The Difference Between Complicated And Complex

Many authors of academic work in various fields have faced a challenge by defining the term ‘complex’. By this, it is common practice to illustrate how ‘complex’ distinguishes to the word ‘complicated’. While the Cynefin Framework developed by David J. Snowden and the Stacey Matrix from Ralph D. Stacey offer a tremendous contribution to the cause, it is always handy to get some allegorical support for the discourse. Johnnie Moore has formulated a couple of smart lines which especially would delight the enthusiast in airline complexity:

‘The wiring on an aircraft is complicated. To figure out where everything goes would take a long time. But if you studied it for long enough, you could know with (near) certainty what each electrical circuit does and how to control it. The system is ultimately knowable. If understanding it is important, the effort to study it and make a detailed diagram of it would be worthwhile.

So complicated = not simple, but ultimately knowable.

Now, put a crew and passengers in that aircraft and try to figure out what will happen on the flight. Suddenly we go from complicated to complex. You could study the lives of all these people for years, but you could never know all there is to know about how they will interact. You could make some guesses, but you can never know for sure. And the effort to study all the elements in more and more detail will never give you that certainty.

So complex = not simple and never fully knowable. Just too many variables interact.

Managing humans will never be complicated. It will always be complex. So no book or diagram or expert is ever going to reveal the truth about managing people.’

Author: Moore J. (2005). More Space: Nine Antidotes To Complacency In Business.
The book is available at (direct link) 
Author’ web address:

Evaluation of Project Complexity – Airline Industry Survey

Context Project Complexity

While the evaluation of project complexity presents an important aspect for today´s project success and therefore various systematic approaches exist, there is only little information available, how broadly these have been adopted by airlines and their industry business partners.


The objective of the survey and its report is to discover whether airlines evaluate complexity systematically and how such evaluation is implemented at a corporate level. Furthermore, typical use cases are addressed exploring a potential issue through subjective evaluation approaches, the effort and minimum experience required to practically perform an evaluation and whether there is a need to suggest an improved approach.

The outcome will allow for additional insights on the organizational maturity level of the participating companies, their commercial manifestation (by the count of PAX, employees) and how this relates to their way of evaluating project complexity.


Exploratory survey with qualitative and quantitative components. The questionnaire includes 22 questions addressing the main subject. These are designed based on the author’s professional field experiences, research expert support and common literature. The report preliminarily is descriptive and shows the summarized questions and responses. Partly, it is accommodated with concluding assumptions and additional information.

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Evaluation of Project Complexity at Airlines – Survey Report

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