How from order does complexity emerge? Part 2 – Distance between company states and starting point

Complexity does not appear without any reason. There are signs and forces, such as Distance between company states and starting point that can indicate and explain how complexity created.

The goal of this series of posts is to explain in plain business English (well, in my English :-)) how complexity arises from very stable and order organizations. I hope that this series will help you to understand this phenomenon and to be able to better deal with it. Each one of these posts explains one driving force to complexity as defines by chaos theory.

Distance between company states and starting point

Let me start with a simple explanation. A company has a set of states that are changing over time. When the distance between states won’t follow a linear path, the organization experience complexity. Now, let’s try to get into the details.

Imagine that we have a space that defines all the optional states of an organization and we print on it a sequence of organization states based on several dimensions (two or more). If we capture the sequence of events based on several dimensions (people, groups, data, technologies, policies, processes, etc.) over time and plot them, we can readily visualize the relative distance between plot points (company states). 

As the dots on the plot switch between depicting very close and very far distance between the organization’s states in inconsistent cycles instead of maintaining a line of states, the organization transits toward complexity. This behavior is created by stretch and tear pattern. The pattern takes the states far away from each other and back close to each other in endless unrepeatable loops. 

For example, if we plot states based on the changes of people, technologies, and processes over time; we can see the states switch from being close to being far in unrepeatable cycles. When we see this switching, we can assume that the organization is becoming more complex.

The starting point of the measured organization’s dimension will have a dramatic influence on the final results. The non-repeating cycles of the distance between states are what eventually drives the end result of the system. For the purpose of this post, the distance between the organization states and the starting points of the captures system elements (people, technologies, processes as an example) that used to define states are phenomena that indicate increased complexity in the system.

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