If you open Google Image Search and type ‘complexity’, this is the first row of results:
Perhaps this is half the battle for those of us working on complex challenges – our society is so conditioned to the idea of complexity being pieces of a puzzle which fit together neatly, or a maze through which we need to find our way, or worse still – the ‘mechanical’ world view which became so pervasive with the rise of the industrial revolution and cybernetics.
Complexity is about dynamic elements which are interconnected, and affect one another. Thus creating emergence.
Complexity is different from ‘complicated’, whatever the internet says…
As we know from recent advancements in understanding of complexity, there is a significant difference between complicated challenges, and complex ones. Perhaps one of the most cited references is to the Cynefin Framework presented by Dave Snowden:
Which brings us to the interconnection of the oft-unseen elements. Recently I was listening to an excellent podcast by Sarb Johal, a friend and incredible researcher on psychology and disasters (among 101 other things).
One of the latest episodes is about some emerging research around the mental health impacts of climate change, and it’s well worth a listen. I think it perfectly represents the often unseen interconnections of problems, which leads them to become complex.
See the full show notes on the website here.