Complex Social System – Tool/Concept/Definition

In the point of view of problem-solving, a complex system is really a system whose behavior can’t be easily predicted from inspection from the system. A complex social system is an intricate system whose behavior is mainly caused by the behavior of social agents. Examples are ant colonies, families, and nations.

Why this will be significant

Book coverThe sustainability issue is clearly an intricate social system problem. Thus solution from the issue will borrow in the vast literature and practices of complex system theory.

In Business Dynamics: Systems Thinking and Modeling for any Complex World, John Sterman makes the reality that what really makes problems hard is the dynamic complexity. Dynamic means change with time. It handles social system problems, in society in addition to business.

Page 22 includes a highly educational table. Here’s an abbreviated listing of what’s within the table. While you see clearly, consider the number of of those characteristics from the sustainability problem have not been considered by popular solutions or even the rationale in it.

Dynamic complexity arises because systems are:

1. Constantly altering: Heraclitur stated “All is change.” What seems to become constant is, over a longer period horizon, seen to alter.

2. Tightly coupled: The actors within the system interact strongly with each other along with the natural world. Things are linked to anything else.

3. Controlled by feedback: Due to the tight coupling one of the actors, our [solution] actions feed back on themselves. [This could cause unpredicted reactions through the system to solutions. Systems will adapt.]

4. Nonlinear: Effect isn’t proportional to result in, and just what happens in your area inside a system frequently doesn’t apply in distant regions. [Expected outcomes aren’t related with a straight line, like on the graph. The connection is much more frequently nonlinear, like exponential growth.]

5. History dependent: Taking one road frequently precludes taking others and determines in which you finish up (path dependence). Many actions are irreversible.

6. Self-organizing: The dynamics of systems arises spontaneously using their internal structure. [Because of] the feedbacks one of the agents and aspects of the machine.

7. Adaptive: The capacity and decision rules from the agents in complex systems change with time. Evolution results in selection and proliferation of some agents while some not survived. [Social agents will evolve to maximise their competitive advantage.]

8. Counterproductive: In complex system expected outcomes are distant in space and time, basically we tend to consider causes close to the occasions we aim to explain. Our attention is attracted towards the signs and symptoms of difficulty as opposed to the underlying cause. High leverage coverage is frequently not apparent.

The following John constitutes a tremendously insightful statement: “;Our attention is attracted towards the signs and symptoms of difficulty as opposed to the underlying cause.” That is what sustainability problem solvers happen to be doing. Because of insufficient deep analysis, their attention continues to be attracted towards the signs and symptoms instead of their underlying root causes. It has led to a lengthy string of symptomatic solutions, also known as superficial solutions.

What don’t let do rather, since “high leverage coverage is frequently not apparent?” John shows that essentially we have to model the issue to be able to grasp its essential structure. Then your high leverage points solutions should move on is going to be apparent.

Complexity may be the toughest factor systems thinking has to cope with. The behaviour of the complex system emerges from the structure, or perhaps in more prevalent terms, the whole is more than the sum of the its parts. Thus one useful position for grasping complexity is the idea of an emergent property.

As pointed out around the left in John Sterman’s list, complex systems are counterproductive. What you believe will act as an answer too frequently does not. For any lengthy management of this subject, see Counterproductive Behavior of Social Systems by Jay Forrester. Here’s the start of the paper:

“;This paper addresses several problems with broad concern within the U . s . States….

“;The nation exhibits an increasing feeling of futility because it frequently attacks too little our social system as the signs and symptoms keep getting worse. Legislation is debated and passed with great promise and hope. However, many programs end up being ineffective. Results frequently appear unrelated to individuals expected once the programs were planned. At occasions programs cause precisely the reverse of preferred results.

“;It has become easy to let you know that such contrary results can occur. You will find fundamental explanations why people misjudge the behaviour of social systems. You will find orderly processes at the office in the development of human judgment and intuition that often lead individuals to wrong decisions when dealing with complex and highly interacting systems. Until we arrived at a far greater knowledge of social systems, we ought to expect that tries to develop corrective programs continuously dissatisfy us.


What is a Complex System?