The Knock-On Effect… pun intended.

Anne Knock
2 min readApr 22, 2021


It seems apt, the knock-on effect is described as something that causes other things to happen. These ‘other things’ can be expected or unexpected. The device known as Newton’s cradle offers a predictable knock-on effect. A ball swings in at one end, and something to do with momentum and energy causes the ball at the other end to swing out. It’s a metaphor for a simple cause and effect decision-making process, those actions that produce an anticipated outcome.

The knock-on effect can be both predictable and surprising.

Yet in other endeavours of life an action or decision can elicit unexpected outcomes. Getting fit is a good example of this, which I know from my own experience over the last 12 months or so. While my motivation was broadly ‘get healthy and get fitter’, I was surprised by the knock-on effects on motivation, creativity, and a generally improved mood. These were less predictable and surprising outcomes of the process, something that caused other things to happen.

How often have we heard the words complex, unprecedented and unexpected in recent times? The global pandemic emerged as a serious health crisis, but had knock-on effects, including an economic crisis and a mental health crisis. Yet, there were also unexpected outcomes along the way, some businesses flourished in the new-normal, and perhaps we all gained a greater appreciation of the humans in our world.

This view is consistent with my study into complexity. My PhD thesis is exploring the beauty of a complex future. These are the circumstances when our carefully curated goals and clearly mapped-out strategy are no longer a predictor of success. That’s why I call myself a ‘complexity strategist’, helping people, groups and organisations to explore opportunities in our world, generally through adopting a design mindset.This path is not necessarily predictable and clear, but it means we are open to unexpected benefits, those we may not be able to plan for.

My purpose here is to explore complexity, share what I am learning and see how to apply complementary principles and practices in this complex, unprecedented and unexpected world.

Basically, I want to help people. Drop by from time to time or subscribe and join me on the journey.