I can’t write simply about complexity and systems. It will lose its meaning.

by | 21 Jul 2021

Writing about complexity and systems thinking can be hard to understand.

When writing about complexity or systems thinking, there is a lot of nuance. There are fine distinctions to draw and subtleties to highlight. Not to mention the abstractions.

The worry is, if you simplify, you lose that.

And it’s the nuance that distinguishes systems thinking from reductionist thinking in the first place.

It’s not that you shouldn’t make things easier to understand, it’s that you should do so while aware of the tradeoffs.

Simpler is accessible to more people.

More nuanced is more precise, but fewer people will be able to access, understand and apply what you are writing about.

Keep your book consistent. Once the register of your work is set, you need to stay at that level. Once an academic has settled in for a challenging read, explanations of simple concepts will turn them away. Similarly for the general reader suddenly plunged into an esoteric chapter.

Know your readers and set the level of the complexity of your writing consciously and sensitively.

But remember, straightforward writing is good for everybody, whatever their level of their knowledge. Using jargon and abstractions because you can, serves no one.

Be clear and precise at just the right level for your book and its readers.

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