Johnnie Moore


Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

Over the last few days I’ve been listening to Dave Snowden’s recent presentation in Singapore. He’s talking about complexity in government but nearly all of it applies to a lot of other contexts.

Dave’s posted slides and podcast and it’s serious brain food. Although I’m increasingly familiar with his work I really appreciated being able to process it in chunks rather than all at one go.

There are a ton of ideas here and I can’t do them justice in a single post. If I had to pick single argument out, it would be this:

In nature, stability and resilience are opposed. A stable system lacks resilience and a resilient systems lacks stability. So it’s ok to stabilise things if you’ve got certainty of future; if you’ve got uncertainty you can’t afford stability you’ve actually got to introduce inefficiency.. if you don’t have a degree of inefficiency in the system it loses its evolutionary potential.

I made some other notes of ideas Dave put forward. I strongly recommend hearing them all in their proper context.

High efficiency = high risk during change

Complex systems are inherently unpredictable. Eastern philosophy allows for a non-causal system.

There’s isn’t a reason for things to be, and next time things will only be the same by accident.

Retrospectively a complex system appears to be ordered. Retrospective coherence or the benefits of hindsight. Hindsight doesn’t lead to foresight, can be a dangerous thing.

Human beings don’t think in logical ways unless they’re autistic. We make rapid decisions based on patterning.

Importance of weak signal detection to spot sooner emerging patterns and act accordingly.

Move from fail-safe design to safe-fail experimentation/intervention… do lots of small things and see what works.

Rigid boundaries have a tendency to become brittle.

Catalytic probes… amplification and dampening…

Complexity as a way of managing more with less

Disintermediation, decision-maker has direct contact with the raw intelligence… more layers of intepretation -> slower, higher cost

Dave says you have to give up micro-level control – (JM maybe it’s about a kind of micro-sensitivity instead?)

How do we relax the constraints without destroying Singapore society? Management as relaxation of constraints and monitoring the impact

Tightening constraints creates a different type of danger, that of being surprised by unexpected events

I can’t analyse this because analysing changes it

Sense making: date precedes framework; categorisation framework precedes the data

Human beings are not termites and are not birds. Human beings have multiple identities, (JM –

human identity is contextual)… so models are unreliable

“The only valid model of a complex system is the system itself” (Axelrod?)

Senge metaphor hearts, legs, soul is a closed-system model

A symbiotic assembly of different living organisms – Portuguese man of war

Theory-informed practice = praxis, good theory, sound experiments ? sustainable development . Applying past theory or things that have worked for others, you don’t get that

Aim to generate dissent; aiming for consensus reduces the range of things you scan; ritual dissent increases the scanning range


Share Post

More Posts


There’s more potential in each moment than we realise

More Updates

Emotional debt

Releasing the hidden costs of pent up frustrations


Finding the aliveness below the surface of stuck

Johnnie Moore

WSJ going nowhere?

Good spot by David at AdPulp: Adam L. Penenberg an assistant professor at New York University writing in Wired says, “It might be hard to believe that The Wall Street

Johnnie Moore

Red or Blue

Jeff Risley blogs about his agency launching The Red Blue Project. Looking at the state of politics in the US the project is trying to get past polarisation. The agency

Johnnie Moore

Going round in circles

I often like to host meetings with people sitting in a circle. It means everyone can see everyone else and it avoids inadvertently giving too much status to any particular

Johnnie Moore

Term papers and gobbledegook

Another part of Cathy Davidson’s article that caught my eye was her discussion of term papers in college. She asks a question I’ve been asking for a while now: What