CPX 2011 Complexity and the game of go

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My CPX presentation introducing people to the concepts of Complexity theory and how it can be applied to the business world using the ancient game of Go as a learning tool. …

My CPX presentation introducing people to the concepts of Complexity theory and how it can be applied to the business world using the ancient game of Go as a learning tool.

Go is the most revered of Asian strategy board games. But simply calling Go a game is like calling the space shuttle a glider. It has been used for centuries to discuss and model political, economic and military strategy in China and Japan.

Often Go has been compared to Chess to highlight the differences between Eastern and Western thought, but Chess and Go can be used to highlight the differences between what's 'Complicated' and 'Complex'. Learning the difference is a great way to recognise and explore complex environments for appropriate practice and management.

This 'go playing' session aimed to introduce participants in a tacit and engaging way by to complexity theory; how an understanding of complexity can be used to look at business and manage change; and how the game of Go can be used as both a metaphor and a brain training exercise for managing success in complex environments.

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  • What is complexity theory? Complexity Exercise How do we learn about it? - Practice! The idea Gamification History of Go Difference between GO & Chess Basic Rules How to score Practice Ear Reddening Game Link back to Complexity and discuss
  • Mechanical metaphor wearing thin.  Being replaced by organic ones. Academic world working on Chaos theory with stronger explanatory power.
  • In IBM’s 2010 report on 1500 CEOs attitudes, it found that Complexity has replaced change as the #1 factor keeping CEOs awake at night. http://bit.ly/lliWVu
  • Snowden the best way for business people to understand how Complexity might apply to them. And even more importantly when you need to adapt because you are in the complex domain. QUOTE: Your model of the world (Ontology) should always drive your thinking about solutions (Epistemology). Ie: When you are up to your waste in a swamp, arguing about whether the Falcon or the Commodore is a better solution is a waste of time!
  • EXPLAIN Cynefin.
  • So what is complexity? It is where many agents work and interact simultaneously, often with just a few simple rules in play.
  • Story of SBS girl and discovering that while an environment can appear extremely chaotic, complex ones have a fabric with certain patterns that emerge.
  • Obliquity: Niko - puck handling.                  Who is in control of the pucks direction?                  The key is that to try and break that question down suggests more control is required.                  More control actually decreases the players chance of getting the puck in the goal!
  • Complexity Theory is new, but people have been finding ways to deal with complexity for thousands of years.  Games have been one way of modelling these environments and given the more holistic view of the world in the East, many Eastern games have less focus on direct cause and effect, and one in particular, GO, takes complexity as it's base concept.  The way many medievel Chinese and Japanese noblemen learned about operating in complex situations was by learning to play the game of Go and becoming comfortable with the "fabric". It wasn't learning the rules of Go that make them better, but rather the process one has to go through in order to excel at the game that made them more able to find success in the real world.
  • Resilience is the ability to respond to problems and adapt to solve them. Robustness is about predicting every possible failure and having a contingency.
  • Resilience is the ability to respond to problems and adapt to solve them. Robustness is about predicting every possible failure and having a contingency.
  • More possible ending points than there are atoms in the visible universe.
  • "A game of go is symbolic of the gradual occupation of our planet by the human race. It's sides are the coasts, washed by oceans and seas. The corners can be compared to islands or peninsulas.  Those parts having a greater coastline are more easily defended. The central part of the map corresponds to the centre of continents where the inhabitants have no outlet to the sea.
  • In the beginning, men were very few and the families or tribes had all the territory they desired without need for offensive or defensive action.  They lived in a state of nature.  
  • But with the multiplication of human beings began the first struggles for the appropriation of the best places along the rivers and sea coasts.  As the game develops and bases have been consolidated, advance to the interior is begun.  The occupation of this territory is rendered permanent by the formation of live masses.
  • When the war ends peace treaties are made.  All territories on the map are occupied.  In one place we find large or small masses that have definitely won their territory, in another, masses living side by side respecting the rights of their neighbours whom they can never hope to dislodge. We have not arrived, in our world, at the state of finality achieved at the end of a game of go." From 'The Game of Wei-Chi', by Count Daniele Pecorini and Tong Shu.
  • The two main lessons that Go teaches us about managing in a complex environment are: Ambient Awareness. With so many options you cannot predict every possibility. The key is to learn to sense possible threats early and respond lightly and quickly. Adaptive Ability. As a result, your true power comes not from a specific strategy. Planning is still important, but you ability to respond to whatever may occur is the key factor.

