Only Complexity Can Manage Complexity

In  their article “Complexity and Organization–Environment Relations: Revisiting Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variety” published in the Sage Handbook of Complexity and Management, Max Boisot and Bill McKelvey revise Ashby’s law to The Law of Requisite Complexity. Their insight that only Complexity can manage Complexity has direct application to how we manage healthcare. And how we can manage it better.

Healthcare operates in an environment that is both socially and biologically Complex; both are inherently unpredictable and characterized by coevolution and continuous adaptation to changing circumstances that lead to emergence of new circumstances and behaviors. Unless the healthcare delivery system can coevolve and continuously adapt in ways that are equal to the complex environments it serves, it cannot control or manage effectively. Unsustainable costs and variable quality will remain the inevitable result. 

Businesses that have successfully used a complex network we call Internet, provide examples of delivering and managing products in complex environments

Consider Amazon. Amazon has a very successful Complex Adaptive System that successfully serves a socially complex environment. 

From a market point of view, several factors are making Amazon the industry leader.

  • Unlimited range of products and options

  • Collaborative platform available to competitors

  • Transparency regarding the value of each product

  • Continuously learns to serve everyone to better meet their needs

  • Actively adapts to each person to support better decisions and more choice.

From a system’s point of view, Amazon platform provides three things.

  • Structures that adapt in real time to each individual

  • Transparency that supports individual decisions

  • A simple organizing rule to provide the best value to each customer as expressed in Amazon’s vision “to be the earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come and find anything they might want to buy online”.

This strategy works for Amazon in the same way it worked for leaders in Information and Communication Systems (see What healthcare can learn from the internet). 

The Curandi Model® is based on the underlying Systems science and draws on these examples. It is a collaborative effort that offers a path that will truly transform healthcare one value generating step at a time. 

Join us in making healthcare better and affordable.

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