For all ‘Aid on the Edge’ readers wanting a straightforward, clear and above all short introduction to complexity science, your wishes have been answered with a well-written 16 page primer, adapted from Brenda Zimmerman & co’s work on health systems. It doesn’t answer all complexity-related questions, but it is certainly a very useful entry point for those starting out their journey on the complexity sciences. As the abstract notes:
This paper is called a ‘primer’ because it is intended to be a first step in understanding complexity science. In house painting, the primer or prime coat is not the finished surface. A room with a primer on the walls often looks worse than before the painting began. The patchy surface allows us to see some of the old paint but the new paint is not yet obvious. It is not the completed image we want to create. But it creates the conditions for a smoother application of the other coats of paint, for a deeper or richer color, and a more coherent and consistent finish. As you read this primer, keep this image in mind. This paper is not the finished product. Ideas and concepts are mentioned but only given a quick brush stroke in this primer. You will need to look to the other resources… to get a richer color of complexity.
Download the paper here, and do share any thoughts and ideas using the comments function. And for more reports on complexity with specific relevance to development and humanitarian work, take a look at the Publications page of this blog.