Complexity Thinking

Download Complexity Thinking

Post on 11-Aug-2014




1 download

Embed Size (px)


An overview of Systems Thinking, and how to apply the ideas of Complexity Theory to management of systems, with the results being called "Complexity Thinking". This presentation is part of the Management 3.0 course created by Jurgen Appelo.


<ul><li> Jurgen Appelo version 2 Complexity Thinking or Systems Thinking ++ ? The search for simple if not simpleminded solutions to complex problems is a consequence of the inability to deal effectively with complexity. Russell L. Ackoff </li><li>Jurgen Appelo writer, speaker, trainer, entrepreneur... </li><li>Get my new book for FREE! </li><li>story </li><li>What happens when you go to a bar full of systems thinkers and complexity researchers </li><li>Russell L. Ackoff Ralph Stacey Dave Snowden Donella H. Meadows W. Edwards Deming Peter M. Senge Peter F. Drucker Peter Checkland Gerald M. Weinberg John H. Holland Michael C. Jackson John Seddon Max Boisot </li><li>What exactly is the bar? </li><li>Are the people here part of the bar? </li><li>Is the beer part of the bar? </li><li>If we drink the beer, is it still part of the bar? </li><li>What if my beer and I go outside? </li><li>Is the bar a system? </li><li>What is the purpose of the bar? </li><li>Reductionism Holism Complexity Theory Models Complexity Thinking Example Final words </li><li>We converse about abstractions Abstractions are imperfect and incomplete. </li><li>It is a form of interaction The activity of abstracting is basically a form of interaction between people in which they simplify the complexity of their own ordinary, everyday interactions [] in an effort to make meaning of what they are doing []. Ralph Stacey Complexity and Organizational Reality </li><li>To make sense of the world Sense-making is the way that humans choose between multiple possible explanations of sensory input. Dave Snowden </li><li>reductionism reductionism noun ri-dk-sh-ni-zm explanation of complex life-science processes and phenomena in terms of the laws of physics and chemistry a procedure or theory that reduces complex data and phenomena to simple terms </li><li>The bar is... the building, inventory, employees, guests, some interaction, etc... reductionism </li><li>A problem is that people have become addicted to the successes of reductionism. </li><li>Left-brain thinking All system theories were created by engineers and scientists (left-brainers). </li><li>Analysis in management This systems movement [] has come to form the foundation of todays dominant management discourse, so importing the engineers notion of control into understanding human activity. Ralph Stacey Complexity and Organizational Reality </li><li>Problem: Dehumanization Cold numbers in spreadsheets </li><li>Problem: Objectivation Designing human interaction </li><li>Problem: Alienation Instructions from ivory towers </li><li>Problem: Prediction Controlling the future </li><li>Problem: Attribution Blaming people for problems </li><li> Problem: Dehumanization Problem: Objectivization Problem: Alienation Problem: Prediction Problem: Attribution This list of five problems is my abstraction, and my attempt at sense-making! </li><li>Reductionism Holism Complexity Theory Models Complexity Thinking Example Final words </li><li>Revenge for right-brainers Some people have suggested more holistic approaches. </li><li>See the whole system Living systems have integrity. Their character depends on the whole. The same is true for organizations. Peter M. Senge The Fifth Discipline </li><li>Greater than the sum of the parts The enterprise must be a genuine whole: greater than the sum of its parts, with its output larger than the sum of all inputs. Peter F. Drucker Management </li><li>Synthesis, not analysis Analysis is only one way of thinking; synthesis is another. [...] In analysis, something that we want to understand is first taken apart. In synthesis, that which we want to understand is first identified as part of one or more larger systems. Russell L. Ackoff Recreating the Corporation </li><li>But what is the whole </li><li>Problem: Impossible If everything is connected to everything, what is the whole? </li><li>Problem: Unscientific new age fluffy bunnies Dave Snowden </li><li>An unquestioned assumption By formulating a research aim to uncover the fundamental characteristics of systems of various kinds, we were making the unquestioned assumption that the world contained such systems. Peter Checkland Systems Thinking, Systems Practice </li><li>Actually, there are no systems Where to draw a boundary around a system depends on the questions we want to ask. Donella H. Meadows Thinking in Systems </li><li>There are perspectives A system is a way of looking at the world. Gerald M. Weinberg Introduction to General