Are we oversimplifying the complex, or making the complex too simple?


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Friend Scott Rogers (@jayhawkscot) sent me a link this morning, “The Complexity of Complexity“. A legacy from bi-gone days, when I studied Biophysics, though I still like to keep my eye on what is happening. Even more fun is when I can put what I did then, together with what I do now – thanks Scott. The read is interesting, the topic more so; and here is one of my favorite quotes from the post: “complexity is not about systems. It’s about social phenomena”. Being me, I sent that over the wire (Twitter) and Dennis Howlett suggested that it was my statement was too simplistic – there is some irony to that response, no?

Too Complex, or too Simplistic?

Lately, I seem to spend half of my day talking to people who are somewhat new to the Social CRM space and trying to connect with them, and explain what it is (hence my recent description “CRM in the Age of the Social Web”. Then, I spend the second half of my day reading, analyzing, writing and commenting, being told that I “do not dig deep enough on certain topics” and I “need to push the conversation forward”. But, we all have that issue right? Oh, I almost forgot, I spend the 3rd half of my day trying to understand and then prevent people from simplifying things to a point that all meaning is lost. I believe in the concept of Social CRM and the concept of the Social Customer, I have specific beliefs on what they mean and what we need to do. I am also willing to forget the names and focus on the characteristics, solve the problems people are asking about. I do not feel the need to affix the word ‘Social’ on everything. That said, if I don’t then people ask me if I understand…

Back to the Complex stuff

There was a great comment on the post by Holger Nauheimer:

“I have recently identified 5 major characteristics of social systems that contribute to their complexity:

1. All people have individual concerns, purposes, and circumstances.
2. All people in an organization make many unsupervised decisions, every day.
3. All people in an organization are connected in different ways to other people within and without the organization.
4. There is a close to infinite number of external and internal influence factors that shape the destiny of the organization.
5. Social systems have a strong urge to protect their integrity.”

Interesting, and I like the language too (not “all characteristics” or “top 5 characteristics” just “major characteristics”)

I will come back to the list, after I do a little more research and write a follow-up post. I am especially fond of the connection of “Social” to characteristics of “People”. Prior to the follow-up post, I would like your opinion:

1 – In all of your reading of articles, comments and blogs, are authors oversimplifying things. Skipping key attributes and characteristics which by exclusion alter the original intent? Or, is it the reverse? We are making things overly complex by including new words, buzz words and too much positioning?

2 – What do you think of the list above? (How) are you attacking the list? Does it matter? Is the list itself irrelevant and not really important to the conversation?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mitch Lieberman
Finding patterns and connecting the dots across the enterprise. Holding a strong belief that success is achieved by creating tight alignment between business strategy, stakeholder goals, and customer needs. systems need to be intelligent and course through enterprise systems. Moving forward, I will be turning my analytical sights on Conversational Systems and Conversational Intelligence. My Goal is to help enterprise executives fine-tune Customer Experiences


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