Taming a Beast


Every day, you struggle with a huge ugly beast that wants to:

What is this beast?

It is the main disease of complex systems.

Over the years, it has had many names, such as "Bureaucracy" and "Inefficiency". A currently popular term for it is "Technical Debt".

In prior posts, we started to explore the causes of this disease, identifying that a primary cause is the intrinsic complexity of the host system.


A comprehensive understanding of complexity will take us a long way toward taming our beast. This is because complexity is at the root of the symptoms we wish to control.

For example, why might it take "too long" to add a new feature to your system?

Interestingly, we can prefix each of these with "Because the system is so complex, ":

In the prior post, we directly related complexity to dependency. This will turn out to be critical as we develop strategies for coping with complexity. When applied to the above example, we can develop a good sense for a directly contrasting situation:


The best overall methodology for combating complexity is to reduce the number of dependencies. The challenge is to accomplish this while minimizing disruption to ongoing operations, and at an acceptable cost. Luckily, there are effective techniques for doing this.


In the next post, I will discuss a powerful technique for reducing a system's overall complexity by reducing the overall degree of dependency between components. Ironically, this may sometimes involve increasing the number of dependencies in some areas.