How do these conceptions of complexity help us think and act?

This is Part 2 of a three part series of video lectures conducted by USAID on complexity. This lecture features Aaron Clauset, Rob Ricigliano and Alexa Courtney who focus on the question 'How do these conceptions of complexity help us think and act?' The lecture begins by looking at predictability and unpredictability in terrorism and civil wars then moves on to a range of tools that can be used for grappling with complexity.


"In this presentation, I'm going to walk you through kind of the mindset of what's called design thinking and explain why I believe that's a particularly helpful approach for unraveling some of the dynamics of complexity we've surfaced this morning. So what is design? I'm sure that each one of you, if I asked you to define development, you'd have a very different answer. There'd be some commonalities. And I think inquiring about design and design thinking surfaces a similar wide spectrum of answers.

Is design the creation of a new, high-tech product or gadget? Is it the design of services for innovation? Or is it fundamentally about the creation of future realities, the facilitation of change, and a process to surface emergent ideas? It actually can be all three, but the kind of design we're going to talk about today is design thinking. And ones that I think will be very useful for your purposes as you move forward as planners, designers, and thinkers in this development space."


Clauset, A., Ricigliano, R.,  and Courtney, A., (2011). How do these conceptions of complexity help us think and act? USAID. Retrieved from:

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