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Jurgen Appelo calls himself a creative networker. But sometimes he's a writer, speaker, trainer, entrepreneur, illustrator, manager, blogger, reader, dreamer, leader, freethinker, or… Dutch guy. Since 2008 Jurgen writes a popular blog at, covering the creative economy, agile management, and personal development. He is the author of the book Management 3.0, which describes the role of the manager in agile organizations. And he wrote the little book How to Change the World, which describes a supermodel for change management. Jurgen is CEO of the business network Happy Melly, and co-founder of the Agile Lean Europe network and the Stoos Network. He is also a speaker who is regularly invited to talk at business seminars and conferences around the world. After studying Software Engineering at the Delft University of Technology, and earning his Master’s degree in 1994, Jurgen Appelo has busied himself starting up and leading a variety of Dutch businesses, always in the position of team leader, manager, or executive. Jurgen has experience in leading a horde of 100 software developers, development managers, project managers, business consultants, service managers, and kangaroos, some of which he hired accidentally. Nowadays he works full-time managing the Happy Melly ecosystem, developing innovative courseware, books, and other types of original content. But sometimes Jurgen puts it all aside to spend time on his ever-growing collection of science fiction and fantasy literature, which he stacks in a self-designed book case. It is 4 meters high. Jurgen lives in Rotterdam (The Netherlands) -- and in Brussels (Belgium) -- with his partner Raoul. He has two kids, and an imaginary hamster called George. Jurgen has posted 145 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Complexity Everywhere

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SpoonErnst & Young recently “discovered” that employees will resort to corruption and fraud when they are squeezed by management. Or, in other words, when you treat them unethically they will behave unethically.

Surprise, surprise!

It is hard to count the number of similar discoveries people have made over time. Patrick Hoverstadt, author of The Fractal Organization, wrote that Theory-X managers get constant feedback that their world-view is correct. They treat employees as people who cannot be trusted. Et voilà, the result is indeed that nobody can be trusted! You get what you measure! (Goodheart’s Law). Ralph Stacey, author of Complexity and Management, called it reflexivity. There is no objective observer.

The observer influences the system, and the system influences the observer.

This makes it all the more strange that some complexity thinkers aim to provide a framework for dealing with different kinds of systems. If the observer judges the system to be “complicated” then he should apply “Sense-Analyze-Respond”, and if the observer thinks the system is “complex” then she should use “Probe-Sense-Respond”.

Sorry, but that just doesn’t make much sense to me when I take into account reflexivity and the influence of observers. Because maybe, when I treat a complex system as simple, this is exactly how it will behave to me. Or when I judge the system to be chaotic, this could indeed be how it will respond, but only because that's how I treat it. The way I treat the system will influence how it behaves. The observer influences the system. For example, why bother deciding if the behavior of a system is chaotic? Simply the act of ignoring chaos could make it go away! Problem solved. (It could also blow up in your face. You just can’t predict the cascading effects of your actions.)

It’s much easier just to assume complexity everywhere.

You can always reduce the universe to a few domains or categories later. When you have time, over a cup of coffee. With a delicious slice of Welsh tea cake, as I just enjoyed.

(image by Jonathan Lidbeck)

Published at DZone with permission of its author, Jurgen Appelo. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)