–>Who: Lisa Kimball, president and executive director of the…
–> What: …Plexus Institue, explains the characteristics of complex problems and how to address them by convening the right conversations to implement customized, effective solutions.
–> How: Listen to this interview, learn more about the Plexus Institute.
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In his quest to seek out the people and ideas shifting how the world works to make it better, Scott Henderson speaks with Lisa Kimball, president and executive director of the Plexus institute, whom he met at the BIF-8 conference in Providence.
As Kimball explains, there are three types of problems:
- Simple problems involve a limited number of known variables, have a defined method, and produce predictable outcomes. Eample: baking a cake using a recipe.
- Complicated problems involve more known variables, require specialized knowledge and expertise, but still produce predictable outcomes. Example: mechanics and scientists building an airplane.
- Complex problems involve unknown variables, a constantly changing method and set of circumstances, and do not produce predictable outcomes. Example: raising a child.
The Plexus Institute helps organizations solve these complex problems by applying theory to real-world contexts. For example, they helped hospitals address the issue of transmission of hospital-acquired illnesses, in particular, the practice of wearing sterile gloves. How do they do this? By convening conversations between the right people. Turns out, this seemingly simple problem of glove-wearing involved not just the glove-wearers, but also the glove-stockers, hospital administrators, and other auxiliary staff.
So, how can you start solving the complex problems your organization faces? Here’s what Kimball suggests –
- Identify the complexity at work by convening conversations between all those involved, including the unusual suspects.
- Direct the conversation to the systems-level processes that produce the problem.
- Implement customized solutions to address the gaps in the system, based on what works best for those directly involved.
Learn more about the Plexus Institute.