The Lion (Lions & Tigers & Bears)

The Lion is Complexity

Human interactions are not simple. The last person who solved simple problems in simple ways was Aristotle. He was wrong about almost everything.

Newton, Maxwell, and Einstein solved simple problems in insightful ways and they are considered geniuses. How simple were their problems?   The equations had only two or three variables. Einstein’s famous equation E=mc2 is as  simple as an equation can be: two variables, E and m, and one constant, c.

And how many variables does a typical business, government, NGO, or family have to manage?

The answer is humbling; we are trying to produce positive results in the presence of hundreds to thousands of variables. There is no simple equation for success.

The lion stalking us is complexity. We are trying to solve wickedly complex problems.

Complexity is why the majority of startups fail, why government legislation almost always leads to unexpected and horrifying results, why NGOs frequently make the plight of the people they are trying to help worse, and why so many families can barely tolerate eating Thanksgiving dinner together.

It is no surprise that a vast majority of initiatives we undertake as humans fail so miserably so much the time. The problems we are trying to solve are wickedly complex; they are non-linear and contain too many of variables.

Like Aristotle, we moderns seek to simplify complexity using intuition, past experience, and personal judgment. We create simple rules to manage wickedly complex systems. And, like Aristotle, we end up being wrong about almost everything.

TL;DR:  The problems we are trying to solve are wickedly complex. We attempt to manage complexity mostly by overextending our intuition, which is mostly wrong.

(Tom and Kyle)

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