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We respond to Obvious problems by picking the appropriate Best Practicse. We have looked at all possible game and have figured out the best possible way. They are called Best, because there is always exactly one best response.
In complicated problems the relationship between cause and effect is predictable, but (very) hard to predict. Complicated problems are the domain of expert, who are better able to predict what is likely going to happen. Which is exactly what top chess players do. They need to predict what the likely moves of their opponents are going to be. Experts can simultaneously consider more possible options, but also reduce it to a smaller set of scenarios that require more analysis.
So the strategy becomes Sense – Analyse – Respond. And because it is impossible figure out if a move is the best move (except check-mate obviously) there are no best practices in the complicated domain.
Complex problems are completely different again. What sets them apart is that the relationship between cause & effect is only obvious in hindsight. The gaming metaphor for complexity is poker. Unlike chess, which is a game about predicting, poker is game about learning. Learning what cards your opponents have and how they compare to yours. And the high level strategy for chess doesn’t work for poker.
Again, taking the poker example that probe can be in the form of betting. If you make a bet you force opponents to respond to it, by folding, calling or raising. This can give you information about their hand. But other probes can be calling out opponents, sensing can be just looking at their demeanours for example.
So the most important thing about Complexity is that there is no way to learn (and thus solving the problem) without doing. Just thinking about it isn’t going to solve it. In Complex problems our practices are always evolving based on what we learn. In poker, even if we would play a game with the exact players with the exact same cards would turn out differently, because we learned things not just about the game, but certainly about our opponents.
ChaosChaos happens when there is no relationship between cause and effect or they change very quickly. In this case there is no point in probing because any learning does not help us get better.
The gaming analogy here is children playing. Anyone who has ever played with kids know that the rules are continuously changing. And there is no point in trying to learn the rules before starting to play. You have to get in and play with them (Act), while making sure are having fun (Sense) and change accordingly if not (Respond).
But most often we end up in Chaos because of some crisis. When that happens we need to very quickly stabilise the situation and get back out of Chaos. This happens all the time in business, where we are frequently relying on hero leaders and task forces to get us out of trouble.
But the most important learning is that a whole lot of our circumstances are complex. And thus inherently unpredictable. And no amount of thinking is going to solve that."
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Trechos retirados de "Understanding Complexity"