We Need to Get Better at Talking About the Complicated and Complex

No prescriptions on this, yet, just an observation: it’s much too rare to find solid, effective explanations of complicated and complex problems where we need them most — in politics and business leadership.

Complexity, like innovation or disruption, is a buzzword. But it’s arguably more descriptive of today’s world than the other two: even while almost everyone is using the same search engine (and the same one as 15 or 20 years ago), the world we’re seeking to comprehend is getting more complex.

This places a high premium on accurate and effective description, to be sure. But we clearly can’t describe the world as quickly as we can complicate it, and most of the problems worth describing are worth acting on.

(It’s also interesting that complexity is increasing at the same time that we’re all being taught to have shorter and shallower attention spans. How that’s going to play out over the long term is outside my lane, but it’s hard to imagine that we’re not doing ourselves any favors by consuming less about more, rather than learning more about less.)

Action generally starts with a specific handle: you can write an infinitely long paper describing and complexifying the food system, but the solution has to start with a specific intervention.

It must be possible to learn how to better describe problems, assert solutions, and make the case for particular interventions. That seems like a skill worth practicing and selecting for.