The limits of complexity

In our daily lives, we are engulfed with complexity. It is all around us: just think about business transactions, global trade, health care systems, jet engines, the energy grid, the tax code, computers, … Many would even add the remote control of their stereo or the radio in their car to that list.  Yet despite that almost permanent […]

How efficiency can kill you – in simple charts

In the previous post I’ve investigate the antagonistic relation between efficiency on one side and resilience on the other. As that is a pretty abstract subject, I tried to draw up a few simple charts to underpin the story of how efficiency, when taken to extremes, depletes resilience and ultimately promotes system failure. First, let’s think of a simple task, the […]

Efficiency will kill you slowly

Our western societies are obsessed with efficiency. Just think about topics like lean production, just-in-time logistics, energy consumption, time management: we are always trying to make things cheaper, to use less resources, to pack more action in less time, you name it. While these considerations are usually driven by good intent, I’d argue that they can pave the path to desaster […]

Different scales, different purposes, all intertwined

Complex adaptive systems exists at different scales, both spatial and temporal. As Lance Gunderson and Crawford Holling described it, those different scales form of structure of nested adaptive cycles. To make this idea a bit more tangible, let’s take weather and climate: we are all exposed to the very local patterns every minute we are outdoors; we take into […]

Telling the story

We all know that a picture says more than a thousand words. The problem with that truism only is that it takes most of us far more time to create that picture than it takes us to generate those thousand words. We are a wordy culture, and the more complex our ideas become, the more we tend […]