Dealing with Complexity LO7418

Gordon Housworth (
Tue, 14 May 1996 03:24:33 -0400

Replying to LO7395 --


At 07:34 12/05/1996 -0400, you wrote:
>writing a book called "The Work Program of Complexity: From Origins
>to Outcomes". The whole book can be viewed as an explanation of the
>Behavior-Outcomes Matrix in great depth, showing why it is the appropriate
>model for working with complexity, and what to do to resolve the

I have a glimmer of the feeling that Laocoon must have felt as he first
grasped hold of the serpent.

While your post deserves more reflection, I wanted to make a brief reply
as a means of thanks for your response. We have a 4X4 matrix, one side of
which is The Work Program of Complexity:

o Description of a Situation
o Diagnosis of that Situation
o Design for Change in that Situation
o Implementation of the Design

and the other side is the Behavior Modes:

o The isolated Individual (in normal behavioral mode)
o The small group or team (in normal behavioral mode)
o The organization (in normal behavioral mode)
o Process

The Work Program side is not seen as controversial while Behavior is,
seemingly because of the inclusion of Process with behavioral modes.
While I would lure you to expend another email unit on this, let me first
step into the void and say why it did not strike me at all odd. I
frequently see individuals (many authors and consultants included) that
speak of organizations as if they were monolithic blocks, whereas I see
them more as a ball of writhing eels, with each eel a metaphor for
individual stakeholders and shifting amalgams of stakeholders perceiving
certain common interests, some lasting and some transient.

This squares, for me, your joining the individual, the small group, and
the greater organization with Process as each of these stakeholders has a
process for sustaining and defending their perceived self-interest(s).
These sustaining processes are almost always at odds with the "published"
processes of the organization -- and even if the processes were at one
time in true alignment with the interests of the groups, the perceived
needs of the groups, and the constituency of those groups has changed
without a corresponding update to the process. Since it appears to be a
universal human trait to fill in an unknown with a negative and then
operate on it, any new Process is viewed with the suspicion (rightly I
think as the legitimate stakeholders are rarely identified and their
interests even less often identified) that the new process will not
materially aid them and will, like as not, harm them. And the greater the
delta between the published process and the "working process," the greater
the resistance to accepting the change as it will force the hidden,
working process out in the open.

Every Process must satisfy the Three Test of Gregory III (which I believe
that I referred to in error in an earlier thread as Gregory II):

o What fairness suggests.
o What the law allows.
o What will work.

And the Process must satisfy those tests for each stakeholder/stakeholder
group, otherwise the group will behave in a way that subverts the process
on offer and substitutes a new one (and outright rejection of the offered
process is allowed as a "substitute" in my definition).

Having stuck my neck out, I'll be intrigued at your own justification for
putting them together. Now what about those 17 Laws of Complexity...

Thanks for your post.

Best regards, Gordon Housworth
Intellectual Capital Group
Tel: 810-626-1310


Gordon Housworth <>

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