There Is No ‘Right’ Answer for a Complex System

E.F. Schumacher, renowned economic thinker and statistician (author of Small Is Beautiful; A Guide for the Perplexed) pointed out that there are two types of problems: those for which there is a right answer (e.g., why is my engine leaking oil?), and those for which there is no one right answer (e.g., why are we running out of oil?). The more we learn about complex issues, the more we understand as Schumacher and Peter Senge (MIT Professor, author or The Fifth Discipline) say that “there is no right answer for a complex system”. To find our way through complexity, we need to be willing to invite, and enter into, learning conversations with a broad diversity of people who each contributes a partial view, from which a wholer view emerges.

Openness and curiosity help us probe beneath familiar assumptions and territory to explore multiple perspectives in the promise of achieving a more expansive view. “This”, says Senge, “is easy to say but extraordinarily difficult to do”. Eventually, the wise path towards greater wholeness requires not only that we open our minds, but also our hearts to see how we, and not just them, are part of the problem. One more thing is need of true leaders, the courage to act upon this broader understanding.

See: Systems Citizenship: The Leadership Mandate for this Millennium, Peter Senge,

Author: myriamlaberge

M.A. (Economics), Certified Professional Facilitator Founder & Managing Director