Stephen E. Arnold: How Complex Systems Fail

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Stephen E. Arnold

Failure: The Reasons Are Piling Up

Years ago I read a monograph by some big wig in Europe. As I recall, that short book boiled down failure to one statement: “Little things add up.” The book contained a number of interesting industrial examples. “How Complex Systems Fail” is a modern take on the failure of systems. The author has cataloged 18 reasons. Here are three of the reasons, and it may be worth your time to check out the other 15.

  • Complex systems contain changing mixtures of failures latent within them.
  • Change introduces new forms of failure.
  • Failure free operations require experience with failure.

I would like to add a couple of additional reasons for failure:

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