Join getAbstract to access the summary!

It’s Not Complicated

Join getAbstract to access the summary!

It’s Not Complicated

The Art and Science of Complexity in Business

University of Toronto Press,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Explore the “complexity-thinking paradigm,” and discover that “it’s not complicated.”

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable
  • Concrete Examples


Drawing on systems thinking, professor Rick Nason encourages you to differentiate among “simple, complicated and complex” problems. He explains the “false axioms of business” and seven ongoing “paradigm shifts“ to help you understand how each type of problem requires a unique approach. Nason draws from economic theory, scientific management and behavioral research to offer a broad perspective on problem solving. At times you might feel a bit lost in this rather complicated – or complex? – approach to strategic thinking, but Nason cites business examples, both recent and historic, to help you connect the dots. getAbstract recommends his take on conquering the “complexity-thinking paradigm” to businesspeople and managers who may sometimes feel stuck in old ways of attacking hard problems.  


“Introduction to Systems and Complexity”

You can apply systems thinking to many fields, such as the natural sciences and engineering, to describe how things work and how to get tasks done. However, systems thinking is less known in the business world. Across fields, systems thinking differentiates among three kinds of tasks:

  • A simple task – Making coffee is a simple task because it is straightforward, it doesn’t require much skill training and it’s easy to determine if you’ve achieved the right result.
  • A complicated task – Preparing accounting statements is complicated because you need to be an expert who understands financial rules. Following these rules exactly produces a well-defined outcome. You can reproduce this outcome by giving the same task to another accountant who should come up with the same results.
  • A complex task – Giving a sales presentation differs from making coffee or preparing accounting statements because it doesn’t follow a prescribed, linear path to success. Each sales meeting is unique; results depend on positive interaction between you and the client. You...

About the Author

Rick Nason is an associate professor of finance in the Rowe School of Business at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Comment on this summary

  • Avatar
  • Avatar
    J. M. 6 months ago
  • Avatar
    M. F. 7 years ago
    The main point derived from this abstract of Its not complicated’ is that Solving complex problems requires strong leaders willing to work through problems as they arise.Unlike simple and even complicated problem ,solutions to complex problems cannot be solved using reason or logic alone.The reason being that there is no one obvious or best solution to complex problems like climate change for instance.One must think systemically like a chess player and anticipate problems as they arise and take one decision (move) toward the final objective (checkmate).It requires intelligence but even more confidence that your intuition can take you to the finish line.This view of business seems to follow that of other disciplines like behavioral economics and behavioral finance.This novel idea of complexity may led to a new field of Behavioral Business .It will require emotional intelligence when dealing with people and making decisions.It also requires thinking about the paradigm shifts in business which result and having to deal with more complex situations than ever before

More on this topic

Learners who read this summary also read