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The Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the established definition of words in the English language, is at odds with other definitions of complexity proffered by Complexity Theory. This variance is likely to cause confusion in the delivery community. The incorrect classification of a project between ‘complicated’ and ‘complex’ is considered by some to be a major source of project failure; resolving this issue is therefore critical. This paper explores the definition of complexity by
assessing definitions from various sources and by conducting a survey of over 100 delivery professionals. The results demonstrate the extent of the confusion and have informed considerations on how to resolve this. This paper recommends that it is essential that the definition is either defined at the start, or that the term is avoided by using its components. This paper identifies a simple modification to the OED definition that would resolve many of the issues, if implemented.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 12 Jul 2018
Event28th Annual INCOSE International Symposium - Grand Hyatt Washington, Washington DC, United States
Duration: 7 Jul 201812 Jul 2018


Conference28th Annual INCOSE International Symposium
CountryUnited States
CityWashington DC

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