How to deal with complex systems

We (as people) and everything around us is systems. We are all set of elements that interact with each other to reach specific goals. Some of the systems around us are simple. They have few elements and expected behavior. Some of the systems are complicated. They have many elements yet a predictable behavior. Finally, we and most systems around us are complex, with many elements that yield an unpredictable behavior.

Most of us don’t understand complex systems! Therefore we have the challenge of finding the root causes of complex systems problems and thus resolving those problems. The root cause of this problem is our focus on breaking problems apart to understand a system.

While the above approach is a perfect fit for simple and complicated problems, it is NOT A FIT for complex issues. Three main concepts make the difference between simple/complicated and Complex.

First, complex systems are non-deterministic. They are unpredictable! Any attempt to forecast their future behavior is grounded in deterministic thinking. It is a waste of time. One might manage to predict complex system behavior with luck, but never consistently.

Second, complex systems are non-linear. There isn’t a simple linear cause and effect as we expect any system to follow. There is no correlation between the effort invested in a complex system and the results one might expect. Complex systems are also bidirectional in nature. If A impact B, somehow B impact A as well.

Third, breaking a complex system into smaller parts won’t help understand the system. Understanding the system required and understanding the dynamics between all the elements that create a system and other elements of external systems that interact with the system we try to understand.

Understanding complex systems requires different thinking than most of us acquired at school. Additional tools are also needed to get a better understanding of complex systems. One of the most known tools is Systems Thinking. Knowing the tools won’t give any advantage without different thinking. Without the correct thinking, one will misuse the tools.

Learning how to understand and deal with complex systems is an effort that takes a lot of time and effort. Still, it is an essential need for any business today. Recognizing this gap is the reason why we started Galaxies. We provide this knowledge and understanding while freeing your time to focus on your business.

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