Complexity Science, Complexity Theory


OECD (2017)

Systems Approaches to Public Sector Challenges: Working with Change

Complexity is a core feature of most policy issues today and in this context traditional analytical tools and problem-solving methods no longer work. This report, produced by the OECD Observatory of Public Sector Innovation, explores how systems approaches can be used in the public sector to solve complex or “wicked” problems . Consisting of three parts, the report discusses the need for systems thinking in the public sector.

W. Ross Ashby (1958)

Requisite variety and its implications for the control of complex systems

Recent work on the fundamental processes of regulation in biology (Ashby, 1956) has shown the importance of a certain quantitative relation called the law of requisite variety. After this relation had been found, we appreciated that it was related to a theorem in a world far removed from the biological—that of Shannon on the quantity of noise or error that could be removed through a correction-channel (Shannon and Weaver, 1949; theorem 10). In this paper I propose to show the relationship between the two theorems, and to indicate something of their implications for regulation, in the cybernetic sense, when the system to be regulated is extremely complex. Since the law of requisite variety uses concepts more primitive than those used by entropy, I will start by giving an account of that law.


From induction to abduction, a new approach to research and productive inquiry

Videos from seminar with Dave Snowden, Founder & Chief Scientific Officer Cognitive Edge Pte Ltd. Tuesday February 9th 2010


Complexity, chaos and enterprise-architecture

Tom Graves: Courtesy of a link by fellow enterprise-architect Sally Bean, I've just spent the past couple of hours viewing and then reviewing an online seminar on complexity by one of the thought-leaders on complexity-theory and practice, Dave Snowden.

Jamshid Gharajedaghi (2005)

Systems Thinking: Managing Chaos and Complexity: A Platform for Designing Business Architecture

The first edition of Systems Thinking was the first book to develop a working concept of systems theory and to deal operationally with systems methodology. The author has been working for the last 5 years to incorporate parallel development in quantum theory, self-organizing systems and complexity theory, the sum of which is included in this new 2nd edition. He has tested these concepts with 200 executive MBA students, and also with Russell Ackoff, one of the founding fathers of systems thinking. Ackoff reported that it was the most comprehensive systems methodology he has seen. The 2nd edition features the synthesis of holistic thinking (iteration of structure, function and process), operational thinking (understanding chaos and complexity), sociocultural systems (movement toward a predefined order), and interactive design (redesigning the future and inventing ways to bring it about). Also added are the operational thinking and self-organizing aspect of sociocultural systems, with updates made to the holistic thinking and interactive design parts to incorporate recent new developments.

Roger Sessions (2008)

Simple Architectures for Complex Enterprises

Dismantle the overwhelming complexity in your IT projects with strategies and real-world examples from a leading expert on enterprise architecture. This guide describes best practices for creating an efficient IT organization that consistently delivers on time, on budget, and in line with business needs. IT systems have become too complex - and too expensive. Complexity can create delays, cost overruns, and outcomes that do not meet business requirements. The resulting losses can impact your entire company. This guide demonstrates that, contrary to popular belief, complex problems demand simple solutions. The author believes that 50 percent of the complexity of a typical IT project can and should be eliminated - and he shows you how to do it. You’ll learn a model for understanding complexity, the three tenets of complexity control, and how to apply specific techniques such as checking architectures for validity. Find out how the author’s methodology could have saved a real-world IT project that went off track, and ways to implement his solutions in a variety of situations.