Simplicity versus complexity is one of the great paradoxes of modern life. Many of us are confronted with greater and greater levels of complexity as our horizons and access to knowledge expand. We are faced with questions of how we can embrace challenges without being simplistic. As we strive for more and better options, we produce proliferation and incrementalism instead of focus and wholeness. We capture more “benefits” but we don’t adequately account for the hidden costs that go undetected and unmanaged.
As we discussed in our last post about the Problems with the Rational Model , a reductionist approach will inevitably lead to more complexity, not simplicity. In many cases, complexity will lead to a loss of reliability or robustness. True systems thinking will seek to reverse this complexity by focusing an integrated whole and an umabiguous understanding of needs (priorities) and functions (outcomes). With adequate focus in these areas, we can gain much robustness in our approach to life and work. Robustness is a measure being strong and healthy in condition. When it is viewed in a system context, it refers to the ability of tolerating perturbations that might affect the system’s functional integrity.
So we need to find a way to reign in complexity, while focusing on what really matters. Unity in purpose has to carry more value than more and/or better. We need to shift our thinking to connecting to what really matters and managing the real “costs” of too much.