Why Is It Difficult To Understand Complex Problems?

A good friend and a long term client of mine asked me the following questions:

1) Why difficult, repetitive or nagging problems cannot be understood or solved by conventional/traditional problem solving methods & approaches?

2) Why innovation and new methodologies are required to solve or engage with chronic or nagging problems?

3) Why many fail to analyze incipient faults in most cases?

To which, I replied :-


Chronic or nagging or repetitive problems are actually called complex problems.

These types of problems fall under a new science called Complexity Science. More specifically, they fall under the domain of Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS), or as we lovingly call it – Complex Creative Systems.

Such class of complex problems differ from regular problems in the following ways:

1. The system has many diverse elements.

2. The elements are interdependent on each other for functioning of the system.

3. The elements dynamically interact with each other to produce new states.

4. The dynamics is non-linear in nature.

5. Under constraints and environmental stimuli, such systems continually try to adapt/create new states but creation  of a new state depends on rate of change of entropy and its exchange.

It is not possible to solve problems of complex systems by regular or traditional problem solving methods since:

1. Traditional methods overlook the five factors of complexity as mentioned above.

2.  Traditional methods try to single out one cause for a problem. That is, for every specific symptom they try to find a specific cause or element responsible for the symptom. It means that traditional methods treat each element separately and try to establish a relationship between an element to the symptom. This is hardly consistent with the dynamic behavior of complex systems where many elements or causes come together to produce specific symptoms.

3. Traditional problem solving approaches are based on linearity. Hence complex non-linear problems cannot be addressed by such linear methods.

4. Traditional problem solving depends on established patterns only. Problems are solved using pattern recognition. So traditional problem solving depends on having a grasp of well established patterns presented in  form of comprehensible knowledge, which is available in public domain. However, complex systems and their problems have both patterns and “no patterns.” “No pattern” means existence of new patterns that have not been seen earlier. Therefore, to solve complex problems requires creation of new knowledge to address the emergence of “no pattern.” Creating new knowledge is a difficult task. And the process of creating new knowledge, under constraints of time and resources, is not available. There is a gap. Hence most find it difficult to tackle complex problems and issues.

Keeping this in mind, our Institute, NIASK, has come up with a process or common code called Nemetics that might be applied to any complex domain. The code may be described as follows:

1. Notice the dynamic changes in a system

2. Engage with the flow

3. Mull (think and imagine) the interactions that produce the changes. 

4. Exchange creative actions that allow the system to function more smoothly of freely with the minimum wastage of energy.

Nemetics combines the principles of dialectics, non-linear dynamics, thermodynamics, chaos theory, systems theories and personal development to come up with its unique approach and knowledge to understand and take on complex problems and issues.

Hope this answers your questions.


One thought on “Why Is It Difficult To Understand Complex Problems?

  1. Pingback: mastering complexity

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