Simple responses to complex situations are both seductive and dangerous. The difficulty in juggling lots of variables tempts us to employ abstraction so as to avoid being overwhelmed. Abraham Maslow’s observation, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail”, applies. […]
People like easy answers. Why spend time analyzing and evaluating when you can just take some thing or some technique that someone else has already put to use and be done with it? Why indeed? I mean, “me too” is a valid strategy, right? And we don’t want people to get off message, right? And […]
One of the side effects of illness and injury (in my case a slipped disk) can be that your world becomes smaller. You don’t travel for your work. Your chance of being somewhere new is small. You move more slowly and aren’t up to long trips. It’s not feasible to go to all those special places, where […]
This week’s episode of Tom Cagley’s Software Process and Measurement (SPaMCast) podcast, number 373, features Tom’s essay on #NotImplementedNoValue and a Form Follows Function installment on simplistic mental models. Tom and I discuss my post “All models may be wrong, but it’s not a contest to see how wrong you can be”, talking about cognitive […]
The one thing you can be sure of is that nothing is dependent on only one thing. Michael Feathers‘ tweet last week brought this to mind: Too often we construct simplistic mental models that fail to account for outcomes that are possible, but inconvenient for us in some way. As Aneel noted while discussing OODA […]
In my first blog on this site, ‘For What It’s Worth’, I referred to Ross Button’s Scatter Architecture.
Great theories come in two sorts: the type that is so fundamentally foreign to one’s existing worldview that it’s a major effort to get your head round it (think Special Relativity here); and the type that is so staringly obvious that you can’t believe…
All businesses have a degree of complexity inherent within them that needs to be managed. Business activities that are undertaken and the systems used to support them have multi-facetted interdependencies that may results in, even with a single change, cascading … Continue reading →
I’ve seen quite a few discussions over the last couple of years about whether enterprise architecture (EA) is amenable to disciplined, rigorous methods – sometimes described as a scientific approach. A lot of what I’ve seen strikes me as anything but s…
The Complicated Complexity Confusion Principle
Complexity is an objective quality of the real world. Complexity expresses itself in the wonderful behaviour of systems.
Complicated is a psycho-social phenomenon. It is a missmatch between the complexity of the world and our ability to understand and control it. Complications express themselves as confusion.
Confusing the two is the anti-pattern. It expresses itself in two ways.
- As an attempt to lower complication by reducing complexity. So reducing the functionality of the system.
- As an attempt to reduce complexity by simplifying its human representation. So creating a potentially dangerous ignorance of the system. This version is sometimes called Magical Simplification.
A great conversation this morning with Nigel Green, about his post ‘When is striving for Simplicity in IT-EA a good thing, and when…?‘ (“…is it less important, or even unhelpful?”, was the completion of the sentence). He’d been having a long discussion with another well-known figure in the IT-architecture space, who’d insisted that we should […]