Thoughts on the Santa Fe Institute

A topic of considerable discussion, debate, and thought for a great many of us long before a series of ever larger crises, the Santa Fe Institute (SFI) chose the theme of complexity in regulation for their annual meeting, which just concluded. I was fortunate enough to attend last year’s 25th anniversary meeting at SFI, but this year I was only able to view the final full day via webcast, which was excellent. Prior to sharing my thoughts on the important topic of simplifying regulation in a future post, which will be covered more extensively in my book in progress, I want to focus a bit on SFI.

The official SFI about page can be found here, although having written many of these descriptions myself; I’ve yet to write or read one that captures the essence of the organization, people, or contributions, so please allow the liberty of a few additional lines in first person.

I have been following SFI regularly for 15 years, and since moving to Santa Fe nearly two years ago have had many interactions. SFI essentially pioneered complexity as a discipline, but is also a proponent of what I now refer to in my own work as a mega disciplinary approach to truth seeking, without which frankly many researchers and their cultures can become blinded.

One of several strengths of SFI is their ability to draw from a very broad universe of scholars, each of whom is a leading expert in a specific discipline, but also shares an interest in both complexity theory—which affects everything else, as well as the need to work across disciplines in order to learn from each.

The intimate size and environment of SFI is I believe why so many leading scholars contribute and engage. After living in Santa Fe, visiting the campus and attending multiple events, with a great many exchanges with larger institutions, I can certainly understand the appeal for permanent faculty, visiting scholars, post docs, and business network members. Read More

Large scale job growth requires new ecosystems

In July of this year Andy Grove wrote a thought providing article: How America Can Create Jobs. I reread the article this week, which led to spending my Saturday writing this article.

These are complex issues that often require a lifetime of immersion to understand, if ever, with both experiential and intellectual exposure. Generally speaking an economist is not qualified to discuss job creation—rather they are an excellent source at measuring the impact and results. A career in one company or even one industry will not necessarily provide a good understanding of the topic, and a career in academia has proven to be more of a negative for understanding job creation than a positive, despite the focus of media. Read More

Web 3.0 Leaders Look to the Year Ahead

Jenny Zaino at asked a group of us to provide predictions for 2010. An interesting mix and worth a close look, particularly for those seeking input from the front lines of Web innovation.

Maya in the global parcel delivery business

A few months ago we decided to produce a series of papers in story telling format to better communicate the value of our Kyield system for decision makers in large organizations, rather than the normal highly technical use cases written and consumed primarily within the scientific community: ‘Semantic Scenarios for the Intelligent Enterprise’. I just posted… Read More

HBR debate … Think U.S. Tech Isn’t Healthy?

Laura D’Andrea Tyson contributed to the HBR debate with an article titled:  Think U.S. Tech Isn’t Healthy? Look at the Data. A rich comment section followed. This is my contribution: A very constructive debate that is no doubt having a broad positive impact, so you should all be proud of your public contributions — it’s… Read More

Drucker on long term values

“Whether a business should be run for short-term results or with a focus on the long term is likewise a question of values. Financial analysts believe that businesses can be run for both simultaneously. Successful businesspeople know better. To be sure, every company has to produce short-term results. But in any conflict between short-term results… Read More

HBR debate… pleasing Wall Street

Ed Catmull posted an article in the Harvard debate: Pleasing Wall Street is a Poor Excuse for Bad Decisions. My comment on Ed’s article is as follows: It’s been clear to us for 15 years that misalignment between compensation incentives and the long-term needs of organizations, investors, communities, and individuals were increasingly competing for the… Read More