Transcript

  • 1. Complexity & the game of Go Teaching the world about complexity, one stone at a time www.DeltaKnowledge.net Stuart French @DeltaKnowledge
  • 2. Is your organisation
    • A Machine?
    • Or is it Organic?
    Image courtesy Flickr: Patrick Hoesly
  • 3. Complexity keeps CEOs awake at night! “ While eight out of ten CEOs anticipate significant complexity ahead, less than half feel prepared to handle it.” “ There isn’t the luxury of time. We used to say, ‘Wait until this crisis is over and we get back to normal,’ but that never happens. We have to be ‘change animals.’” - Michele McKenzie Download at http://bit.ly/IBMcomplexity2010
  • 4. Your Ontology should always drive your Epistemology Dave Snowden
  • 5. Cynefin Framework
  • 6. Getting a grip on Complexity Q. If you knew all the causes, would you always be able to determine the outcome? Lets find out!
  • 7. Getting a grip on Complexity If you knew everybody’s choices before-hand: 1) Could you have predicted everybody’s final position? 2) Could you find a solution as quickly as we just did it? Even with a computer?
  • 8. Moving a puck forward
  • 9.
    • “ W e can understand starting conditions as a complex system evolves and we can influence their evolution if we focus on barriers and attractors but not if we look at the end point.
    • S o attempting to predict the outcome makes things worse not better”
    • Dave Snowden
  • 10. “ When you make the complicated simple, you make it better. But when you make the complex simple, you make it wrong.” - Dave Gray, Founder XPLANE
  • 11. We are not the first to tread this path of complexity
  • 12. How this idea got started Chess = Complicated Go = Complex
  • 13. What is Go?
    • Go is a board game
    • It originally came from Tibet / China
    • Created ≈ 2300 B.C.
    • It is played all over the world, but mainly in
        • Japan (iGo),
        • China (Weiqi) &
        • Korea (Baduk)
    • Have you seen it before?
  • 14. Gamification Go is a great metaphor for managing in complex environments 1 Go is a great way to practice recognising and managing complex environments 2
  • 15. Complicated versus Complex Chess Go
    • 8 x 8 board
    • 19 x 19 board
  • 16. Complicated versus Complex Chess Go
    • Play in squares
    • Kings, Queens, Bishops, Rooks…
    • Play on lines
    • Black stones and White stones of equal value
  • 17. Complicated versus Complex Chess Go
    • Aim: to kill the other players King
    • 1 st 3 moves = 4,352
    • Aim: to surround more territory
  • 18. 1st 3 possible moves = 46,655,640 This makes Go VERY complicated
  • 19. What makes Go Complex? Image thanks to http://gameschoolgems.blogspot.com/2009/12/influence-maps-i.html
  • 20. What makes Go Complex? Image thanks to http://gameschoolgems.blogspot.com/2009/12/influence-maps-i.html
  • 21. Complexity & the game of Go In Go the 4.6 x 10 170 permutations means no two games are the same. Pattern recognition and intuition are key. Rather than dominate, one seeks incremental influence of the board as the nature of the game is revealed. Go can be seen as the story of Human Society:
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  • 35. Basic Rules
    • Start with an empty board
    • Take turns placing stones
    • The aim is to surround as much territory for yourself while reducing your opponents territory
  • 36. Basic Rules
    • Each stone has liberties surrounding it (marked by the green squares)
    • Stones joined by a line to one another are connected and share liberties
  • 37. Basic Rules
    • When a stone has no more liberties it is captured and taken from the board
    • If black plays on any of the green squares white stones will be captured
    • The bigger an army is, the harder it is to capture
  • 38. Safe-Fail experiment: Ponnuki Go First player to capture an opponent’s stone wins! Play fast, learn, adapt. Let the game teach you how to play.
  • 39. Safe-Fail experiment: Ponnuki Go First player to capture an opponent’s stone wins! Play fast, learn, adapt. Let the game teach you how to play.
  • 40. A basic game of Go Play fast, learn, adapt. Let the game teach you how to play.
  • 41. The Suicide Rule
    • “ A stone cannot be played if it has no liberties after it has played”
    • White cannot play at A because he will have no liberties
    A
  • 42. The Suicide Rule
    • “ A stone cannot be played if it has no liberties after it has played”
    • However if white surrounds black first, then a Play at A is OK because black will be captured giving A four liberties
    A
  • 43. Scoring a Go game The winner is determined by their score Score = Points Surrounded + Prisoners taken White wins! White: 12 + 5 = 17 Black: 15 + 1 = 16
  • 44. A few hints to play better
    • Don’t start near the edge
    1 4 2 5 3 6 7 8
  • 45. A few hints to play better
    • Don’t start near the edge
    • Place fence posts then the palings
    1 2 3
  • 46. A few hints to play better
    • Don’t start near the edge
    • Place fence posts then the palings
    • Surround as much area as possible
    Black will win White will win
  • 47. A few hints to play better
    • Don’t start near the edge
    • Place fence posts then the palings
    • Surround as much area as possible
    • Try not to play right up against the other player
    1 2  
  • 48. Now for the real thing Lets try Go!
  • 49. Go’s Key Lessons: 1. Ambient Awareness 2. Adaptive Ability But what does this look like in your organisation?
  • 50. What does Complexity look like?
    • Ambient Awareness
    •    - Weak Signal Detection
    •    - Avoiding over-reliance on KPIs and set metrics
    •    - Using Probes and Pilot projects to determine
    • Adaptive Ability
    •    - Resilience instead of Robustness
    •    - Focus on Safe-Fail and Response-Ability
    •    - Act Learn Adjust (Duncan Brodie)
  • 51. More resources
    • Interactive Go Tutorial
    • http://playgo.to/iwtg/en/
    • Video Introduction to playing Go
    • http://blip.tv/file/262606/
    • Go Software:
    • iGoWIN (free 9x9 game)
      • http://bit.ly/Qt9Tb
    • SmartGo Pro (iPhone)
    • American Go Association Software List
      • http://bit.ly/5BORFw
    • Kids
    • Hikaru no Go – Anime video
    Complexity Tutorial http://bit.ly/4sfHYG David Snowden’s Blog http://bit.ly/1BOdoN Cognitive Edge Podcasts http://bit.ly/28a7Zu Articles: Managing under complexity: Where is Einstein when you really need him? Coping with Complexity Images: Thanks to IGS, FracturedPixel