Consulting / Issues in the Family Enterprise / Leadership / Management Science / Research in the Field

Complexity Redux: A retrospective on the April issues

The PractitionerWho would have thought that The Practitioner, inaugurated in 2007 as a “periodic” publication, would, in 2013, it become a weekly publication  and in 2014 be sophisticated enough to publish a month long series on a highly complex (!) topic? Actually probably anyone who seriously considered the expertise, talent and commitment to the field of the FFI membership around the world. So kudos to all!

Now…in case you missed some of the issues or articles here is a little redux:


In the course of the month 13 authors participated from eight countries, representing family enterprise consultants with backgrounds in behavioral and management science and law, academics and family business members. Precisely the mix that makes FFI such an interesting organization. Please join me in thanking your colleagues:

April 2: John Davis, Trish Reay, Carlo Salvato, Pramodita Sharma, Andrew Keyt
April 9: Rosa Nelly Trevinyo-Rodriguez, Hilburt Davis
April 16: Boris Matijas, Jack Wofford
April 23: Lucia Ceja Barba, Melissa Mitchell-Blitch
April 30: Ramia El-Agamy, Josiane Fahed Shrei


These include:

  • Behavioral science: personality traits, navigating ambiguity, gender and cultural topics
  • Practical advice: how to chose lawyers, how to improvise like the pro’s do
  • Theoretical issues: personality and decision making models, concepts of temporality
  • Management: life cycles in family business, succession planning as strategy
  • Future orientated: next-gen and corporate social responsibility
  • Topics of special interest to the readers: – sphexish behaviors, improv and the cynefin model

Again, the kind of mix that gives FFI its unique flavor


Equally important, did anyone read these issues? The good news is yes  and of course these articles remain on line indefinitely so please go back and read the ones you missed, or reread the ones you liked, and please, forward to colleagues. As of today about 25% of the 5000 people who receive The Practitioner read all or some parts of these articles each week! And…the readers were from more than 60 different countries!

Now as you probably know, “the girl in the orange chair” always likes to go beyond the boundaries of FFI, however interesting they are. So here’s a little more on the topic based on the categories in the March 26 introduction to this series.

Definitions and thoughts on complexity –what do others think?

“I never knew anybody . . . who found life simple. I think a life or a time looks simple when you leave out the details.”
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Birthday of the World and Other Stories

“Abandon the urge to simplify everything, to look for formulas and easy answers, and to begin to think multi-dimensionally, to glory in the mystery and paradoxes of life, not to be dismayed by the multitude of causes and consequences that are inherent in each experience  to appreciate the fact that life is complex.”
M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Travelled

If our brains were simple enough for us to understand them, we’d be so simple that we couldn’t.”
Ian Stewart, The Collapse of Chaos: Discovering Simplicity in a Complex World

“Today the network of relationships linking the human race to itself and to the rest of the biosphere is so complex that all aspects affect all others to an extraordinary degree. Someone should be studying the whole system, however crudely that has to be done, because no gluing together of partial studies of a complex nonlinear system can give a good idea of the behavior of the whole. ”
Murray Gell-Mann, The Quark and the Jaguar

“It doesn’t matter how much you want. What really matters is how much you want it. The extent and complexity of the problem does not matter as much as does the willingness to solve it.”
― Ralph Marston, The Power of Then Billion Dreams

New words:

Before the April 9 issue, The Practitioner had never heard the term sphexish. How many of you (honestly) knew it had to do with bees??

New ideas:

If the Improv article taught you four things you should always say and lawyers article taught you how many kinds of lawyers there are (minimally 13!), here is a combination article from Inc. Magazine on five things to never say if you’re the mediator!

Entire conferences on complexity:

Governance in a complex world (Netherlands)

International Psychiatric Conference: “Neurobiology and Complex Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders and Addiction” (Poland)

Or…just come to the FFI annual global conference on Family Enterprise: Complexities, Constellations and Constituencies! Register today.

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