Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Simplicity Through Complexity

I just watched this interesting presentation on TED by Eric Berlow. Eric is a biologist that researches complex ecosystems and he has found that taking a step back and looking at the big picture often enables simple conclusions to be drawn.

Good economists follow a similar approach. It is important to expand your field of vision in order to understand a whole market, or a system of markets. Only once the whole system is understood can you draw conclusions about what is happening on a micro level.

The most important line I got from the presentation was:

'the more you step back and embrace complexity, the better chance you have of finding simple answers, and it's often different to the simple answer that you start with...(if you had not taken a step back)'

So next time you are faced with a complex issue, take a step back and try to understand the big picture. You might find that the answer you are looking for is more forthcoming in a big picture analysis, and you are likely to come to better conclusions as you will understand the flow on effects of your potential actions.