It’s Thursday so it must be Bangkok more or less summarises this week which is a series of 1/2 night hotel stays. I’m looking forward to a solid week in Melbourne and a chance to properly unpack. I’m here to give an evening lecture at Bangkok University to the Knowledge and Innovation PhD group for Vincent Ribiere and it is my second time up for this engagement. The session is also open to the public. My love affair with Cathay Pacific continues as they upgraded me for the flight and achieved the same degree of discretion that I reported on the previous flight.
I think the lecture will be on line but regular readers will be familiar with the material, although I took a knowledge management focus. The interview I did with Vincent was interesting given that generally I don’t use the term knowledge management that much these days. But I had an honest stab at the questions and I will post a link if it becomes available online. In the presentation I used a quote from T S Eliot which I found the other day and which is apposite to the current state of affairs in complexity theory.
Nothing pleases people more than to go on thinking what they have always thought, and at the same time imagine that they are thinking something new and daring: it combines the advantage of security and the delight of adventure.
You can see a fair amount of this in the use of complexity theory at the moment, it has become a hot topic and that means the bandwagons roll into town and disgorge the snake oil sales-persons (this one is not confined to men by any means). In one of the long minibus transports within Bangkok I sketched out the picture shown above. On the horizontal scale we go from authentic to the theory to simply exploiting the theory with or without understanding. On the vertical scale with go from low to high utility. Now I need to qualify this somewhat. By utility I really mean the ability to gain adoption of the idea in a early-majority/early adopter market so there is an element of marketability judgement involved in that. Given that we get three extremes:
This is going to be a bigger theme over the next year or so and I have a few books to review that fall very firmly into the exploitative end of the scale. The final position is a balancing act between academic and practitioner and both groups find you difficult in consequence. The academics wonder why you waste your time with practitioners and the latter find the while thing too academic. Of course the snake oil guys or just want you to accept anything as valid, or everything as complex or variants on the fad-scene.
So new wine for new wineskins, it’s a simple test and while it has a delight of adventure it is far from secure
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