Is Star Wars about complexity?

by | 30 Jun 2021

It’s a classic hero’s journey. A farm boy’s destiny thrusts him into a quest to save the princess, battle the dark lord, and destroy the evil castle.

But what underpins Luke’s transformation? He grows up, learns to trust others to fight evil, but his real awakening is his awareness of The Force.

“It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.” —Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars: A New Hope

We can explain the macro properties of merely complicated systems, such as computers, by breaking them down and analysing them.

What about complexity? Complex systems arise when many parts interact to produce nonlinear, unpredictable, yet not chaotic, situations. These may have emergent properties that seem magical, such as consciousness or evolution.

…instead of attempting to impose a course of action, leaders must patiently allow the path forward to reveal itself. They need to probe first, then sense, and then respond. —Snowden & Boone (2007) Harvard Business Review.

“allow the path forward to reveal itself.” Sounds like trusting in The Force.

So is Star Wars about complexity? Is The Force emergence? No. It’s a construct for a fantasy movie so characters can do magic. But as a boy, the power of The Force arising from the interconnectedness of things felt like the wonder of emergence from complex systems does to me now.

As complexity and systems thinkers, we must tap into people’s intuition that the world is complex and emergent and show them practical ways to dance with it to make things better. Wonder is part of curiosity. Let’s use it.

May The Emergence be with you!

Photo by ActionVance on Unsplash

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