Tim Harford gives a TEDTalk about the god complex and trial and error

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Abandoning the God complex and embracing trial and error in innovation

July 26, 2018

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Embracing randomness and making better mistakes is the moral of this 2011 TEDGlobal talk from economics writer Tim Harford. In Trial, error and the God Complex, the speaker touches on how the most successful complex systems have evolved through trial and error, through variation and selection.

Harford notes how the God Complex – the belief of many leaders across a range of industries that they know all the answers – limits the ability to solve problems. He calls on people to abandon the complex, and instead use humility as a problem-solving technique that actually works.

“We have no idea why a certain thing will work. No idea at all. But the moment you step back from the God Complex and you say ‘let’s just try a bunch of stuff’, ‘let’s have a systematic way of determining what’s working and what’s not’, you can solve your problem.”

For further insights into how to innovate, take a look at our Practitioners’ Guide.

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