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Understanding Complexity; Thought and Behavior

Phase One: Discovery/Description

Excerpted by Thomas Mandel IISII

J.N. Warfield

Understanding Complexity; Thought and Behavior

(2002) Palm Harbor, FL: Ajar Publishing Company. copyright 2001 J.N. Warfield To Order the book:


Chapter 1. Four Areas of Complexity Infrastructure of the Science Structure-Based Science of Complexity Applications of the science Site of the Applications

Chapter 2. The Infrastructure of Science Thought Leaders Language Reasoning through Relationships Empirical Data and Archival Information Sources

Chapter 3. The Structure-Based Science; Part 1. Behavioral Pathologies, Individual, Groups, Organizations Chronologies Definitions Human Attributes

Chapter 4. The Structure-Based Science Part 2: Laws, Structures, and Metrics Empirical Evidence

Chapter 5. The Work Program Of Complexity Problematique

Discovery Description Diagnosis Resolution Design Implementation

Chapter 6. The Organization: The Site of Applications Organization (Budgeted Staff) Local Infrastructure Situation Room Observatorium

Appendix A. Twenty laws of Complexity

Appendix B. Glossary of Complexity

Appendix D. The mathematics of Structure: Associations and Operations The “Normal” or “Ordinary” Domain The Domain of Complexity

Appendix D. Discovery and Complexity: A Small Anthology of Problematiques with Interpretations.

Appendix E Demands of Complexity Meet the Killer Assumptions




Appendix A. Twenty laws of Complexity The Law of Tradic Compatibility The Law of Requisite Parsimony The Law of Structural Underconceptualization The Law of organizational Linguistics The Law of Vertical Incoherence in Organizations The Law of Validation The Law of Diverse Beliefs The Law of gradation The Law of Universal Priors The Law of Inherent Conflict The Law of Limits The Law of Requisite Saliency The Law of Success and Failure The Law of Uncorrelated Extremes The Law of Induced Groupthink The Law of Requisite Variety The Law of Forced Substitution The Law of Precluded Resolution The Law of Triadic Necessity and Sufficiency The Law of Small Displays

Appendix B. Glossory in Work

“Complexity is that sensation experienced in the human mind when, in observing or considering a system, frustration arises from lack of comprehension of what is being explored. While this definition may be thought surprising, one of its notable attributes is that it allows for the possibility that complexity may be reduced or even eliminated, at least for some human beings, by a process called “learning”. ” p20.

The Curriculum of Compexity

If the study of complexity mistakenly begins by simply assuming a received language. And if it ignores more than two millennia of thought about thinking, then it will be unlikely to reflect the high quality that is demanded when working with complexity. The subject is inherently difficult, and it does not require compounding the difficulty by ignoring the linguistic perils and possibilities; nor does it benefit from following the current fashions, while ignoring the magnificent history that is available.

Discovery reflects the idea that no one understands the complexity. A period of time devoted to Discovery is required for two reasons: First, to describe the situation and second, to diagnose the situation. While the Description and the Diagnosis are two tangible products of the Discovery component, the processes of arriving at these products are designed to resolve any of the issues related to the behavior pathologies; and also to assist in developing an appropriate object language with which to analysis, describe, and (re)design whatever situation is under observation or consideration. Pg67

Description: best done by groups (8 to 15) because each member has distinctive knowledge that can be affregated with the help of Interactive Management.

Products of Description: A type 1 Problematique, a problems field, an attributes field, and a Type 2 (categories) problematique., the latter being computable from the information contained in the Type 1 problematique, provided a problems field is available to show problems in categories.

Diagnosis best done by an individual who is experienced in using the dibasic aids developed for interpreting the structures produced in Interactive Management Workshops, especially in interpreting the Problematique; provided the individual then shares the diagnosis in an interpretive Session with the group that produced the results, both to check out the interpretation, and to make any needed amendments.

