Interview with John Cutler on Navigating the Everyday (Beautiful) Mess

We talked to John Cutler, one of our master class teachers in this year’s leading complexity program. John has a background in product management and UX, and is a Senior Director of Product Enablement at Toast. 

We discussed  “complexity,” What it is, what the implications are for leaders today, and the topics of his talk: Navigating the Everyday (Beautiful) Mess.

Here are some key points.

Even if there are academic definitions, the theory is different from implementing it in real-world, busy environments. 

For John, complexity is the natural flow of working with people and organizations. According to him, complexity is characterized by multi-layered situations with nonlinear dynamics where things emerge, and there are flywheel effects, which he will explore more in his class. In short, it is the Beautiful Mess that he likes writing about.

Often, people who talk about complexity don’t appreciate the complexity of applying complexity right, so there’s actually, in some sense, a bit of a smugness that happens.

If someone is working in a busy, overwhelmed environment like many of us, how do you artfully apply these ideas as part of your experience in ways that don’t overwhelm people and make things even harder?

You know, I always think it’s funny too when you know you go to a conference about anything with complexity, and then we walk out of the session, and everyone is falling for the exact same problems that they talk about. In their personal and work lives, we’re all a mess when it comes to these things.

If you want to hear more from John Cutler, sign up for the Leading Complexity program.

See the interview here.

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