What is a Complex Problem?
Leaders today face challenges that are complex in nature. According to a recent article in Fast Company magazine written by David Benjamin and David Komlos, “They are issues like doubling the growth of a business, transforming a culture, offering a world-beating consumer experience, complying with new legislation, or stemming an epidemic”. Most businesses today have silo solutions that are in-effective at solving highly complex, multi-dimensional problems.
Humankind is skilled at making linear connections from one technical achievement to the next. It’s when problems are multi-dimensional that special skills are required to solve strategic issues where linear thinking or technical superiority fall short.
Add to that an accelerated rate of change and it’s no surprise change happens at a rate faster than we can act.
Complicated or Complex
Complicated challenges tend to be technical in nature. Our linear skill sets are adapt at fashioning solutions that building on a foundation of methodically connecting dots to a straight-line solution.
Complex challenges require ingenious responses. Because there is no straight line to a solution, you may never really solve your complex challenges.
Fast Company gives some examples to help you differentiate the terms:
- Fixing a car is complicated; disrupting the automotive industry is complex.
- Implementing a customer relationship management system is complicated; delivering a winning customer experience consistently is complex.