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Human Complexity and the use of narrative

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Cassandra Williamson

on 27 February 2017

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Transcript of Human Complexity and the use of narrative

The Long Deep Future
Human Complexity
A Vision for a better Future
What were the keys of
success in the three historical case studies?
The Current Economy
This presentation was initially created on 19 January 2013 as part of a much large report on human complexity which ia available at the link below.

I hope you enjoy and profit from my thinking on Human Complexity, particularly from the perspective of mapping a Very Long Scale (Holistic) sustainable future from an overview of current and historical patterns.

Into tomorrow, going deep....
Specific long term vision
Emotional forces driving the vision
Loose overarching organizational structure
Internally open, connective and interactive
allows for divergence & variety
encourages new ideas
guidance toward vision
Analysis based on correlation to the keys discovered in the three case studies
Creating Sustainable Local Growth
What are the complex forces that
drive economic success and
long term sustainability?
What lessons can we learn from history
and current events that may show
the way toward a viable solution
in a connected world?

From the big grand complex awe inspiring projects of the past, what were the results, what are the common characteristics, and can we learn from those projects to move a HYPER-CONNECTED world forward?
The Panama Canal
Initially, this project failed in a big way.
The French did not approach the project as a complex adaptive system, but rather thought that their Suez Canal experience was enough.
From 1881 to 1904, the French
muddled along digging a ditch
from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
Many lives were lost. They did not rely
upon sound scientific advice, nor did they
bring in innovative engineers and technician,
nor doctors to study malaria, no geologists
to study soil conditions and
For the first 20 years of the
French phase of the Panama Canal
Project, there was no big
awe inspiring vision. The French
were not emotionally invested in
the project. Their people were not
behind the project. It wasn't seen
as a project that directly benefited the
French, but would instead help the
Americans more than the French.
In 1904, the French sold the entire
canal project to the Americans.

The Americans were motivated by THREE big factors:
1. competing with France and Europe
2. cheaper and quicker connection between east and west coasts
3. was in America's sphere of direct influence
America brought in the necessary scientists, geolgists, engineers, technicians, doctors, workers and gave them the overall plan, then turned them loose to solve the problem. They needed to prove to the world that they were better than everyone else, and that they would succeed. They were motivated.
The Panama Canal opened in 1914.
The Manhattan Project

produced the world's first atomic bomb during World War II.
The Manhattan Project was a massively
complex operation requiring an overall
structure and organization with a very specific
vision involving the US, Britain and Canada. The motivation for the project was a very
real fear that the Germans under Hitler were about
to develop a bomb that would end the war decisively and quickly in the Germans favor.
Once Roosevelt came to see that
the threat was very real, he initiated the Manhattan Project under the leadership of Brig. Gen Leslie Groves.

Gen. Groves was an exceptional leader and organizational manager. He brought together the resources needed to fullfil the mission, while giving the sub-systems sufficient latitude to be innovative, adaptable and evolvable as needed.
The Manhattan project is an example of a massively complex system, driven by an emotional force or need, where the overall vision was very specific. Though Gen. Groves maintained control and guidance, his methods were situationally adaptive. He allowed the numerous teams and systems, all complex adaptive systems, to operate as they needed, nearly chaotically, but guided by the force of fear of German conquest and vision.
The vision of the
mission was successful.
First Man on the Moon
There was great fear that the
Soviet Union, under communist rule, was going to beat the US in the space race. Communism could not been seen by the world as technologically superior to democracy, so the motivation was enormous.
So out of fear and competition,
Pres. Kennedy created a national vision, a goal, of landing a man on the moon by the end of the decade.
The process was very complicated
and highly complex. The interaction
between scientists, engineers and technicians, and between government, civilians and businesses required adaptability, innovability, and evolvability across multiple systems and people.
Mission accomplished
Key factors driving success:
and of course, decentralized, open and adaptive next generation leadership from within.
Key factors driving success:
fear that the Germans would get the bomb first
operational overall structure
Complex Adaptive systems & strategy
© Cassandra Leigh Williamson
19 January 2013
Revised: 27 Dec 2014

There are Five Keys to creating
sustainable growth, peace, prosperity, and success.
Specific long term vision
The economic system(s) has no real specific vision, purpose, goal or direction.
When policy makers say that they want to create jobs, reduce unemployment, encourage business growth, promote free enterprise and capitalism, they are making 'feel' good statements lacking specificity. Today's economy does not have a direction toward which it is working. It does not know where it is going, nor does it know why it should be going in that direction.
Since the economy consist of people, the people have no direction either
Since economies consist of people
interacting with other people,
in an increasingly interconnected
world, local economic success and
sustainability is directly tied to the
success of the rest of the economy.

In todays world, locally consistent success is
inextricably dependent upon global growth.
Emotional forces driving the vision
There are no awe-inspiring
reasons motivating economic
There is nothing toward which huge segments of society can focus their efforts and energy.
Today's economy has no
overarching organizational structure.
The current economy does have the remaining characteristics of a successful system:
In conclusion, the current economic
situation is one of a number of complex
systems trying to behave as if they are
distinct and separate from one another.
As people from around the world connect with others, and as the systems created by those people intertwine, then economic success of one depends on the growth of the whole system.
Let's find a way to motivate the various
people and systems toward a common goal.

We need a big dream, an awe-inspiring vision,
backed by a strong emotional reason such as competition, or fear, or an immediate threat to human survival, to give local people, local economies, a reason, purpose or direction, to move toward the future.

Studies of complex systems and complex adaptive systems, and systems of systems, gives the insight needed to determine influential points in the overall systems so that the vison and purpose can be implemented from the bottom up.
To turn the economy around, to move it forward for
a single person requires that local efforts be directed
toward a specific future goal.

The specific future goal must be just beyond reach of current technology and science.

As the world becomes more intertwined and interconnected, the need for large scale focus toward a specific goal increases. Since the increasing connections have never reversed in the entire history of mankind, then we must find a big awe-inspiring vision to lift up all of humanity.

I know that is a big order, but if we are to survive and prosper in peace and security, then that is our only option.
The lessons learned from the case studies reveal that there is a solution to smoothing out the erratic nature of the economy.
As connections accelerate between people and systems from the local level to the global level, the need for the big vision grows too.
As a closing thought, the lessons from the case studies also apply to the future of all complex systems - businesses, governments, any organization.
Alice said to the Cheshire cat, "If you don't know where you're going, then any road will do."
***A vision with a purpose***

Let's build two self-sufficient cities of 100,000 people each on Mars in 50 years.
Why? Our survival depends upon it.
It will empower our economies, lift up all people, create new technologies, new sciences, new businesses.
Please read the full report at:

Property of Cassandra Leigh Williamson
19 January 2013
These three case studies show us how to
move into the future.

It takes planning & vision.
It takes the ability to begin even
while NOT HAVING all the answers.
It takes desire & emotional power.
It takes strength of vision and purpose.
you will not know it all, and a little chaos must be included.
Key #1
A generalized very long range vision, purpose, and or goal.
Key #2
Emotional connection to the vision, purpose or goal.
Key #3
The vision must be grand and awe-inspiring, and just beyond current technical & scientific knowledge.
Key #4
Decentralized leadership via narrative
Key #5
Adaptable, innovable, & evolvable.
What are those keys?
Full transcript