- Complexity is an emergent property of systems, whether good or bad, efficient of inefficient, anything that can be considered complex can be considered a system. Complexity, alone, is neither good or bad.
- As an emergent property of systems, the degree of complexity increases with the intrinsic growth of the system, i.e. the number of possible connections increases faster than the number of connected nodes - Metcalfe’s Law, not even raising the consideration that the nodes could act as autonomous agents, or in the case of business and politics as customers and constituents respectively. Attempting to take complexity out of a system is like expecting to extract all the heat from a fire but leave the flame.
- Complexity does not equate to chaos, rather complexity exists at the edge of chaos. This is a factor of Complexity Theory as cited by this SlideShare presentation - Edge of Chaos - second slide.
- It has been said that, “Complexity is more difficult in the abstract than in the living.” Instead of thinking in terms of complexity versus simplicity perhaps it should be coherent complexity (closer to a natural complexity) versus incoherent complexity (manmade). Coherent seems the best word here in my view. The role of management today is to get as close to systems of coherent complexity as possible. Our institutions attempt to create systems that approximate coherent complexity but are in reality, highly and intricately complicated and move to a more incoherent complexity over time.
- Complexity is not separate and distinct from or in opposition to simplicity. Systems can contain aspects of both complexity and simplicity. Nature melds aspects of both complexity and simplicity within the same system through coherent complexity. We often attempt to tame complexity through ostensibly simple processes which instead turn out to be merely simplistic and shallow subsequently growing increasingly complicated and unsustainable.
- Complexity should be considered a separate and distinct descriptor of systems as opposed to complicated. Despite the mainstream dictionary meaning of both words containing the other, we need greater precision in their use. I borrowed my operational use of these terms from others in the post New Community Paradigms Thinking Requires Systems Thinking. Whether the appearance of complexity within an environment is actually inherent complexity or induced complications within the relevant systems would need to be determined.
- That same post put forth an argument that government institutions address complex challenges facing communities by developing complicated processes. Initially, this makes sense as it provides a means of breaking up a complex challenge into manageable steps, providing the means of creating an algorithmic approach, and allocating resources. It stops working though when the complexities of the larger system, in which the institution exists, outstrips the capacity of the locally created system which becomes more complicated or increasingly incoherent as a complex system. This is made worse if the institutionally created complicated system then develops its own inherent internal hindrances as a means of ensuring its own survival making it even more obtusely complicated, no longer existing for the benefit of those it was supposedly designed to serve.
- Man-made complex systems are invariably inadequate attempts to replicate natural evolutionary systems and prone to eventual failure (see John Gall) through if nothing else some form of information entropy. Our complaints about complexity are more about our inability to sail with the winds of natural coherent complexity and our expectation that instead it bend to our will.
- This means that we would not have a modern market based economy without complexity.
Drastically decrease the nodes and connections of an economic system and we can return to bartering. Do a little less so and we can return to the ‘yell at the customer sales approach for increasingly crappy products’ approach. Complexity is not a hinderance of a market economy, it is a basis for it, providing pathways of innovation. particularly disruptive innovation. Complexity properly addressed through innovation, particularly disruptive innovation as raised by Christensen, can add tremendous value.
It is intended to offer resources and explore ideas with the potential of purposefully directing the momentum needed for communities to create their own new community paradigms.
It seeks to help those interested in becoming active participants in the governance of their local communities rather than merely passive consumers of government service output. This blog seeks to assist individuals wanting to redefine their role in producing a more direct democratic form of governance by participating both in defining the political body and establishing the policies that will have an impact their community so that new paradigms for their community can be chosen rather than imposed.
Friday, July 26, 2013
Complexity Addressed From On High
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