- Organized simplicity. Systems with few elements. Analyzed mathematically.
- Disorganized complexity. Systems with many elements acting randomly. Analyzed statistically.
- Organized complexity. Systems with many interconnected elements. Analyzed with operations research/model-building methods.
Joe Martino tells TOF that "One of the most horrible examples I ever encountered was the use of a Cobb-Douglas Production Function to predict the effectiveness of bombing the Ho Chi Minh trail. When I first saw the model it fairly screamed 'wrong!' But the people who put it together saw nothing wrong with it."And yet, these things have so many pretty equations they seem like they damn well ought to work. And they do, in some cases. Kingsbury Bearings has a model for hydraulic bearings that works well in predicting the performance of new bearing designs.* So what's the problem? Operationally, what is the difference between a model that is "useful" and one that is "true"?
(*) hydraulic bearings. TOF digresses. At the entrance to the Kingsbury plant is a placard honoring the Kingsbury Bearing installed in Holtville #5 in 1912. TOF inquired of his hosts in the 1980s when he spent some time with them: "How long did it last?" "We don't know yet," was the response. "It's still running." As of 2008, it was still running with an estimated TTF of 1300 years. That's craftsmanship!