This paper considers two contrasting viewpoints: Complex responsive processes which deal with interactions in the present, and complex adaptive systems which focus on learning through the production of what are called mental models. The paper shows that rather than being contradictory, these viewpoints are – at least in some respects - complementary. Complex responsive processes involve reflections on interactions that take place in time. But you cannot stop time so these present reflections always refer back to a present now gone. Complex adaptive systems are analytic tools. They are not explicitly in the present or in time at all, but they shape our thoughts and actions which are in the present. They shape how we behave, respond and think in a context. In this way we can combine, or reorganise, the approach to complex responsive processes and complex adaptive systems to show how humans address the complex notions of our world.