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Rob Ricigliano on the murky unpredictability of complex systems

A complex social system… really is made up of a set of complex and interconnected forces that both affect each other and the things that you care about… There are components of this complex system, but what really you’re after is what are the complex ways they interrelate? So unlike a car engine, oftentimes the dynamics and the individual factors whether people, or policies, or attitudes that help produce a complex outcome like homelessness behave with regard to each other in sort of unpredictable and murky kinds of ways.

A system has a series of discrete components, but very diverse, that interact in complex ways and that are interdependent on each other in ways that are changing over time – they’re dynamic, so that what we might be able to predict at one point will be different at another point.

One of the hard parts is when people think that using a systems approach is just going to be a faster way to get to some magic solution… It won’t take difficult problems and make them magically simple problems. There’s nothing that will really do that. What it will do is if you’re grappling with a really difficult, intractable problem in a really difficult, complex environment, it will give you a chance – a better chance – of actually doing something productive toward that goal and in that environment.

Rob RiciglianoSystems Practice (Acumen Academy Course)

See also:

Systems: complicated and complex – Aaron Dignan
Systems thinking: Peter Senge on the limits of learning from experience
Resource: Seth Godin on Systems Thinking
Systems thinking: Gall’s Law
Building systems, questioning statistics, finding things out, decline and fall
Maximising components vs maximising systems
Seth Godin on slack in systems
More from Seth Godin on slack in systems and resilience
Machine. Ecosystem. (5) – Duncan Green on systems thinking and development
Machine. Ecosystem. (4) – Marc Andreessen on Systems Thinking

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