Posted by: Tony Shannon | May 31, 2011

Adapting – tackling Toasters to Terrorists

“You could easily spend your life making a toaster” is the interesting opening line from Tim Harfords book.

Adapt- Why Success Always Starts with Failure” is an effective introduction to the world of the complicated and complex systems of the world.

By explaining that the humble toaster has over 400 components and sub-components he illustrates how complicated many things are in the modern world.

He then goes on to make the case that many more elements of the modern world are much more than complicated , they are complex.

The principles of Variation, Selection, Decoupling and Adapting that he examines are all taken from the world of complex systems and are usefully laid out.

His case for change by challenging top-down organisational control, encouraging diversity, encouraging local experimentation and decentralised decision making…. all helpfully acknowledge the ecosystem like nature of change in most/all complex organisations.

His final pages include a classic Samuel Beckett quote;
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better”

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