Products of Diagnosis: An analysis and classification of problems from the Type 1 Problematique, based on its structural features; computation of indexes on complexity for comparison with earlier studies, and a comparison of the categories problematique with organizational components to assess who might be doing what in the organization to help resolve the complexity

Resolution can be started, once the Discovery work has produced sufficient understanding to make possible the Design (or redesign) that is required in order to resolve the complexity associated with the problematic situation. Resolution incorporates recognition of the need for resources for the purpose of implementing the design, and that such resources normally are found only in organizations, because of the size and scope of complexity.

Design: best done by groups (8 to 15) because each member has distinctive knowledge that can be aggregated, with the help of Interactive Management.

Products of Design: An options field with one category for each category in the problems fields, at least two independently-developed options profiles by subgroups, a final options profile selection done in plenary session; and a DELTA Chart showing (a) what tasks will be performed in order to implement the design and 9b) who wil perform those tasks.

The Options Field shows the wide variety of possible options and the categories in which those options lie (these being the same categories as found earlier in the Problems Field)

Implementation: best done by the organization (whatever components that are required) following the Interpretation Session with the group that produced the results, both to check out the interpretation, and to make any needed amendments.

Infrastructure: It is particularly vital, in most applications, that the host organization create an infrastructure that is appropriate as a learning means for person in the organization who were not present during the IM work, but who need to understand what was done by the participants in order to make their own contributions to implementation,

Problematique: A graphical portrayal, constructed to rigorous specifications, of a particular aspect of complexity which arises in a problematic situation.

All products of the Work Program of Complexity are constructed as described in the Handbook of Interactive Management (Warfield and Cardenas, 1994).

Thought Leaders Numerous research studies have shown that several behavioral pathologies interfere with the possible resolution of complexity. Curiously, most of those studies rest in isolation from one another. Perhaps that accounts for the neglect of their findings in many circumstance where their insights are needed. The resolution of complexity relies on an integrated understanding of these pathologies. A careful design of a system for resolving complexity is required to be responsive to the collective pathologies, and to find ways to circumvent their mutually reinforcing effects. P31

Structural Incompetence; The definition of structural incompetence is; “the concept that describes the situation found in an organization by a program manager who is so constrained that he cannot apply his knowledge to resolve an issue, but instead must go along with a decision that inevitably appears to be a consequence of incompetence

Groupthink 1. The attribute defined carefully by Irving Janis. “how groups, especially when under external pressure, will profess to promote decisions on courses of action that are often totally st odds with what the individual members of the group believe. 2. A slang expression used by the uninformed to represent anything that a group produces which appears to have involved thought. can be predictably induced in groups by the behavior of individuals who apply pressure on groups to produce results under a time limit; wherever complexity is paramount. Symptoms see Page 149

Language language is a vital part of all communication; not merely scienctfic communication. But the quality of the natural language, which evolves constantly, and which incorporates many ambiguities, is not adequate for scientific language. So, according to I.M. Bochenski (Bochenski, 1970) Gottfried Leibnitz offered the studied point of view that if scientists want to communicate with one another, they wil have to design a specialized language in order to do so. Language Design see page 8

Structural Incompetence; The definition of structural incompetence is; “the concept that describes the situation found in an organization by a program manager who is so constrained that he cannot apply his knowledge to resolve an issue, but instead must go along with a decision that inevitably appears to be a consequence of incompetence

Killer Assumptions A condition of unjustified belief which, if held, will greatly inhibit the likelihood that human beings can resolve complexity

Killer assumptions about complexity


    Site: in the system being observed


    Scale: Human power independent of it
    History: Irrelevant in a high-tech society


    Need: Irrelevant, just go to "guru's"
    Source: "Prestigious" source is sufficient


    Normal: They are sufficient


    Research Finds They are too "soft" to be relevant to management of technological organizations

Knowledge Integration:

    just aggregate multiple disciplines

Types of Relationships:

    Requires no special considerations


    Representational: Adequacy of prose


    Extensive applicability of physical science


    No need for dedicated space


    Natural Language adequacy


    Designed for normal activity


    Same as technology

Academic Terminology:

