Complicated Systems Vs. Complex Systems

Complex organisations have always existed, but we have to admit that the level of complexity has tremendously increased over the past centuries, especially over the past decades. Complexity now touches everyone, and every organisation. This is something unavoidable, and that is the reason why companies have to learn how to manage it, how to live
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Complex Systems organisations have always existed, but we have to admit that the level of complexity has tremendously increased over the past centuries, especially over the past decades.

Complexity now touches everyone, and every organisation. This is something unavoidable, and that is the reason why companies have to learn how to manage it, how to live with it.

The most important difficulty met because of complexity is prediction. In effect, today’s systems are so complex that it becomes very difficult to make predictions about what will happen in the future, even though in a close future.

Interactions between the parts that constitute the systems are innumerable and this is what makes them complex. To be able to manage complexity, the most important thing is to understand that it is not the same as complicated systems. If you want to be a leader, you should be aware of the difference between complicated and complex.

You cannot pretend to be a leader without understanding these concepts because they can actually define your business outcomes.

In effect, managers often confound complicated and concept whereas they are two very different concepts, and the biggest mistakes come from this confusion.

Complicated systems are easier to manage than complex ones. Indeed, complicated systems also contain many parts, as well as complex systems.

However, in a complicated system, they usually follow a pattern, which make it much easier to make predictions and to manage the system.

On the other hand, in complex systems, interactions do not follow any pattern and that is the reason why predictions about the future are impossible.

WHAT MADE COMPLEX SYSTEMS MORE AND MORE COMPLEX?

Nowadays, systems are built by many systems. Thus, systems are complex because in one great system, there are actually many parts that are systems themselves! At first, small parts were connected, which made the systems; but then, systems have also been interconnected, which made bigger systems, and so on. This was because of the Information Technology revolution. However, it is possible to use these IT systems to manage this very complexity. Thus, everything is interconnected. Business networks have become great and that is what made them complex. Vivek’s book, The 5-STAR Business Network (http://bit.ly/5-STARBN), explains the functioning of great business networks, and its complexity.

the 5star business network

WHAT IS COMPLEXITY THEN?

As we said, complicated systems follow patterns and accurate predictions are possible to make. Complexity is a little more complex, if I may say so. One of its characteristics is multiplicity: the number of interactions is difficult to determine, especially because it can be infinite.

In effect, there are so many systems that are somehow interconnected that it became impossible to be aware about all the interactions.

We are not even able to determine the number of systems that are interacting together, so how could it be possible to make predictions about them?

The second property of complexity is interdependence. Many parts are connected and they form a system. Then, these systems are also connected.

Consequently, every part of every system depends on many other parts and systems that can affect them in many different ways. Besides, if one connection affects many parts, the consequences are also multiplied, affecting again many interconnections.

Thus, the multiplication of connections involves the multiplication of consequences, which might explain the inability to predict any of these consequences. A third main property of the concept of complexity is diversity.

So many systems are related that they cannot be alike. The result is obviously heterogeneity. Therefore, these properties of complex systems imply many difficulties, including inexplicable situations sometimes.

In fact, the consequences can either be positive or negative for your business because of unexpected interactions and interactions between systems that are already complex themselves.

When all the results of all the interconnected systems and parts are put together (because results are also interconnected), the final situation can seem crazy.

You may think bad results can come from nowhere, but this is actually not true because every decision you make is important.

In fact, one decision-making has not one unique consequence on your own business, but it has many consequences (whether they are positive or negative, whether they are big or small), on many systems, organisations, or businesses.

Although you cannot explain all the consequences of these decisions you made, you have to learn how to manage complexity, to limit the uncertainty, by making the right decisions.

Sometimes, you might not see the consequences of your decisions, but they can be very important and determining, even if hidden and inexplicable.

To summarise, the difference between complicated and complex systems is crucial because the consequences are not the same. Predictions are accurate in complicated systems whereas they are not in complex systems.

Although you cannot understand or explain everything in complex systems, you have to manage it the best way you can, in order to avoid great mistakes that could be fatal for your business.

What can be interesting, to conclude and summarise the concept of complexity, is author Jeffrey O’Brien’s writings.

He thinks, “‘Complex’ is a synonym for ‘unpredictable’ – or at least not easily predictable”. According to him, “interactions are not linear, but emergent”, and he also says, “computers can help, but they must be augmented with perception, reasoning, cognition, and intuition”.

For more information check out our website https://globalscgroup.com/

organisations have always existed, but we have to admit that the level of complexity has tremendously increased over the past centuries, especially over the past decades.

Complexity now touches everyone, and every organisation. This is something unavoidable, and that is the reason why companies have to learn how to manage it, how to live with it.

The most important difficulty met because of complexity is prediction. In effect, today’s systems are so complex that it becomes very difficult to make predictions about what will happen in the future, even though in a close future.

