Jurgen Appelo: Complexity Thinking Presentation
Stephen Bounds — Mon, 31/10/2011 - 07:07
Jurgen Appelo has put together a ripper presentation titled "Complexity Thinking or Systems Thinking++?" which does a really neat job of synthesising current and past thinking into a modern and accessible take:
Well worth a read. The key takeaway message boils down to quotes from Max Boisot on slides 135-136:
Complexity reduction entails getting to
understand the complexity and acting on it
directly, including attempting environmental
enactment. Complexity absorption entails
creating options and risk-hedging strategies ...
Insofar as the business environment is becoming
more complex, firms will need to shift [from]
complexity-reducing strategies [to] complexity-absorbing
ones - a shift away from bureaucracies ...
– Max Boisot, The Interaction of Complexity and Management
For the record, my quibbles with Jurgen's presentation are as follows:
- Slide 74: I don't believe that it is impossible to build confirmatory models in complexity theory, just that such models need to be couched in the language of propensity rather than simple cause and effect.
- Slide 96: I would like more to back up the assertion that "multiple weak models can make just as much sense as one strong model" in complexity theory. I'd also disagree with the "better than no models" assertion: if the model leads, on average, to worse decisions than having no model then there is no net gain.
- Slide 168ff: What I find interesting about an organisation's purpose is that when formed, an organisation's initial purpose is almost always clear – perhaps compound motives, but clear. It is only the evolution of the organisation over time which causes the diffusion of motives and purpose that makes strategic direction so difficult to implement.
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