    No need for academic precision

Executive Decisions

    Executive Capacity: Adequate

Demands of Complexity Page 38 Recognition of Distinctiveness Underestimating Complexity Learning and Profiting from history Careful Choice of Processes Distrust of Prestigious Authority Recognizing Defects in Normal Processes Recognizing Key Products of Behavioral Research Emphasizing Learning Process Efficacy Focusing on Relationships as Bases of Inquiry Becoming sensitized to Infrastructure Benefits Dishonoring Imposed Linguistic Pollution Becoming sensitized to Space Needs for Working with Complexity Disenfranchising Un-Augmented Prose as a Communication Tool Tailoring Workspace to Requirements


Thought Leaders About Language: Second Order Thought

Thought Leader Charles Sanders Peirce “One singular deception of this sort, which often occurs, is to mistake the sensation produced by our own unclearness of thought for a character of the object we are thining. Instead of perceiving that the obscurity is purely subjective, we fancy that we contemplate a quality of the object which is essentially mysterious” (Peirce)

In summary. Complexity is that sensation experienced in the human mind when, in observing or considering a system, frustration arises from lack of comprehension of what is being explored.

Thought Leader Frank Harary In the 1965 work, Harary et al span several branches of mathematics to present the analytical basis for the mathematic of modeling, the mathematics of structure. Taking that mathematics as a basis, John Warfield augmented it with the corresponding synthesis scheme, so that where Harary's approach analyzes structural models, and shows how they are presentable symbolically, Warfield's approach offers the algorithmic basis for model construction: i.e., for construction of structural models that show patterns of understanding (Warfield 1976)

Thought Leader Augustus De Morgan He was the first logician to present a logic of relations

Thought Leader Aristotle Aristotle saw logic as a means to the attainment of knowledge (as did Peirce, who did not se it a a final determinant, but highly contributory to understanding). He insisted on rigorous scientific procedure, and contributed to standard philosophic method by his invention of the syllogism. His innovation in developing categories contributed to the thought process which he fostered.

Thought Leader George Boole Boole presented a system of logic that encourages the representation of propositions by variables, so that a variable x might represent the proposition “this coin is a dime.” By invoking the idea off a collection of propositions, it became possible with Boolean algebra to construct a collection of propositions, each of which could become represented by a particular variable.

Thought Leader Peter Abelard According to Bochenski (1970), Peter Abelard first stated the concept of the syllogism in a single statement in each of the following ways: “Whatever implies the antecedent (implies) also the consequent.” Whatever follows from the consequent (follows) also from the antecedent.”

Gottfried Leibnitz Leibnitz recognized the need for design of language just for scientists to communicate with one another.

Thought Leader David Hilbert Hilbert conceived the idea of “metalanguage”, a concept that plays a foundational role in today's computer science, and one that formalized in language the idea f Lebnitz that scientists would have to develop languages of their own, if they were going to be able to communicate effectively.

Behaviorial Pathologies: Individual, Group, and Organization (Page 33-6)

Behaviorial Pathologies: Individual, Thought Leader Robert F. Bales Bales work shows clearly that individuals can disrupt the kinds of group work that promote success by activating negative behavior in the Social-Emotiona area.

Thought Leader Kenneth Boulding Boulding has described the propensity of leaders (a) to accept and propagate uncritically ideas and concept that diminish productivity, (b) to allocate importance in spurious ways across possible options and © to suppress or at least to avoid incorporating valuable additions into the prevailing culture, defying those who have worked hard to make such additions available.

Thought Leader Michel Foucault Foucault asks that received doctrine not be uncritically accepted; and asks that a greater sensitivity be developed to the importance of uncovering the origins of belief and the trajectory of that belief through time, to determine where it may have gone astray and may require reconstruction in the light of new discoveries, Foucault would not expand disciplines by addition, but rather by integration and subtraction.

Thought Leader George Miller Miller's experiments indicate that individuals cannot rely only on mental activity to inquire into relationships among large sets of variables. If learning about complexity is a goal, external adjuncts to learning are necessary to supplement mental activity.

Thought Leader Herbert A. Simon A central conclusion of Simon's work could be that the construction of symbolic categories to replace more numerous individual members is critical in advancing human understanding.

