Complexity and Belief

This is a #WorkingOutLoud post exploring complexity, and the role of belief: it relates to several broader strands of work that explore the social structure of Organisations, and the mechanisms of change.

At heart, Organisations are made up of components, which may be multitudinous, but are ultimately quantifiable: people, assets, systems. Complexity probably falls in the nature of interaction between those components, as well as the nature of behaviour of the component itself e.g. a chair always behaves in predictable ways, and i do not. Worse, the way that i am unpredictable is itself unpredictable: i may have a good day, or a bad one.

But as well as interacting on each other, some components project belief onto each other: individually we project belief onto other people (we trust them, dislike them, think they stand against us etc), and collectively (as e.g. a sales team) we project belief onto other intact units e.g. the legal team. We even project it onto geographies (‘head office’, the ‘nerds in IT’ etc), and abstract groupings of individuals (the ‘old boys club’, the ‘millennials’ etc). So complexity lies at the relationship of individual components, and also between aggregated (but aggregated in multiple layers) sets of components. With some of these relationships being predictable (my chair) and others being either unpredictable, or irrational, or rational by an alternative frame that i do not understand. Or a combination of all those things.

Belief is potentially a central component of complexity in that case, impacting it in a number of ways: firstly, belief may add to or amplify that unpredictable individual and group behaviour, secondly it may delude us that we understand complexity by imposing structures that ‘seem’ real, but are actually artefacts of our belief. Things we wish to be true and convince ourselves of.

Complexity is interesting, being a broadly used term that is, nonetheless, subjective, like trust, love, or meaning. And of course there is a difference between complexity, and things that we just don’t understand yet.

About julianstodd

Author and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the Social Age. I’ve written ten books, and over 2,000 articles, and still learning...
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