In complex times

Social change generally happens incrementally, although at times there are critical incidents that confront us with the consequences of long-forgotten actions. However, we are all part of complex, interacting and interdependent systems and networks. Whether we like it or not, what happens in one place or time affects us all.

In the past, the linear manufacturing paradigm (step by step processes) shaped our minds. Now, the endless, mind-bogglingly intricate web of the online environment helps us understand that very few things are truly linear processes. Instead, we are physically, personally, socially, financially, politically, and emotionally  affected by everything that goes on around us.

As a result, we need to revision how programs and services are planned. They can’t be offered in presumed isolation from the context in which they are situated. We need to understand root causes as much as we need to consider long-term impacts, and we need to find ways of addressing the “wicked problems” that emerge from complexity, because if we have learned anything from the online environment it’s that nothing stays the same for very long. More than anything, we need to work collectively if we want to have the greatest impact.



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