Interactions between the parts that constitute the systems are innumerable and this is what makes them complex. To be able to manage complexity, the most important thing is to understand that it is not the same as complicated systems. If you want to be a leader, you should be aware of the difference between complicated and complex.

You cannot pretend to be a leader without understanding these concepts because they can actually define your business outcomes.

In effect, managers often confound complicated and concept whereas they are two very different concepts, and the biggest mistakes come from this confusion.

Complicated systems are easier to manage than complex ones. Indeed, complicated systems also contain many parts, as well as complex systems.

However, in a complicated system, they usually follow a pattern, which make it much easier to make predictions and to manage the system.

On the other hand, in complex systems, interactions do not follow any pattern and that is the reason why predictions about the future are impossible.

WHAT MADE SYSTEMS MORE AND MORE COMPLEX?

Nowadays, systems are built by many systems. Thus, systems are complex because in one great system, there are actually many parts that are systems themselves! At first, small parts were connected, which made the systems; but then, systems have also been interconnected, which made bigger systems, and so on. This was because of the Information Technology revolution. However, it is possible to use these IT systems to manage this very complexity. Thus, everything is interconnected. Business networks have become great and that is what made them complex. Vivek’s book, The 5-STAR Business Network (http://bit.ly/5-STARBN), explains the functioning of great business networks, and its complexity.

the 5star business network

WHAT IS COMPLEXITY THEN?

As we said, complicated systems follow patterns and accurate predictions are possible to make. Complexity is a little more complex, if I may say so. One of its characteristics is multiplicity: the number of interactions is difficult to determine, especially because it can be infinite.

In effect, there are so many systems that are somehow interconnected that it became impossible to be aware about all the interactions.

We are not even able to determine the number of systems that are interacting together, so how could it be possible to make predictions about them?

The second property of complexity is interdependence. Many parts are connected and they form a system. Then, these systems are also connected.

Consequently, every part of every system depends on many other parts and systems that can affect them in many different ways. Besides, if one connection affects many parts, the consequences are also multiplied, affecting again many interconnections.

Thus, the multiplication of connections involves the multiplication of consequences, which might explain the inability to predict any of these consequences. A third main property of the concept of complexity is diversity.

So many systems are related that they cannot be alike. The result is obviously heterogeneity. Therefore, these properties of complex systems imply many difficulties, including inexplicable situations sometimes.

In fact, the consequences can either be positive or negative for your business because of unexpected interactions and interactions between systems that are already complex themselves.

When all the results of all the interconnected systems and parts are put together (because results are also interconnected), the final situation can seem crazy.

You may think bad results can come from nowhere, but this is actually not true because every decision you make is important.

In fact, one decision-making has not one unique consequence on your own business, but it has many consequences (whether they are positive or negative, whether they are big or small), on many systems, organisations, or businesses.

Although you cannot explain all the consequences of these decisions you made, you have to learn how to manage complexity, to limit the uncertainty, by making the right decisions.

Sometimes, you might not see the consequences of your decisions, but they can be very important and determining, even if hidden and inexplicable.

To summarise, the difference between complicated and complex systems is crucial because the consequences are not the same. Predictions are accurate in complicated systems whereas they are not in complex systems.

Although you cannot understand or explain everything in complex systems, you have to manage it the best way you can, in order to avoid great mistakes that could be fatal for your business.

What can be interesting, to conclude and summarise the concept of complexity, is author Jeffrey O’Brien’s writings.

He thinks, “‘Complex’ is a synonym for ‘unpredictable’ – or at least not easily predictable”. According to him, “interactions are not linear, but emergent”, and he also says, “computers can help, but they must be augmented with perception, reasoning, cognition, and intuition”.

For more information check out our website https://globalscgroup.com/

organisations have always existed, but we have to admit that the level of complexity has tremendously increased over the past centuries, especially over the past decades.

Complexity now touches everyone, and every organisation. This is something unavoidable, and that is the reason why companies have to learn how to manage it, how to live with it.

The most important difficulty met because of complexity is prediction. In effect, today’s systems are so complex that it becomes very difficult to make predictions about what will happen in the future, even though in a close future.

Interactions between the parts that constitute the systems are innumerable and this is what makes them complex. To be able to manage complexity, the most important thing is to understand that it is not the same as complicated systems. If you want to be a leader, you should be aware of the difference between complicated and complex.

You cannot pretend to be a leader without understanding these concepts because they can actually define your business outcomes.

In effect, managers often confound complicated and concept whereas they are two very different concepts, and the biggest mistakes come from this confusion.

Complicated systems are easier to manage than complex ones. Indeed, complicated systems also contain many parts, as well as complex systems.

However, in a complicated system, they usually follow a pattern, which make it much easier to make predictions and to manage the system.

On the other hand, in complex systems, interactions do not follow any pattern and that is the reason why predictions about the future are impossible.

