February 02, 2006


Anecdote: Complexity thinking can change how you think about problems in your organisation

I have been reading aboout complexity since Stuart started lecturing me on it back in 2001. His enthusiasm led me to buying numerous books and attending a number of seminars at the LSE and be inspired by people like Dave Snowden (but that's another story).

This post that I picked up earlier, though is a fantastic summary of complexity and system thinking inspired by Kurt Richardson:

  • The complementary law: A complex system is a system that has two or more potentially contradictory descriptions.
  • There is no right person, right answer, right perspective, right description.

  • System holism principle: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts
  • You’re not going to be able to get an outcome you want through control.

  • Incompressibility (Darkness principle): The best representation of a complex system is the system itself
  • When organisational issues and problems arise, it is a common mindset to want to dive into analysis mode. More and more analysis. Lets strive towards a description and understanding of this problem. The only problem is that it won’t happen. As this principle suggests, we will always be in the shadow the whole, and of course, the whole is greater than the parts. Couple this with the first principle and what do you do with all those contradictory descriptions and findings anyway?!

Posted by Paul Goodison at February 2, 2006 01:35 PM | TrackBack

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The evolution of complexity in nature

Posted by: Jacques Richard at February 19, 2006 07:50 PM
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