Call it what you will, it’s the all too familiar water we’re swimming in—and will be swimming in for some time to come. Familiar enough that it now has a name: Polycrisis. Or Polycrises. Permacrisis. Messes of messes. Wicked problems. When “the whole is worse than the sum of its parts.” (BTW, did you know that a proton weighs less than the sum of its parts?! But that’s another weirdness for another time.)

I’ve talked about “polycrisis” and messes before, both in these newsletters and in our monthly Living Between Worlds conversations (archived here). The tangled webs we* weave don’t lend themselves to simple, single, or sequential solutions.

Which is why people turn to systems thinking, biomimcry, and other integrative approaches, in their various forms and guises, to dissolve simplistic assumptions and bring some of the richness of complexity into view.

Though, of course,

“All that happens is the cause of all that happens. Causes are numberless; the idea of a sole cause is an illusion.”

~Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Fortunately, some people understand that while “…an apparent solution to one crisis can worsen others, as when environmental protections were loosened in some countries to try to counteract pandemic-related economic slowdowns,” Fernando Redivo writes, “the same interconnections that lead to cascading crises also open up the possibility of synergistic solutions.” The Multisolving Institute, Warm Data Labs, and this ClimateWeek panel on Multisolving for Permacrisis explore these opportunities in a decidedly different way.


As do we, both in Living Between Worlds and in my individual coaching work. Both are intentionally light on structure, rich in provocation, fluid in the flow of conversation, yet not without a bit of pattern. (Our strategic sustainability consulting engagements tend to have more structure, of course, and more defined outcomes, but even there part of the value we bring is cultivating the opportunity for the unexpected to emerge.)

Someone on Twitter just asked: “What do you find yourself coaching others in most?” I responded:

  • Speaking—and listening—clearly.
  • Observing mood.
  • Questioning interpretations, including your own. (It’s all interpretation!)
  • Being clear on what you and others care about and are committed to.
  • Making and keeping promises.

The close of the year is a perfect time for deep reflection and course correction. Call me, or just reply to this email (or click one of the links above), and let’s see what Good Trouble we might be able to generate together.

In solidarity,

*PS: Ken Homer notes that people use “we” in many different ways—the people in this immediate group, people like us, fellow nationals, humans in general, all life—without clear distinction, often in multiple ways in the same sentence. Messy, and worth noticing.

Gil Philip Friend • Trimtab4Trimtabs™ coaching
CEO, Natural Logic, Inc. • Founder, Critical Path CapitalKeynote Speaker—Book me now!
Tel: 1-510-248-4940 | Blog | LinkedIn | Twitter | Mastodon | Facebook | My YouTube channel

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