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
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.
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.

(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Saturday February 14th, 2015

Changing Your Life-Style – But How?

The art of living as propagated by Rupert Lay, Hermann Schmitz and Wilhelm Schmid

Rupert Lay was my most important mentor. Even before I founded the InterFace AG, I first attended one of his seminars in Frankfurt early in the 1980ies. This is now more than 30 years ago. The meeting was the start of a long cooperation, leading to an intense friendship I am very happy with.

Carsten Lange (also a friend I met in the network created through Rupert) of Lange Communication pointed me towards a dissertational thesis. I contacted the author Stephan Thiele and we had a very nice discussion.

Here is the dissertational thesis by Stephan Thiele, also about Rupert Lay, for your download:

Sein Leben ändern - aber wie? (495)

Written at and with a certificate from the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Braunschweig in order to earn the title of “Doctor of Philosophy” – Dr. phil. – by Stephan Thiele, born July, 3, 1966 in Zeven.

For me, it is very important to make material about or on Rupert Lay available for as many persons as possible. Especially also for all the friends I first met through Rupert. This is a reason why you will find many videos and presentations by Rupert Lay on my Youtube-Channel (Roland Dürre), some of them from the times of the “Ronneburg Circle”.

It seems to me that this dissertational thesis is an important contribution worth reading for all those persons who are willing to think about their personal concept of life. And you are always permitted to disagree. Even the author himself told me that he would formulate some theses and topics differently if he had to write them today.

Many thanks to Carsten Lange (who pointed me in the right direction) and Stephan Thiele (the author).

(Translated by EG)

Since today the state of affairs for all humans is more critical than ever, it is absolutely imperative: ”You Must Change your Life” (after Rilke)
(by Peter Sloterdijk)