Thoughts & Insights

In the Magic of Complexity

“The aim of my art is definitely not to prune the high complexity of reality down to some underlying elementary order but to preserve the bloom of magic cast by the world in all its complexity and uncontrollability. And to try to encounter this with something that matches this bloom of magic. Because nature itself is an art work.” OUBEY

Our very life on this planet is something we owe to the complexity of a system we call the cosmos. Galaxies and stars are highly dynamic complex structures in constant evolution and change over countless billions of years – from their birth to their death. Our own chemical periodic system and the building blocks of our own life have their origins in the disintegrating complexity of dying stars.

Complexity has surrounded us for as long as we’ve been on this planet. Water, oceans, waves and tsunamis. Wind and clouds, storms, gales, hurricanes. Snow flakes, ice crystals and much much more. Complexity creates life and destroys life too. The furious outbreaks of natural complexity and the primeval forces they unleash never fail to fill us with fear and horror. We try to protect ourselves by learning how to predict them. But there are forms of life that can feel an approaching earthquake with their sensors before our seismographs pick up the warning signs and certainly long before we can with our limited senses.

For the past twenty to thirty years people and organizations have been moving in a field of increasing – and increasingly man-made – complexity and process dynamics. The exponential rise in connectivity and networking in global communications driven by the opportunities offered by the Internet is one compelling example of this. The need to feel secure by controlling and mastering such complexity is greater than ever. Yet complexity cannot be reduced nor can it be mastered.

It is neither good nor bad. Complexity is simple.

We can fear it; we can try to control it. Or we can try to move in it and by so doing familiarize ourselves with it and learn to understand it better. And to a certain extent we can also use the leverage of the interrelated effects of dynamic complexity to propel ourselves forward and develop ourselves – even though the possibility of failure is omnipresent.