I Was Wrong: Exponential Gains Require Systems Thinking

Posted 1 year, 5 months ago | Originally written on 20 Dec 2022

I previously wrote about how exponential gains require exponential effort. I'm now coming to realise that this is not strictly true.

To be precise, linear thinking results in linear output--there is no doubt about that. However, I'm developing a growing realisation that systems thinking i.e. capturing the whole before embarking on the parts, is by far the most powerful means by which mind can master matter.

Systems thinking is the basis for good engineering. It involves synthesising a coherent set of non-redundant parts which can fulfil a set of specifications or requirements. The problem is that systems thinking is hard but the good news is that it is possible to get better at it. As one practices synthesising components, one gets better and faster but there is no magic pill by which one can arrive at that point. Every systems thinker must do their time in the valley of the shadow of death.

Therefore, while it is not strictly true that exponential gains require exponential effort, the early days of systems thinking do not differ much from exponential effort.