Systems Thinking </li><li>Systems depend on context The boundaries of systems keep shifting, using reductionism and holism. How much to abstract or extend depends on what you want to understand. </li><li>No radical holism/reductionism Complexity theory does not embrace the radical holism of systems theory, the notion that everything matters and everything has to be taken into account. Steve Phelan The Interaction of Complexity and Management </li><li>Reductionism Holism Complexity Theory Models Complexity Thinking Example Final words </li><li>Brains, bacteria, immune systems, the Internet, countries, gardens, cities, beehives Theyre all complex adaptive systems. </li><li>A team is a complex adaptive system (CAS), because it consists of parts (people) that form a system (team), and the system shows complex behavior while it keeps adapting to a changing environment. </li><li>One perspective The properties of complex adaptive systems are: Aggregation Nonlinearity Flows Diversity John H. Holland Hidden Order </li><li>Another perspective There are six notions in complexity theory: Sensitivity to initial conditions (butterfly effect) Strange attractors (unpredictability) Self-similarity (fractals) Self-organization (distributed control) The edge of chaos (emergence) Fitness landscapes (continuous improvement) Michael C. Jackson Systems Thinking: Creative Holism for Managers </li><li>And it evolved like this... Jeffrey Goldstein Complexity and the Nexus of Leadership </li><li>Or like this... </li><li>Or like this... </li><li>Of course, these are all just abstractions... </li><li>Complexity theory itself is complex Papers are being posted on the Web long before publication and there is rapid movement of what could be called precodified or protocodified knowledge. [] I am not saying whether this is good or bad; I am merely suggesting that this is one of the characteristics affecting the evolution of complexity sciences. Max Boisot The Interaction of Complexity and Management </li><li>Complexity theory is about change Complexity theory is not a cohesive theory. It is not one equation. It is really a collection of ideas about the concept of change in complex adaptive systems []. It talks about the dynamics of change in a system. Irene Sanders The Interaction of Complexity and Management </li><li>People and relationships We found that this new science leads to a new theory of business that places people and relationships [] into dramatic relief. Roger Lewin, Birute Regine The Interaction of Complexity and Management </li><li>And about hype I think the next century will be the century of complexity. Stephen Hawking San Jose Mercury News, 23 January 2000 </li><li>And about unification We can justifiably think of Complexity as a sort of umbrella science or even the Science of all Sciences. Neil Johnson Simply Complexity </li><li>But who wants unification? Scholars [] have been understandably reluctant to see their pet subject as simply one more example of some broader 'general system'! Peter Checkland Systems Thinking, Systems Practice </li><li>No consensus, no unification Perhaps because the field has attracted researchers from a wide diversity of home disciplines, there is no consensus as to how to define, measure, describe, or interpret "complexity." Steve Maguire The Interaction of Complexity and Management </li><li>Complexity theory explains why complex problems need multiple perspectives. It is successful in explaining its own failure at being one theory! </li><li>But complexity is growing Accelerating economic and social change in the global economy, the consequent imperative for ever faster innovation, the emergence of global networks of partners, [] the multiplication of media channels, and burgeoning diversity in both the workplace and marketplace. Steve Denning Radical Management </li><li>And complicated is not complex Analysis works in complicated cases (plic in complicated means "fold"), but the interweavings (plex) of the complex do not yield to reductionist analysis or to a concentration on details. Michael L. Lissack The Interaction of Complexity and Management </li><li>You can try to simplify a system to make it understandable But you cannot linearize the system to make it predictable </li><li>Complicated vs. Complex is itself is reductionism (and a false dichotomy)! Some systems can be seen as both complicated and complex. </li><li>This is all great, but how do we use all these ideas about complexity </li><li>The Scientific Method The traditional approach... 