Last week I attended Dave Snowden’s Making Sense of Complexity workshop and, over the next few weeks, I am going to share with you a few of the ‘gems’ I learnt through the experience.

The first of these is about the need to differentiate between people who cook using a recipe book, and chefs, who are able to use whatever ingredients are available at any time, to make a meal.  Following a recipe book provides the user with the security of knowing they will get a defined outcome, but it does not allow for creativity, spontaneity and an ability to respond in the moment.  A chef creates something in the present, mixing, tasting and modifying as they go along.

In natural resources management I believe we tend to follow recipe books in an attempt to make sure we tick all the right boxes to achieve a set ‘target’.  While there is nothing wrong with this, I think it is important to use the recipe book as a guide only, the means to an end, but not the end in itself.  Allow yourself the freedom to adapt, reflect and experiment along the way, as this unleashes our creativity and enables us to get even greater personal and professional rewards along the way.  For more on complexity theory, click here.