Many, Fast and Complex

Three really interesting new blog posts about innovation caught my eye this weekend and with great synchronicity seem to support each other and widen way we should approach innovative problem solving.

The first is on the Aza Raskin blog exploring the statement that “you are solving the wrong problem“. This is a perfect teaching story, short, concise and intriguing to the end.

In the final paragraph lies just part of the takeaway:

Find a faster way to fail

Now this is consistent with the cynefin framework diagnosis for the complex domain and Dave Snowden’s multiple experiments newly summarised in a new post “7 principles of intervention in complex system“, principle 3 states:

A percentage must fail, if not you are not stretching the boundaries enough and your scanning range is reduced in consequence

Finally Paul Hobcraft explores “A recognition that innovation is a complex adaptive system” over on Paul4innovating’s Blog. Here he proposes that:

innovation is complex, recognize it does have to be handled carefully but it needs to also be fully understood for what it is, a complex adaptive system

Bringing all three of these ideas together suggests to me that innovation is not always a complex adaptive system but, in order to explore a wider suite of incremental to step change solutions, perhaps we should always treat it as if it is.

We should therefore not only design many safe-fail intervention experiments (based on different and competing theories/hypotheses) but also make every effort to ensure that each experiment is designed so that we can repeat them with an iterative correction within hours not weeks.

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