Roland Dürre
Friday July 8th, 2016

Can We Reduce Complexity?!

A short time ago, I integrated a knowledge proposal (Wissensangebot) by Thomas Kleiner into IF-AGORA. The message was:

“How to reasonably reduce
complexity
without making it trivial!“

Thomas offers seminars to managers that enable them to come to better terms with our complex world. And basically, he is always sold out.

I also twittered his new proposal. I gave it the title “How to reasonably reduce complexity!“ In no time, received feedback came in, for example “this statement is a complete #fail“ or “well, I look forward to seeing how that is supposed to functionl“.

Unser Kater Lenin, genannt Wladi.Sein Bruder Stalin, genannt Joschi, ist ausgezogen.

Our tom Kater Lenin, aka Wladi. His brother Stalin, aka Joschi, moved out. A very complex animal, not just biologically speaking.
Owner:
Barbara Dürre (cat)
Maresa Dürre (photo)

Well, you need to know that, on the internet, there is an intense discussion about the difference between “complicated” and “complex”. There was even a PM-Camp about project management in Berlin that tried to define the two terms.

Project managers had quite heated discussions about how to differentiate between complex projects and complicated projects. Also about how to solve those problems.

Personally, I can only speculate that dominant logics will not help either in a complex world. But then, where is the surprise? After all, it even often fails in very simple worlds and with merely complicated projects.

Incidentally, I very much appreciate one of the protagonists involved in the discussion about “complex versus complicated”: Niels Pflaeging. Although I always doubt if his analyses are correct, I certainly wholeheartedly believe in his conclusions.

Back to the knowledge proposal. You need to know that Thomas Kleiner is a wise philosopher. His diploma thesis is about “The Concept of Humanity in the Work of Rupert Lay“. It was not the only reason why he studied “constructivism” – and, as I see it, he actually understood it.

The theory of “constructivism” made me even more convinced that the categorization of a system or project as complex or complicated only happens in the cognitive awareness of the listener.

I also think the complexity and complicatedness cannot be understood or measured with scientific methods or metrics. It is a philosophical topic, or, as they used to say, one of “metaphysics”.

For us, “complex” is just as hard to understand as “endless”. Complex is something you cannot rationally define. I only know metaphors that are supposed to express complexity, but not a single one of them can serve as a valid, comprehensible and objective definition.

Consequently, I think the “reasonable reduction” of “complexity” is absolutely goal-oriented and possible. After all, it concerns the subjective perception of what seems to be reality and the way we deal with it. And, of course, I also think that you should never ever trivialize complexity.

No. Complexity is something you should enjoy and relish!

Here is an example:

I need our tom-cat to illustrate what I mean. Officially, his name is Lenin. However, the family calls him Wladi because they do not like the name Lenin. Unfortunately, his brother Stalin (the family called him Joschi) moved out. He no longer got along with Lenin .

Tom-cat “Wladi“ Lenin is certainly a very complex system, just like all mammals. I will reduce his complexity by just referring to him as cat or pet. In this way, I can make use of a lot of experience humanity has gained in dealing with cats without trivializing the animal. In fact, I might even like him and be able to find his activities conclusive. Regardless of the fact that I will never understand the complexity of a cat.

Persons who think you (HUMANS) could know and realize anything you set your mind to actually scare me. They try to change “complex” system with great speed and harsh measures. My fear increases when these measures are about our environment (nature) or our health (also nature).

I witnessed the tragic fate of quite a few elderly persons. Medicine made their last years absolutely miserable because it tried to heal them with scientific rationality. It would have been so much more helpful if they had just applied the rules of reason and reduced and simplified many processes.

To me, it seems like something similar is currently happening to our planet.

Far too many persons believe you can categorize the world into complex and complicated and thus change it for the better through rationality. As I see it, this is some kind of “omnipotent mental decease”. And I fear that, as often, “the chickens are counted before they hatch”. Except that it will take a lot longer for us to realize this.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Sunday December 28th, 2014

Starting IF AGORA

logo-agoraCurrently, I actually think about how to spend my post-InterFace time in a meaningful way. This is why, shortly before Christmas, I bought the IF-AGORA.de. Until then, the enterprise was a hundred per cent an InterFace offspring. Now it belongs a hundred per cent to my family (at InterFace, my family only has the simple majority).

Up to now, the IF AGORA has been structured to be a market place for experience and knowledge. In the future, I wish to extend it and turn it into an “Agency for Change #AfV” which links persons and provides additional experience and knowledge. For a more successful, better and more human world.

All kinds of social systems, but in particular most often enterprises, find it difficult to face a changing environment and “social change”. More often than not, they do not even realize that something changed – which means that they will fail due to their own ignorance.

