If Bill Gates were to cash out - An example of complexity

iphone 6 Plus Bill Gates WallpaperUnderstanding the different domains of complexity is such a powerful thing that I am constantly looking for examples I can use to explain it to newcomers.

In 2011 I wrote what has become one of my more popular posts where I described the difference to the warehouse manager of the company I was working for and Frank Connolly touched on the butterfly effect of small changes.

But as Aprill Allen says, "Knowledge is not understanding" and so I am always looking for visceral examples to help connect the dots for people, and here is one to think about:
Imagine if Bill Gates wanted to sell ALL his shares in Microsoft. How much would he get?
The simple way would be to take today's share price for MSFT and multiple by the number of shares he is selling.
Now that won't work because you need buyers.  A complicated approach will review the depth and take in to account the diminishing sale price by volume.
But of course, a sale of that many shares would take time and journalists, large funds, banks and a highly networked public will change their buying/selling behavior based on their trusted interactions, news media, advisers, available cash reserves and the general economic climate. A complex approach would probably involve a number of smaller sales to test the market, or even attempt to build sentiment before the main sale in order to maximize profit.
Just as a side note, Bill Gates is selling his stock in Microsoft.  He seems to be doing it at a predetermined and fixed rate. Perhaps he needs to read this post? :)

Of course if you really want to understand the Cynefin framework then Laurel Sutton's one day course is brilliant, and if you are in Europe then going to the source (David Snowden) is probably even better.  If you are a leader wondering how this effects your business I highly recommend David's post A Leader's Framework for Decision Making.

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