As a focus word for me in 2013 complexity spans three different areas of meaning.
The first is to promote thinking about Complex Adaptive Systems as an important skill for the practice of risk and BC management. Our modern organisations and supply chains are evolving through countless interaction between systems and their operators. Out of this interaction may emerge new properties of these systems, one that we seek to encourage the emergence of is resilience.
In this context we need to appreciate complexity to achieve “Situational Awareness” and to take contextually appropriate action. It will not always be relevant to apply systems theory and Best Practice models.
“I have heard it said … that a jumbo jet is complicated, but that a mayonaise is complex.” – Paul Cilliers, Complexity and Postmodernism
The second area is the often confused meaning of complex and complicated. It serves firstly to remind me that we need to explain the complicated but not to a level that is overly simplistic. And secondly that our approach will be different when we understand what is complex compared to what is merely complicated.
The final set of meanings are to address deals the concept of interdependence, again a feature of contemporary supply chains and business processes. To explore some of the tenets of “Normal Accident Theory”, “High Reliability Organisation” and what these schools contribute to establishing and maintaining resilient operations.
In particular, to highlight the interdependence of technology with all our biz processes – no longer appropriate to think about IT DR and Cyber Security outside of BC and resilience. More so in the world of ‘cloud’ or ‘utility computing’ where our information and systems are exposed in the same ways as our physical supply chains.
Complexity is not well understood, but perhaps that is the way it is meant to be! – Discuss.