An emphasis on problem-solving can be problematic. And dangerous. When you set out to solve a problem, you march forward with an arsenal of assumptions: you are already convinced that a problem exists, you believe you ought to fix it, and you believe your solutions will be superior to the current state of things. That is a lot of assumptions. One does not need to look very hard to find examples of ‘problem solvers’ who only left a trail of greater problems in their wake.
At a panel discussion at The Grand Theatre on Thursday, playwright Trina Davies said that the distinctive difference between theatre and film is that the experience of a live performance is co-created with the audience. At the movies, the actors don’t know you are there. There is no relationship whatsoever. In theatre, the experience is produced together. A production without an audience does not ‘produce’ an analogue experience to what happens in an auditorium full of humans.
I’m excited to kick off the New Year with a new teaching resource: the System Thinker Notebook. I started compiling this tool last year, in response to a surge in opportunities to instruct and consult about complexity and system theory. The Notebook provides leaders and students with a creative ‘in-session workbook’ that doubles as a comprehensive ‘take-home bibliography’ of crucial concepts, resources, and strategies.
Until relatively recently, the history of writing has been overwhelmingly a history of men’s ideas. (One need only compare the number of known ancient women writers to the number of known writers in the ancient world to get a sense of the gender disparity.) Ancient literature represents plenty of misogynist attitudes (looking at you, Hesiod, Euripides, et al), but I’m intrigued by the fragments of ideas left by other male authors — writing in hyper-patriarchal societies — who ventured to second-guess the inequality or assigned roles of the sexes.
Innocent until proven guilty. This is the foundational presumption of our justice system. This is the normative, intentional bias we have structurally embedded in our conception of justice to protect the wrongly accused. It is central to our legal definition of human rights itself.
I feel like I am on a personal rampage of simplicity as of late. It is as if I am bushwhacking my way through a dense foliage of complicated processes, procedures, and subroutines I have implemented over the years. My machete is Occam’s razor, slicing a new path through convoluted mazes of my making. At every turn, the same question: “Is there any way possible to simplify this?”