How from order does complexity emerge? Part 1 – Attractors

Complexity does not appear without any reason. There are signs and forces, such as attractors that can indicate and explain how complexity created.

The goal of this series of posts is to explain in plain business English (well, in my English :-)) how complexity arises from very stable and order organizations. I hope that this series will help you to understand this phenomenon and to be able to better deal with it. Each one of these posts explains one driving force to complexity as defines by chaos theory.


Any system (including organizations) has a default behavior that is set by external forces. For example, if you’ll roll a ball in a bowl, the force of gravity will eventually influence the ball’s movement until it reaches the lowest point of the bowl. Any initial change in the ball’s directional movement or location is temporary, the default location as determined by the force of gravity will be the lowest point. When more than one force impacts the system, the ball will have many attractors. Multiple attractors cause different behaviors such as:

1) The ball won’t stop at one specific point. Rather, it will orbit around the orbits of all the attractors, but it never reaches a default stage as it happens with one attractor.

2) Instead of orbit around one center. the ball will orbit around two or more centers. The best example is the behavior of a metal ball when attracted by one magnet or set of magnets.

The same principle applies to a group of people. They fluctuate between attraction to a default behavior or orbiting around two or more attractors. One or more forces (attractors) will influence the transition of organizations into complexity. Over time two attractors or more create many stages and unexpected behavior.

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