Sunday, September 11, 2011

Complex or Complicated

Managing a business today is fundamentally different than it was just 30 years ago. The most profound difference, we’ve come to believe, is the level of complexity people have to cope with.
Complexity is increased by new technology ,new types of collaboration ......everything what seems complicated.

In everyday usage, we often use "complicated" and "complex" interchangably. Which makes it a little bit hard to discuss complexity. Let's make the difference:

- Complicated:

Complicated systems have many moving parts, but they operate in patterned ways. The electrical grid that powers the light is complicated: There are many possible interactions within it, but they usually follow a pattern. It’s possible to make accurate predictions about how a complicated system will behave. For instance, flying a commercial airplane involves complicated but predictable steps, and as a result it’s astonishingly safe. Implementing a Six Sigma process can be complicated, but the inputs, practices, and outputs are relatively easy to predict.

Many complicated things can be understood by isolating them from everything else, by taking them apart, understanding all the parts, understanding how they're put together, and we might then know something useful that we can apply the same way again and again. 
We can invent complicated things the same way, by putting together parts we understand, based on principles we understand. 
That all works quite well for mechanical stuff, and has brought us bridges and automobiles and phone systems and western medicine. 
Some people are so happy with all of these that they intuitively have adopted the belief system that this really is all that exists: the stuff we can take apart and put back together again.

- Complexity

Complex is when something acts as a system, and it is exhibiting systemic properties that aren't obvious. It is something more and different than simply a sum of its parts. There might or might not be many parts, but the result is something not very transparent, which takes on a life of its own in some fashion. 

It’s harder to predict what will happen, because complex systems interact in unexpected ways. It’s harder to make sense of things, because the degree of complexity may lie beyond our cognitive limits. And it’s harder to place bets, because the past behavior of a complex system may not predict its future behavior.
In a complex system the outlier is often more significant than the average. 
Let's summarize:

An Airbus A380 is complicated. A jellyfish is complex.
The Paris Metro network is complicated. How people use it is complex. 
Your skeleton is complicated. You are complex. 
A building is complicated. A city is complex.

Complex systems have always existed, of course—and business life has always featured the unpredictable, the surprising, and the unexpected. 

But complexity has gone from something found mainly in large systems, such as cities, to something that affects almost everything we touch: the products we design, the jobs we do every day, and the organizations we oversee.

Complex organizations are far more difficult to manage than merely complicated ones. And it should be a big mistake to manage complex systems as they would be complicated.

Managers has to know these differences , otherwise the failures will be very expensive.

 Life itself is something mysterious and very complex.  The fact that the universe exists and that it appears to be somehow ordered and livable, that's quite wild. Consciousness is something strange and hard to fathom. All of that is complex.

Stuff that is complex can not be cut in pieces and be isolated :it requires a new model.
You have to see the interpendencies between the parts of the system, and everything has to be integrated into the whole.
Systemsthinking, which will give you a clear view into complexitycan be learned , so there is hope for the future!!

This new mindset will be a necessity , certainly for leaders and managers to develop their organisations in order to obtain sustainable succes in their business:

Have a look at

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