Complexity and Knowledge Management Navigators…
Is everything in your organisation complex? More and more managers are talking about how complex their environments are and how their day-to-day work is now driven by complexity. So, what/where is the tipping point from simple, to complicated, to complex? Are they actually nested within the same environment? Do we need to be able to differentiate between the three?
Perhaps we need to appreciate our wider context in order that we, as people in an organisation, can appreciate the size (scope and scale) of the environment we operate in, our ignorance (or lack of knowledge) of what forms to constitute our environment, and the variety that exists within the boundaries of our environment. To do this perhaps we need to view our environment in a different way, scale it, so that we can appreciate the diversity of its parts in abstraction.
This led us to start looking into models that allow the simple, complicated and complex to co-exist within the same environment, as a way to illustrate to managers that not everything in the organisational environment should be considered as complex – Enter Boulding’s hierarchy of complexity (1956).
This diagram is our ongoing work that looks to map organisational complexity against Boulding’s hierarchy. The Organisational Complexity diagram is designed as a conversation starter, for those interested, and is a work in progress — Boulding’s original hierarchy follows after the diagram. The intention is for organisations to better understand size, ignorance and variety in relation to their environment. It is also intended as away for Knowledge Managers to better understand the variety of system diagnostic/design needs that exist across the organisational landscape.
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