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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Is complexity a knotty question?

After suggesting to me to read "Simplicity on the Other Side of Complexity" by Keith McCandless I think so-called complex or complicated issues are the very questions which persons and management of any level face every day.

What actions can be taken if people say: "it’s complex"? I often hear it as an excuse to do nothing and avoid responsibility, to say that context is unfavorable, etc. If you will not take action, things may turn out against you or am I in the wrong?

But let’s try clarifying the question.

"Complicated" and "complex" are mostly "far from certainty and agreement" and are between "simple" and "anarchy" (Simplicity on the Other Side of Complexity, p. 7):

"Leaders in complex systems cannot control the behavior of all the agents in the system. They cannot control changes either inside or outside their organizations. The alternative is to engage, authentically, with others to learn about and respond to changes as they arise. Leaders must be as willing to be transformed as they are to transform others" (Keith McCandless).

It sounds like - complex systems are insuperable problem. Persons built these complex systems and persons can simplify them. Who else? Organization consists of persons and every person can be leader for his/her personal changes.

Consider - what is bad in control?

I can understand "command and control" sounds like war or bureaucratic term, but it means "power to direct something". If you direct yourself and/or others towards long healthy and prosperous life not limiting others in the same - what’s bad in that?

For example, with a use of the frame work for collaborative self-consulting you can identify the content, according to which the cash-flow happens and the persons, who deal with content, correct the content, persons’ interactions (or ask them about it by demonstrating them the results of their interactions or possible results) and plan the possible future.

But note that any plan isn’t a dogma or a reason to prepare a defensive strategy (against positive difference, employees, partners, customers, etc.).

Any plan must be timely corrected and the mentioned framework is designed for that.

It’s true that if plans, persons, content, representation of knowledge about organization are not dynamically interconnected, plans remain on the paper.

Don’t be weakened before complexity and make positive changes.


Anonymous said...

The fundamental meaning of "Simplicity on the other side of Complexity" - I believe - is that all things complex, when understood, become intuitive. A teacher who attempts to teach a topic s/he has not mastered cannot intuitively understand the fundamental dynamics and relationships within the topic. That mastery leads to the intuitive understanding which is the Simplicity of the topic or discipline - when fully comprehended. Anything is simple if you understand it.

When approaching any topic as a learner, the student must realize there is Simplicity "on the other side of the Complexity" s/he is about to encounter. If s/he can work through the difficulties of gradual comprehension, intuitive understanding is waiting on the other side.

Nikolay Kryachkov said...

I agree – "Anything is simple if you understand it".

But how to deal with intuition, if it’s "instinctive knowledge of or belief about something without conscious reasoning"? Or maybe you have another understanding of intuition?

I think intuition can increase a speed of taking actions, but can lead to wrong direction as well (if not based on reasoning). It this case knowledge is problematically to transfer (teach/learn), because one has intuition and another one hasn’t it.

Why not consider reasoning (1. the process of drawing conclusions from facts or evidence 2. the conclusions reached in this way) as building knowledge? If so, reasoning according to simple structure might increase a speed of all the process – building knowledge – knowledge transfer – taking actions (teach/learn and practice).

Anonymous said...

Good point. Intuition can be considered a "natural" (genetic?) talent implicit in the person's charatcer, allowing that person to comprehend certain things more clearly than others might. I am using intuition as a developed skill based on the full comprehension of a body of knowledge. Riding a bike might be a good example, in that once your body has experienced/understood the requirements to move the bike forward in the desired direction (and stop it!), this knowledge/skill becomes "second nature" (a dangerous use of that term). To move the discussion into a more "complex" environment, the study of mathematics eventually becomes intuitive as the learner recognizes the rules, options, relationships and possible answers to drive toward. Having this background allows for the intuitive understanding of mathematics as I am using the term.

But then there is also be the "natural/genetic" (my use of these terms) understanding which you refer to in your comment. This capability makes the creation/development of the second intuition (perhaps "trained" intuition) easier for the owner of the "genetic" to achieve the "trained."

This and other discussions on this blog are great examples of the need for constant refinement of definitions.