The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts


A friend once gave me an easy way to distinguish between complicated and complex.

Reconstructing an Airbus A380 is complicated. It starts with taking an A380 apart piece by piece. It ends with taking all the individual pieces and putting them back together. For every piece, there is a predefined way as to how it works. It takes time, it’s hard work and it has a clear process.

It doesn’t mean that you have to be able to do it on your own. The point is, that it is feasible and repeatable.

Taking a bunch of spaghetti from one plate to another is not complicated at all. Most of us know how to do this without having spaghetti drop on their way and miss the plate. What’s not feasible is to predict how the spaghetti will organize themselves on that second plate. And as often as you’ll try it, there is no way you can bring the spaghetti to the next plate and have them rearrange themselves exactly as before. That’s complex.

And yet, putting them on a plate is simple. Eating them too. What it might require is some practice in taking them up. How you do it will depend on the way that suits you best.

A complicated task requires a different approach than a complex task.

Distinguishing between complex and complicated is the starting point.


By Elga CappellariFlickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

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