1. Observations 2. Hypotheses 3. Predictions 4. Experiments </li><li>Houston, we have a problem This makes the standard method of accumulating evidence highly problematic, because it is based on the assumption of repetitive events. Evidence is accumulated by observing repetitions in traditional science but rather different notions of evidence need to be developed for the complexity sciences. Ralph Stacey Complexity and Organizational Reality </li><li>Complexity invalidates prediction! The crucial problem which science faces is its ability to cope with complexity. Peter Checkland Systems Thinking, Systems Practice </li><li>Complexity theory predicts that we cannot rely on predictions. </li><li>That doesnt seem very helpful. Is there anything else we can do </li><li>Reductionism Holism Complexity Theory Models Complexity Thinking Example Final words </li><li> Whats this? </li><li>model model noun m-dl a usually miniature representation of something a description or analogy used to help visualize something (as an atom) that cannot be directly observed a system of postulates, data, and inferences presented as a mathematical description of an entity or state of affairs </li><li>We use models for two reasons Confirmatory models: prediction &amp; control Exploratory models: insight &amp; understanding Steve Phelan The Interaction of Complexity and Management </li><li>Well focus on exploratory models Confirmatory models are impossible to make in complexity theory. But we can use exploratory models to aid in sense-making. </li><li>Making sense of improvement </li><li>Making sense of learning Shu Ha Ri Beginner Advanced Beginner Competent Proficient Expert </li><li>Making sense of complexity Ralph Stacey Dave Snowden </li><li>Theres only 1 criterion for models Does the model help people to make sense of the world (insight and understanding)? </li><li>Of course, it requires a balance How detailed (complicated) will you make the model to make it useful? The usefulness of a model depends on the complexity of the mind and of the environment. </li><li>A simple model of London </li><li>A complicated model of London </li><li> A simple model for projects </li><li> A complicated model for projects </li><li>A simple model for managers Jurgen Appelo Management 3.0 </li><li>A complicated model for managers Dan Levinthal The Interaction of Complexity and Management </li><li>Models are never perfect All models wrong, some are useful. George Box Usefulness is context-dependent. It depends on the people and their environment. </li><li> Whats this? </li><li>metaphor metaphor noun me-t-for also -fr a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them </li><li>Metaphors in science Butterfy Effect Edge of Chaos Survival of the Fittest Metaphors are fuzzy but effective models. </li><li>Metaphors in management organizations as machines; organizations as organisms; organizations as brains; organizations as flux and transformation; organizations as cultures; organizations as political systems; organizations as psychic prisons; organizations as instruments of domination; organizations as carnivals. Michael C. Jackson Systems Thinking: Creative Holism for Managers </li><li>Organizations as machines Machine images pervade management jargon. We have managers who run a company, much the way you would run a machine. We have the owners of the company, which is perfectly appropriate terminology for a machine but somewhat problematic when applied to a human community. And of course there are leaders who drive change. Peter M. Senge The Fifth Discipline </li><li>Danger of metaphors Reminiscence syndrome Jumping to conclusions because things look the same Jack Cowan </li><li>Example: inventory as waste The metaphor of inventory applied to knowledge work can be useful, but it fails fast. It leads people to draw conclusions about waste that make no sense (to me). </li><li>Useful question: when do they fail? Metaphors are the weakest of all models. They fail fast. Science likes mathematical models. They fail much later. </li><li>A key point of complexity theory Multiple weak models can make just as much sense as one strong model. (And its certainly better than no models.) In the end all models fail. </li><li>This point makes it clear you also need other peoples views on complexity thinking. A single perspective is not enough! </li><li>Whats this? </li><li>mathematics mathematics noun math-ma-tiks, ma-th- the science of numbers and their operations, interrelations, combinations, generalizations, and abstractions and of space configurations and their structure, measurement, transformations, and generalizations </li><li>Scientific management (Taylorism) The earliest attempt at applying mathematics to management of organizations. Improving efficiency Reducing variation Increasing output </li><li>Whats this? </li><li>simulation simulation noun sim-y-l-shn the imitative representation of the functioning of one system or process by means of the functioning of another examination of a problem often not subject to direct experimentation by means of a simulating device...</li></ul>


View more >