Lesser Discussed Traits of Complexity

Popular descriptions of hashtagcomplexity include terms such as: unknowns, unknowability, emergence, interactions, connections, uncertainty, unpredictability. Lesser discussed aspects are those of:
  • tension;
  • compromises;
  • tradeoffs;
  • costs;
  • tolerances;
  • sacrifices;
  • competing values.
Each of these lesser discussed traits of complexity require looking at things from multiple perspectives, seeing spectrums & dimensions, considering competing alternatives, making assumptions, & asking questions about potential futures. 

So what sorts of tensions or spectrums am I talking about? Here is a short list of some that immediately come to mind, in no particular order:
I realize many of these seem redundant, overlapped, and interconnected. In some cases, my vocabulary reaches its limits. The point is that, in each of these spectrums, none(!) of the extremes are right; none(!) of them are wrong. There is a natural, perpetual tension between these conceptual bookends. The spectrums arise in different forms in different contexts. And there are almost no(!) answers...only preferences that seem appropriate based on the perspective, mindset, and desires of the actor.

In this sense, complexity can be just as much about preferences, intentions, beliefs, values, & priorities as it is about emergence, unpredictability, or interactions. hashtagAdaptability and agility begins with an understanding of choices along spectrums.

Know what you're giving up.  Choose wisely.  

What tensions would you add to my list above?? 


Lou Hayes, Jr. is a criminal investigations & intelligence unit supervisor in a suburban Chicago police department. With a passion for training, he studies human performance & decision-making, creativity, emotional intelligence, and adaptability. Follow Lou on Twitter at @LouHayesJr or on LinkedInHe also maintains a LinkedIn page for The Illinois Model.


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