This book interprets insights from the complexity sciences to explore seven types of complexity better to understand the predictable unpredictability of social life. Drawing on the natural and social sciences, it describes how complexity models are helpful but insufficient for our understanding of complex reality.
Taking an interdisciplinary approach, the book develops a complex theory of action more consistent with our experience that our plans inevitably lead to unexpected outcomes, explains why we are both individuals and thoroughly social, and gives an account of why, no matter how clear our message, we may still be misunderstood. The book investigates what forms of knowledge are most helpful for thinking about complex experience, reflects on the way we exercise authority (leadership) and thinks through the ethical implications of trying to co-operate in a complex world. Taking complexity seriously poses a radical challenge to more orthodox theories of managing and leading, based as they are on assumptions of predictability, control and universality. The author argues that management is an improvisational practice which takes place in groups in a particular context at a particular time. Managers can influence but never control an uncontrollable world. To become more skilful in complex group dynamics involves taking into account multiple points of view and acknowledging not knowing, ambivalence and doubt.
This book will be of interest to researchers, professionals, academics and students in the fields of business and management, especially those interested in how taking complexity seriously can influence the functioning of businesses and organizations and how they manage and lead.