Uncertainty is a part of our world – and it does not always stem just from a lack of data or knowledge. In public policy and in management great efforts are expended to reduce and eradicate it through modelling, predictions and risk assessment. Yet complexity science suggests that many of those efforts will be fruitless as they overlook a key systems feature – irreducible uncertainty.

Looking at some – not all – issues through a complexity lens can lead to different solutions that are not intelligible without it. Considering path dependencies, contagious norms, network effects, phase transitions shines light on new pathways and policy options that otherwise may well remain hidden.

Complexity is not a new paradigm, merely a profound expansion of our frame. The more limited reductionist approach can still be appropriate, albeit applied purposefully and making its assumptions explicit.

RKC provides advice to a range of global clients, on issues such as urban resilience, energy transition , scenarios or risk management. Roland Kupers has published widely through editorials, blogs, books and papers. Other offerings are speeches, facilitation and teaching.

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