WHAT MADE SYSTEMS MORE AND MORE COMPLEX?

Nowadays, systems are built by many systems. Thus, systems are complex because in one great system, there are actually many parts that are systems themselves! At first, small parts were connected, which made the systems; but then, method have also been interconnected, which made bigger systems, and so on. This was because of the Information Technology revolution. However, it is possible to use these IT method to manage this very complexity. Thus, everything is interconnected. Business networks have become great and that is what made them complex. Vivek’s book, The 5-STAR Business Network (http://bit.ly/5-STARBN), explains the functioning of great business networks, and its complexity.

the 5star business network

WHAT IS COMPLEXITY THEN?

As we said, complicated method follow patterns and accurate predictions are possible to make. Complexity is a little more complex, if I may say so. One of its characteristics is multiplicity: the number of interactions is difficult to determine, especially because it can be infinite.

In effect, there are so many method that are somehow interconnected that it became impossible to be aware about all the interactions.

We are not even able to determine the number of method that are interacting together, so how could it be possible to make predictions about them?

The second property of complexity is interdependence. Many parts are connected and they form a system. Then, these method are also connected.

Consequently, every part of every system depends on many other parts and method that can affect them in many different ways. Besides, if one connection affects many parts, the consequences are also multiplied, affecting again many interconnections.

Thus, the multiplication of connections involves the multiplication of consequences, which might explain the inability to predict any of these consequences. A third main property of the concept of complexity is diversity.

So many method are related that they cannot be alike. The result is obviously heterogeneity. Therefore, these properties of complex systems imply many difficulties, including inexplicable situations sometimes.

In fact, the consequences can either be positive or negative for your business because of unexpected interactions and interactions between method that are already complex themselves.

When all the results of all the interconnected method and parts are put together (because results are also interconnected), the final situation can seem crazy.

You may think bad results can come from nowhere, but this is actually not true because every decision you make is important.

In fact, one decision-making has not one unique consequence on your own business, but it has many consequences (whether they are positive or negative, whether they are big or small), on many method, organisations, or businesses.

Although you cannot explain all the consequences of these decisions you made, you have to learn how to manage complexity, to limit the uncertainty, by making the right decisions.

Sometimes, you might not see the consequences of your decisions, but they can be very important and determining, even if hidden and inexplicable.

To summarise, the difference between complicated and complex method is crucial because the consequences are not the same. Predictions are accurate in complicated method whereas they are not in complex method.

Although you cannot understand or explain everything in complex method, you have to manage it the best way you can, in order to avoid great mistakes that could be fatal for your business.

What can be interesting, to conclude and summarise the concept of complexity, is author Jeffrey O’Brien’s writings.

He thinks, “‘Complex’ is a synonym for ‘unpredictable’ – or at least not easily predictable”. According to him, “interactions are not linear, but emergent”, and he also says, “computers can help, but they must be augmented with perception, reasoning, cognition, and intuition”.

For more information check out our website https://globalscgroup.com/

Complicated Systems, Complex Systems

Vivek Sood: Sydney based managing director of Global Supply Chain Group, a strategy consultancy specializing in supply chains. More information on Vivek is available on www.linkedin.com/in/vivek and more information on Global Supply Chain Group is available www.globalscgroup.com 

Vivek is the Managing Director of Global Supply Chain Group, a boutique strategy consulting firm specialising in Supply Chain Strategies, and headquartered in Sydney, Australia . He has over 24 years of experience in strategic transformations and operational excellence within global supply chains. Prior to co-founding Global Supply Chain Group in January 2000, Vivek was a management consultant with top-tier strategy consulting firm Booz Allen & Hamilton.

Vivek provides strategic operations and supply chain advice to boards and senior management of global corporations, private equity groups and other stakeholders in a range of industries including FMCG, food, shipping, logistics, manufacturing, chemicals, mining, agribusiness, construction materials, explosives, airlines and electricity utilities.

Vivek has served world-wide corporations in nearly 500 small and large projects on all continents with a variety of clients in many different industries. Most of projects have involved diagnostic, conceptualisation and transformation of supply chains – releasing significant amount of value for the business. His project work in supply chain management has added cumulative value in excess of $500M incorporating projects in major supply chain infrastructure investment decisions, profitable growth driven by global supply chain realignment, supply chain systems, negotiations and all other aspects of global supply chains.

Vivek has written a number of path breaking articles and commentaries that are published in several respected journals and magazines. Vivek has spoken at several supply chain conference, forums and workshops in various parts of the world. He has also conducted several strategic workshops on various aspects of supply chain management. He received his MBA with Distinction from the Australian Graduate School of Management in 1996 and prior to these studies spent 11 years in the Merchant Navy, rising from a Cadet to Master Mariner.

More information on Vivek is available on www.linkedin.com/in/vivek  and more information on Global Supply Chain Group is available on www.globalscgroup.com

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