A visual map to navigate the catalogue of Complexity inspired practices

Posted on

Carlo Volpi drafted a visual map to navigate the practices of the book Living Complexity. How does your map look like?

Umberto Eco, Italian novelist and semiotician, suggested that curating and creating lists and catalogues are attempts to make infinity comprehensible, to create order out of chaos.

The epilogue of the book Living Complexity contains a hand-made sketch of a map of the practices in the catalogue. The sketch is an implicit invitation to every reader to draft their own map.

Carlo Volpi accepted the challenge and created his own map. He suggests that a visual map is an essential addition to navigate the catalogue. In the first level Carlo drafted the key overarching concepts:

In the second levels, Carlo added the practices. This below is his map (click to zoom):

The third level of the map contains Carlo’s personal notes, reflections, and consideration, so it is not visible here. You have to draw your own map for that.
Carlo continues explaining that there are multiple potential connections among the practices and a map can be the starting point to draw those non-linear connections.

The conversation with Carlo continues with the realisation that many connoisseurs of complexity theory sometimes struggle with the concept of practice inspired by complexity.
When asked to mention a practice they may for example point to Cynefin that really is a framework (in the same way that Scrum is an Agile framework). Or they may point to Probing or Ritual dissent that really are techniques (in the same way that Dot-voting is a facilitation technique, not an Agile practice).
An example of an Agile practice could be a Retrospective, and an example of a complexity inspired practice could be the Four points method that, while it is based on Cynefin, it has a specific purpose, inputs, outputs/outcomes, and participants.

So Carlo drafted this image to clarify the distinction:

What is your map of Living Complexity?

Navigate everyday Complexity.

See how we can help.
You, your team, your organisation.