As We Move Forward: Complexity

FrustratedI was thinking recently about how complex things seem to have become in so many areas of life. At first I assumed this was a natural conclusion on my part reflecting the fact that I am getting older. On further reflection, and after talking with others, of various ages, I have reached the conclusion that complexity seems to be increasing at a very rapid rate.

One area I have witnessed this increasing complexity is in the rather broad realm of the internet, including social media. I have watched the internet become an increasingly integral part of our personal lives, as well as business and professional applications. While this spread has led to many incredible improvements in our lives, it has led to other things not so positive. I have become amazed at how fragile the internet is for something we depend on for so many things in our lives. “The internet is down,” is a crisis call that can cripple normal activity, personal or business.

I know several IT professionals. I am alarmed at the stress in their lives. People experiencing an IT crisis want it solved–immediately. That is a level of complexity that I am pretty sure did not exist a few years ago. I am not even talking about things like cyber hacking, identity theft and the ever increasing number of security protocols that have become necessary to survive in this environment. The progress has led to some tremendous breakthroughs in our ability to manage information. It just seems no one person has the knowledge to solve the problems that arise, let alone understand the complexities that occur in our connected world.

Social media points out the increasing complexity of relationships that increasingly involved technology brings. Social media has given us the ability to communicate instantly with virtually anyone in the world. This should have resulted in a one hundred percent increase in effective interpersonal communication. Somehow I think complexity has prevailed here as well. We can definitely share more words more quickly than ever before, but are we really communicating with more clarity and understanding?

ThinkingAs we move forward, what do we do in the face of ever increasing complexity? First, we have to accept that this seems to be an inevitable by-product of change and especially progress. We need to accept that we will be facing more and more problems for which we have neither the solution nor a full enough understanding of the situation to begin designing a solution to the problem at hand.

That is OK as long as we remember to think of each new challenge in its simplest form. What is the basic problem that needs to be solved? Then ask what resources are needed to solve the problem and how to gain access to them. This way we can stay focused on the good things that complexity brings us. Hopefully, this approach will keep us moving forward, in a positive frame of mind and moving toward our goal.

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