#037 Solve Everything At Once

Nora Bateson on systems thinking, warm data & singing out loud


Nora Bateson is an award-winning filmmaker, writer and educator. She wrote, directed and produced the beautiful documentary, ‘An Ecology of Mind: A daughter’s portrait of Gregory Bateson’ - perhaps the world’s most renowned pioneer of systems thinking. And she has most recently developed the vital concept of ‘warm data’ – breathing life back into the deeply problematic phenomenon of ‘big data’.

Nora Bateson and Anthony James. Pic: Peter Le Breton.

Nora Bateson and Anthony James. Pic: Peter Le Breton.

When I have witnessed systems change, it isn’t incremental, it’s all at once. And, strangely enough, it’s easier to make change all at once, than it is to, you know, keep picking away at something, endlessly, with the drudgery of tomorrow it will get better, and it doesn’t.
— Nora Bateson

In a recent conversation with Douglas Rushkoff on the Team Human podcast, Nora said we need to solve everything at once. Incremental change just doesn’t cut it. Anthony and Nora talk about this idea further here. What does systems thinking offer us with regards to changing our lives and institutions in such a transformative way? And how do we do it?

Nora has summed up her work by saying that she reframes ecology and society by playing with possible shifts in perception, embracing complexity and increasing tenderness. “Given that all of the situations that we need to face now are complex - climate change, culture change, economic volatility, all kinds of mental illness … - all of those things require an understanding of complexity to address.”

How does Nora’s work on ‘warm data’ address all this? How is it going down in the growing number of organisations inviting her presence? How do we live our daily lives with this in mind? And what does improvisation have to do with it?

Nora visited Australia for the first time earlier this year, and spoke with Anthony in Perth.

With thanks to Peter Le Breton and Daryl Taylor.


Get more:

Reasons, by Earth, Wind & Fire.

Breathing, by Kate Bush.

Let Them Know, by the Public Opinion Afro Orchestra.

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