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Characteristics of Complex Systems

The Cause of the Problem is Within the System

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The cause of the problem is within the system

Problems observed in complex systems are almost always internally generated. While it is easier and more comfortable to place blame on others, it is more productive to look within the system itself to understand and change undesirable behavior.

This complex system is commonly identified by the oscillations within the system.


  • A person may experience burnout repeatedly, all the while thinking that his workload is fluctuating over time and “driving” him to burn out. In reality, it could be that his own desire to achieve ever-higher standards is the real culprit.














  • Locally rational choices, such as when ranchers try to maximize their own use of a shared resource (a tragedy of the commons situation), can lead to problems for everyone when the resource disappears. If each actor in the system thinks his own behavior is reasonable but everyone else is taking too much, he will never see his own contribution to the problem.




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