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You should’t attempt to conquer complexity

November 16, 2009

Screen shot 2009-11-16 at 22.34.16.png Let me start off my making it clear that I have an affection for Delphi Group and for its leader Tom Koulopoulos who is more human than his PR machine would have you believe. If it hadn't been for Delphi many years I would have not met and spent time with Peter Drucker and I would probably have lost my job. They also had one of the best early KM events held in the Del at San Diego every year until they made the mistake of shifting away from KM far too early in the life cycle.

However this slogan triggered a reaction when it hit my email earlier today. Its the same thing as people saying that they conquered Everest, its the wrong idea completely. The text that foes with it saus tat we have managed complexity badly by throwing more technology at problems making navigation through the maze of applications, information and procedures even more complex. OK partial tick in the box for that, but then it goes on to say that a new category of solutions is coming to market that may finally offer a way to deal with all of this complexity.

Now this rather reminds me (and the pantomime season is coming on) of Aladdin, always seduced by the promise of new lamps over old. However the real issue is the word conquer. You navigate complexity you don't conquerer it. True complexity evolves and human cognitive capacity evolves with it. New technologies introduced progressively can be accommodated, humans co-evolve with their tools. What your can't (or rather shouldn't ) do create an ideal solution based on how people should behave, or assume that technology can sort out the mess. In practice humans are very good in messy situations, we create coherence by engagement.

I hope Tom is not offering a panacea, but even if not please, oh please change the language.

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