What is Simplexity ?

By Anton Rossouw.

Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955) had very deep insight on the balance between Complexity and Simplicity when he said:

"I wouldn't give a nickel for the simplicity on this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.”

In relation, my definition has little insight and much ignorence, because as a mere beginner on this side of complexity I can only articulate my simplistic viewpoint which is that simplexity is the dynamic combination, interaction and flow between Complexity and Simplicity within organic (i.e. living) systems.

Simplexity recognises that complexity in everything we experience has simple rules behind it. These simple rules guide the system dynamics.

By understanding and harnessing the simple rules we can influence and guide the development of complexity within a system by creating the right conditions and events that will cause the system to change, which means we may desire it to:

1) negatively collapse and start over or disappear,

2) re-organise itself into different random directions that will create new possibilities, or

3) evolve to become more resilient or specialised and deliver positive benefits.

The simple rules and the richness of (or lack of) the starting condition combine to become the fuel that powers the creation of complexity and certain potential and emergent value in systems, be it within our organisations or our projects.

This applies in organistions as the recognition that behind every complex problem are simple solutions that are not apparent at first but have to be elaborated through sensemaking processes. A guiding prinicple is that the "obvious" initial answer is likely wrong, but could be usefull.

Immersing ourself into complex contexts allow processes of emergent sensemaking to happen that creates insight into the simple rules and the alternative paths that they influence. The key to understanding these rules are that there is no single right answer or single dominant strategy, but that an emergent set of simple rules, conditions and opportunities will interact dynamically within the environment and power it to respond non-linearly to the right stimulus.

We can at best create rules, principles, conditions and environments for a complex system to evolve into a direction that we believe it should move towards, be it becoming more sustainable, more specialised, more predatory and opportunitic, more dormant and responsive, or collapsed and dissolving.

That can be described as a process of pressurisation through constant, consistent nudging and nagging into dynamical movement (with positive or negative consequences).

We can influence it through our participation and create conditions for it, but we can never predict where exactly it will move to, and we can never control it perfectly. The only control we have is over our self to participate and act as part of (or removal from) the complex system.

Simplexity is the ability to process, understand and make sense of complex contexts, evironmental conditions and system dynamics and the simple rules that govern, drive and influence it, and then harnessing that understanding to create new paths and conditions for the future to unfold into, without being fooled by our biases, dispositions and backgrounds, but driven by our passions to better futures.