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I’m totally starry-eyed about the concept of complexity. What it is, what it means. 

The weather is complex, starling murmurations are complex, traffic is complex. You know if you have a complex system because it’s a large, dynamic system that is driven by simple, local rules. 

The mysterious beauty of complexity is that the local rules are easy to understand but the systemic behaviour is hard to predict. 

Consider the word complicated in comparison. Complicated systems are like car engines – where many simple parts are combined but it’s ultimately fully knowable. In contrast, complex systems can only be understood at a local level, and their past behaviours understood. Cause and effect cannot be determined ahead of time. 

Is there any use in knowing about complexity? Given that it doesn’t help us to predict future outcomes? Yes. When you recognise that you are operating in a complex domain you stop trying to make predictions, you use safe-to-fail experiments, build in agility, time for reflection and adaptation.  

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