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The subject of complexity and its sister field of systems thinking are fascinating areas for research. In a single swoop many of the concepts that underpin these areas can provide explanation for so many apparently unrelated phenomenon, ranging from star formation to market collapses to epidemics. But the application of these ideas and concepts to business seems to somehow fall short of gaining widespread acceptance or generating commercial value.
It is very fashionable these days to talk about supply chain complexity. But everyone who uses this term assumes that their readers understand what is meant by "complexity". But do they?
I was surprised to learn that there is a lot of debate over the defintion of the term "gene" among geneticists! In spite of this seemingly fundamental hurdle, no one can argue that the study and applications of genetics has greatly benefited society. In fact every day brings some news about a new gene therapy or the discovery of a genetically related illness. The same cannot be said unfortunately about either complexity science or complexity management.
In a recent survey conducted by GXS - an e-commerce and B2B integration services company, 84% of more than 800 respondents from the logistics industry said that they expect supply chain complexity to increase in the next three years. Furthermore experts who ran the survey indicated that the leaders will be the ones who can "master and manage this complexity".
There are apparently many different definitions of risk as there are practicing groups. But most definitions involve computing some form of probability of an event. Doug Hubbard in his book "Failure of Risk Management" makes a very convincing argument for standardizing the definition by invoking the difference between Risk and Uncertainty.