On learning, collapse and the reduction of complexity

“…in its beginning it is easy to cure, but hard to recognize; whereas, after a time, not having been detected and treated at the first, it becomes easy to recognize but impossible to cure.”
– Niccolo Machievelli

In response to a Twitter conversation with Dave Snowden and Andrew Curry, regarding the need / possibility of reducing complexity without organisational crises.


  1. Steve Holt
    Posted May 12, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    I like the graphic and I’m intrigued that it’s Figure 19. What’s it from? Sounds as if the larger work could be interesting, too.

  2. Noah Raford
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    Hi Steve, that’s a graphic scanned from Tainter’s classic work, “The Collapse of Complex Societies“, one the best theoretical explanations of why organisations grow in complexity and why, by the same logic, they exceed their own capacity to sustain themselves and ultimately collapse.

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