It is my vision to – if this is at all possible – influence the current evolution a little in order to pave the way for a more humane future in accordance with our habitat. Or simply to save projects from failure and thus make persons and teams more successful. We need courageous decisions in the stress field between ratio and intuition/heuristics. They must be free of influences caused by dogmatic moralizing.

This is absolutely necessary, because, as I see it, not just enterprises, but also townships, regional municipalities and associations act against the common welfare in how they behave and in what they do economically, thereby harming themselves. Simply because they believe that is how they have to behave, because, after all, it has always been done in this way. Especially institutions that used to be very powerful get less and less important. Just remember how alive, for instance, VDE, VDI, Bayme, BDA and many more used to be. And how dead they are today.

Even in rich Bavaria, many regions now show a tendency towards doing worse. Classic measures, such as support programs and a race when it comes to building up infrastructure are supposed to help. The result is often a very limited success: money is often distributed all around indiscriminately.
What we need is regional concepts. The people living in a region must communicate and remember their assets and strengths. Then you can develop an integrated concept and courageously act by following it.

In and for the future, the wisdom of the masses will be sought after. The simplicity of the individual will do more harm than good. The political parties, too, are on the decline. Along with their “institutions for political education”, they drove themselves more or less out of the market. The concept of ideas belonging to the people was lost just like the dialogue with people was lost. Thus, the political parties have reduced themselves to become mere interest groups; lobbyism dictates politics.

You get the impression that our modern society consciously wishes to rob us humans of our autonomy and make willing consumer citizens out of us. Mind you, we are talking the autonomous person as the leading maxim of enlightenment. Meaning a human being who asks questions. Using manipulation and marketing, those who are powerful control us. There are all varieties of motivations: power and financial interest. Alleged inherent necessities of a growth-oriented economy rule over us. Turnover and results are the dogmata behind which the Germany AG and its politicians unite.

What I want is the conscious development of a selective “social consensus” for a modern form of “common good economy”. I want to start with the micro cosmos of our society and in difficult projects. I will gladly make a huge impact.
So how do I propose to go about it?

Here are central phrases:

  • Share and distribute experience and knowledge.
  • Make living “agile”, “lean” and “open” your central virtues.
  • Create a culture where “communicating with each other” is supported and re-introduced.
  • Realize communication at eye-level between two persons in a team.
  • Link important champions in various systems in a democratic way.
  • Create bridges between “institutionalized systems” (such as associations) and “free communities”.
  • Instead of saying “you must and I force you”, you should say “you want and you can” – both in education and on the job.

In order to successfully initiate change, we need knowledge and competence in various dimensions.

  • mental concepts & philosophy
  • personality
  • motivation
  • entrepreneurship
  • organisation
  • innovation
  • projects

To my personal advantage, I am friendly with comrades-in-arms who contributed through truly extraordinary achievements in the sense of the new world on each of these topics.

Let me just name a few first names. Feel free to guess who I mean:

Kathrin, Melanie, Maja, Nadja, Andreas, Bernd, Bernhard, Eberhard, Gebhard, Jens, Jolly, Klaus-Jürgen, Nikolaus, Roger, Rolf, Stefan, Thorsten and many, many more.

Some of them are already among the “knowledge providers” of IF-AGORA.de. All of them have not only proved through writing their own books that they are familiar with theory, but also shown their practical skills. I met them as intrinsically motivated workers who manage to live a more or less autonomous life.

This is one of the reasons why I am optimistic. Because: if you have these kinds of “champions behind you”, nothing can go wrong. Especially if you believe in self-organization, work with “agility”, “leanness” and “openness”, and if you wish to support customers and partners towards finding their way through asking the right questions together, rather than indoctrinate others. Those questions are important for added insight, innovation and solutions.

All businesses need values in order to make them meaningful. Let our values be: honour, love and respect. Along with courage, civil courage and joy at producing something. This is how I would like the IF Agora to develop from a market place of knowledge and experience to an “agency” or an “office” of change.

🙂 Now all I need is customers. “Sales targets” are aplenty and I already had some excellent conversations with regard to those.

Supported by this community, I find it a nice goal to counsel on a high level. I wish to help our customers and partners towards building their own success in a sustainable and humane way. And I find it absolutely legitimate to also want to earn good money in the process.

I also see this kind of Change Management as a new task of IF Agora – which I now intend to wake from its Big Sleep. Currently, I am in the test-and-try phase, talking to many people and giving the concept a clear outline. And who knows: maybe I will find more great partners in the future.

Well, I look toward the future with a huge amount of optimism

RMD
(Translated by EG)