Exploring the science of complexity series (part 1): Introduction

This article is part 1 of a series of articles featuring the ODI Working Paper Exploring the science of complexity: Ideas and implications for development and humanitarian efforts.

Many of the issues faced in knowledge management and organisational management generally are complex and interconnected, but they are often approached in an overly simplistic manner, informed by linear ways of thinking.

This series of articles uses the science of complexity to outline an alternative approach to analysing and understanding these issues. Complexity science can enable those thinking about and working on these issues to better understand and adapt to the complexities of the real world.

The series is drawn directly from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) Working Paper Exploring the science of complexity: Ideas and implications for development and humanitarian efforts. While written in the context of development and humanitarian work, the paper is also broadly relevant, including to knowledge management and change management. It explores and explains ten key concepts of complexity science and considers their implications:

  • Interconnected and interdependent elements and dimensions
  • Feedback processes promote and inhibit change within systems
  • System characteristics and behaviours emerge from simple rules of interaction
  • Nonlinearity
  • Sensitivity to initial conditions
  • Phase space — the ‘space of the possible’
  • Attractors, chaos and the ‘edge of chaos’
  • Adaptive agents
  • Self-organisation
  • Co-evolution.

Next part (part 2): Foreword by Robert Chambers.

Article source: Ramalingam, B., Jones, H., Reba, T., & Young, J. (2008). Exploring the science of complexity: Ideas and implications for development and humanitarian efforts (Vol. 285). London: ODI. (https://www.odi.org/publications/583-exploring-science-complexity-ideas-and-implications-development-and-humanitarian-efforts). Republished under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 in accordance with the Terms and conditions of the ODI website.

Header image source: qimono on Pixabay, Public Domain.


Originally published at RealKM.