Thursday, September 24, 2009


This book is subtitled “Why Simple Things Become Complex (and How Complex Things Can Be Made Simple.”

To me the use of the word complexity in the title and most of book is misleading. Most of the time the author is writing about what I would call complicated systems. Complicated systems do not have the distinctive characteristics of complex systems such as emergence or randomness. Furthermore, a complex system cannot be made simple. Humans are quite often fooled by complexity and make assumptions that result in simple solutions, often with disastrous consequences. However, dealing with complicated systems is still daunting. And, I really liked his many examples and his analysis that many of the complicated systems we deal with are results of our own design.

However, the book is still an interesting read, and he does offer some insights into how to change complicated systems into simpler ones.

One of the sticky points for me in using better design to make products less complicated is that would require much more complete knowledge of what customers want. And, as most markets are complex, achieving that degree of certainty will be impossible. A real conundrum.

Simplexity, Jeffrey Kluger, Hyperion, 2008, 150p

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