Thought Leader Sir Geoffrey Vickers Among Vickers views were these: (a) the language of science is constantly being downgraded by individuals who use words to suit their own ends. Instead of maintaining a sense of community by respecting the integrity of scientific language, (b) representatives of the physical sciences are prone to make major errors by overlooking the human aspects of human systems, and © it is helpful to think of an “appreciative system”, when looking toward major decisions.

Summarizing and Integrating: Individual Behavioral Pathologies Pg 36

Many potential hazards await when an individual strives to comprehend complexity. Included are these: (a) a limitation on the amount of information that can be managed in short term memory. (b) the choice of inappropriate categories, inadequate to reflect the membership in those categories, © inability to take part in group activity without disrupting it by exercise of emotional negatives, (d) mindless acceptance of received doctrine which biases an inquiry at its onset. (e) inability to allocate importance across members of a large set in the light of relative saliency, (f) downgrading of the language of science to suit individual preferences, (g) inadequate use of external learning adjuncts to compensate for mental limitation, (h) disinterest in the origins and trajectories of bodies of beliefs, (i) uncritical propagation of dysfunctional received doctrine, (j) lack of self-recognition of physiologically-based mental limitations when pressing personal beliefs on others, (k) excessive emphasis upon products of physical science when working with human systems, and (l) self-generated action frameworks that may incorporate combinations of the foregoing.

Thought Leaders on Group Behavioral Pathologies

Thought Leader Graham Allison Graham Allison shoed how the “Groupthink” pathology was heavily evidenced in policymaking that produced the decision to go ahead with the “Bay of Pigs Invasion. He showed further that this pathology could survive at the highest levels of government, and that it could be induced by executive pressure to reach a decision.

Thought Leader Irving Janis Janis described how groups, especially when under external pressure, will profess to promoter decisions on course of action that are often toatyy at odds with what the individual members of the group believe.

Thought Leader Harold Dwight Lasswell Recommended the Lasswell Triad: (a) situation room, tailored to serve group needs for information and comfort; (b) a prelegislature, developing policy concepts in depth before the political process began (to minimize false starts and effects of lack of knowledge) and © the social planetarium, or use of real estate to educate with large, sequentially-spaced displays, as a follow-up to high-quality exploration of an issue.

Thought Leader B.W. Tuckman Tuckman reviewed a large number of studies of groups in action. He concluded tht there is a typical pattern that characterizes group work. This pattern, he indicated, consists of these four stages Forming, getting to know one another Storming, striving to get their own views into the discussion Norming, arrangements are reached for proceeding Performing. Members contribute to the task

Summarizing and Integrating: Group Behavioral Pathologies Pg46

In summarizing the group pathologies, once again it can be recalled that each member of the group brings that member's uniquely-fashioned individual behavioral pathologies to the group. To the cumulative effect of those, one now escalates the difficulties in group work. The group is susceptible both to groupthink and to clanthink, either or both threatening the quality of the group product. Add to that the common practice of failing to understand the importance of working infrastructure when struggling with complexity, and there is already a tower of reasons to suppose that the group product cannot help resolve complexity. Recognizing further that the language which is needed to portray complexity cannot be as hoc but must carefully evolve as the group proceeds, and that it must portray structural nonlinearity; one sees that the work of ordinary groups, no matter how prominent and no matter how frequently occurring, can hardly be taken seriously by anyone who is seeking a modicum of understanding.

Thought Leaders on Organizational Behavioral Pathologies

Thought Leader Chris Argyris One Track Behavior Undiscussability Disconnect Between Announced and Actual Behavior

Thought Leader Anthony Downs Rational Procedure as Goal Self-Interest as Motivaton Social Influence as Highly Determining

Thought Leader Harold Dwight Lasswell By informing all members of the relevant organization of the major activities going on in the organization and of the interconnections among them, every viewer is placed in a position to assess and act on the shared information.

Thought Leader Herbert A. Simon His recognition of “satisficing” as a standard organizational practice helped reveal the fact that organizations do not search systematically for ways to resolve their organizational problems, but, rather, simply take the first seemingly viable avenue that appears.

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