing and dynamic whether biological, ecological, technical or social -and complexity science represents a new interdisciplinary approach to studying the behavior of these types of systems.  The principles of complexity science form the foundation of a new worldview, which promises to provide deeper insights into the difficult challenges facing our national leaders. 

I am impressed by how important complexity theory is for public policy in the USA, and I long for the day when those in public life in the UK wake to the world around them and realize how helpful complexity theory could be. 


 Advances in the Management of Organizational Quality, Vol. 5, JAI Press: 1-28

By Kevin Dooley


The quality of goods and services has always been a societal concern. In this paper I describe the evolution of the discipline of quality via an evolutionary model of paradigm development. Using a narrative approach, I propose three epochs within the evolution of the discipline: a pre-industrial paradigm of caveat emptor, an industrial paradigm of quality control, and a post-industrial paradigm of total quality management. My model suggests that each paradigm was the result of the discipline's adaptation to environmental contingencies. I also propose that the essential nature of the paradigm was foreshadowed in the previous epoch as a local variation that was later selected globally when environmental changes occurred. I extend the model to predict what might constitute the challenges of the next quality paradigm. 

And Finally 

I always learn most when I am helping others learn and so it was the other day when I was with a client. They where very concerned that there was no "they" in their organisation, only "us". At the end of the day one of the people there said "the most important thing I have learned today is that there might be no 'they' but that there is an 'it'". That is the organisation is an entity with its own needs, an entity that is greater than the sum of its parts.

 Experience the magic,