A complex world demands
complex thinking

There is a gap between the complicated world we have created and the default ways we think about it. We need greater complexity in our thinking to match the complexity in our world.

“Loved Ted Cadsby’s book Closing the Mind Gap…must-read for anyone wanting to tackle complexity!“

Amanda Lang: Anchor of BNN Bloomberg, journalist and author

“Ted Cadsby has done us all a favour with this lucid tour of humanity’s approach to thinking through the complexity of our world."

Roger Martin: Author and former Dean of the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

“Cadsby’s ideas are vital for anyone seeking to understand and tackle the complex problems that confront all of us. Read them and prosper.“

Don Tapscott: CEO of The Tapscott Group, Chairman of Blockchain Research Institute and author

How are complex problems different?

Our minds evolved expertise in managing straightforward problems where cause and effect are clearly linked. But our intuitions mislead us when we are confronted by complex problems defined by multiple, interacting causes.

Straightforward Problem:

Simple, unidirectional cause-effect

Complex Problem:

Multiple, interacting causal relationships

What is complex thinking?

It starts by understanding the gap between our default ways of thinking about things and the way a complex world actually works.

Then it closes the gap with more sophisticated mental strategies that are suited to modern-world complexity.


We rely on two mental shortcuts

We survive by responding to the world quickly. We do this by simplifying and satisficing.

We simplify everything we think about. Then we lock down on the first reasonable interpretations we come up with.

These two shortcuts work brilliantly in a world of straightforward problems. But no so much with complex problems where they result in oversimplification and overconfidence.

We live in two worlds simultaneously

World #1 is populated by straightforward problems where cause and effect are obvious and tightly linked, enabling our intuitions to be very reliable.

World #2 is populated by complex problems where causal relationships are intricate, multidirectional and hidden. Our mental shortcuts are poorly suited to this world.

In World #1 we know more than we can even say. In World #2 we know less than we think.

The Mind Gap

We get into trouble when we treat the two worlds as if they were the same. They are not.

When intuition that works in a straightforward world is applied to a complex one, the Mind Gap arises.


Upping our game in World #2

Coping with complexity requires more sophisticated and often unintuitive mental strategies.

Insights from complexity science, cognitive science and philosophy empower us to manage the complexity of World #2.

The antidote to oversimplifying

The key to understanding complexity is to uncover the interconnections that characterize a complex system.

The tools of complexity science allow us to dissect the causal relationships embedded in complex problems.

The antidote to overconfidence

The key to better decision making is to understand how the human mind draws conclusions: how our addiction to certainty makes us vulnerable to overconfidence.

Cognitive science and philosophy reveal that complexity requires a more refined notion of truth than the one that serves us in World #1. Truth in World #2 can only ever be provisional.

Ted on YouTube

Ted has been extensively interviewed by the media and given many speeches on leadership and tackling complex problems.

What is complex leadership?

It starts by understanding the strengths and vulnerabilities of group dialogue.
It uses this knowledge to leverage cognitive diversity within a group.


The missing leadership ingredient

21st century complexity has made the need for high quality conversation more pressing than ever. But deep, productive discussion is not self-generating.

Today’s leader has to be a strong facilitator of dialogue: a Chief Conversation Facilitator.


Fostering constructive dissent

Leaders as facilitators avoid the traps that teams are vulnerable to such as group think and group polarization.

These leaders foster the constructive dissent that deepens discussion, synthesizes diverse perspectives and corrects individual error.


Avoiding path dependence

A discussion is path-dependent if it follows a narrow path driven by dominating ideas that lead to invalid conclusions and bad decisions. Path dependence permeates team meetings, board retreats, jury deliberations and political agendas.

The leader-as-facilitator creatively expands the paths that conversations take in order to cover more conceptual territory.