Simple systems – Complex systems

May 3, 2010 at 9:29 am | Posted in Out of my mind, Systems Thinking | Leave a comment

Systems work in different dimensions. Some of these dimensions we can comprehend; others we cannot. There are simple cause & effect relationships in an original dimension which may manifest themselves as complex web of relationships in other dimensions. We may or may not have visibility of the original dimension. If we had, we feel it is a simple system. When we don’t, we only see the complex relationships in dimensions visible to us and call it a complex system.

Human mind is always exploring new terrains. The collective consciousness keeps pushing at the frontiers of the unknown. Sometimes it may take decades, centuries or even millennia but the progress of knowledge creation in different parts of collective consciousness continues unabated. It generally starts in a few pockets independently. As these pockets get connected to each other, they start sharing amongst each other and later with a wider audience. After some time, it gains momentum and becomes part of the collective consciousness. Sometimes, if the emerging knowledge is kept secret amongst a few members only, it may die and would be lost to the humanity forever.

What is the significance of all this to us as individuals and as members of the organizations?

As individuals it is good to be aware that as of now we are not aware of certain dimensions of knowledge. Whatever we experience or observe is not necessarily false just because we have no scientific proof. We should accept & be open to such ambiguity. At the same time, the knowledge may be available somewhere else of which we not aware. If we can get to it, we will have a better understanding. If another person shares his experience for which there may be no apparent explanation, we can always tentatively accept it and then explore to find a possible reason.

If we come up with new knowledge or understanding lets share it with others. We should not be too possessive. If we block this flow, it may be forever lost with us.

If we can’t see simple cause-effect relationships, we can try to use tools like root cause analysis. But if it does not lead to clear and simple relationships, we need not find contrived solutions. We may not be able to comprehend the original dimension and hence feel that problem is too complex. In such cases, we can use a powerful tool like positive visualization. It works at the sub-conscious levels and without our realizing it or being aware of it we end up getting the desired results. It especially works well when a group of persons get collectively involved in visualizing the same position outcome.

As individuals we may be limited by existing knowledge. Organizations have the resources to create new knowledge and understanding. Secrecy may in some cases be necessary for the competitive advantage. But just being possessive should be avoided.

Lastly, it is good to know that whatever appears to be complex is primarily because of our ignorance. If we can find the missing pieces of the puzzle, the solutions generally are quite simple.

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