In preparation for a workshop on complexity that I am giving at EES 2022, I am preparing a list of questions whose answers could benefit from an understanding of complex behavior. Below is the list. If anyone has additions, let me know.

  1. Why is diverse intellectual input desirable?
  2. What theories of change underlie statistical thinking?
  3. When does it make sense to ignore complex behavior?
  4. How are sustainability and resistance to change similar?
  5. Why is tight coordination over broad activities so difficult?
  6. What explains the lopsided distribution of program benefits?
  7. How do top-down and bottom-up planning affect each other?
  8. What methodologies are needed to evaluate complex behavior?
  9. Why do programs seem to act as if  they are creatures in an ecosystem?
  10. What are the ways in which “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”?
  11. What is the relationship between change at higher and lower levels of analysis?
  12. How to understand the robustness or fragility of a group of connected elements?
  13. Why do so many phenomena stay stable for so long and then change radically and suddenly?
  14. How do we know if we have reached a “new normal”, and how do we know if we are getting there?
  15. Are we better off with being very successful in one domain of change  or moderately successful at many?
  16. Are we better off implementing a few very successful programs, or many somewhat successful ones?
  17. Why do funders keep implementing stovepiped solutions to problems that know have multiple causes?
  18. Why can’t we predict system behavior over a  long timeframe? (And for that matter, what does “long” mean?)
  19. Why are constructs drawn from complexity important for understanding how programs operate and what consequences their actions have?

3 thoughts on “Questions That Could Benefit from an Understanding of Complexity

  1. Good list. Qs 2, 11 – 13 are particularly interesting to me. How long will your session be, and wil you discuss each question- particularly what one would have to do to answer it?

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Hi Jonny,
    Nice to see you in the recent SETIG call. I just found out that months of Evaluation Uncertainty emails have been going into my junk email folder. Will try to rectify this.

    * Meg

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