Tuesday, 27 November 2012

How to simplify over-complex systems

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[Following from http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/the-pyramid-of-technology-and-of.html ]

In the long run, institutions cannot be more complex than the understanding of their leaders; thus, because the intelligence of leaders has declined, institutional complexity must reduce.

But the complexity must be reduced by great individual (specific human) reformers building-up complexity from core principles which they can understand

- and not therefore by condensation of the complexity into simplified general schemata (however this condensation might be attempted, by whatever means - currently usually statistical).

Building-up is the only thing that works because it preserves core functionality.

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A positive example of what must happen was the method by which the complexity of Christianity was reduced by The Reformation, while preserving 'functionality' (salvation).

Since the Christian tradition had become so corrupt in the West, the religion was simplified to scriptural principles (by the inspired work of individual geniuses) and re-built from that base.

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But the many recent institutional simplifications I have experienced professionally in education and health services have been damaging failures, precisely because they fail to preserve core functionality.

(e.g. Health service 'reforms' which severely damage the doctor-patient relationship and impose government objectives; teaching 'reforms' which reduced the amount of teaching and increase class sizes; college admission 'reforms' which impose inverse discrimination; research 'reforms' like peer review and research evaluation systems, which punish truth-seeking and truth-speaking.)

The failure to preserve core functionality is denied and lied about, and core function is redefined and redefined ('mission statements'); but the destruction is real, of course.  

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