The Complexity Register: A Collaborative Tool for System Complexity Evaluation

Matt W Potts*, David Harvey, Angus Johnson, Seth Bullock

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
43 Downloads (Pure)


As modern engineered systems become ever more connected and interdependent there is an increasing need to evaluate their complexity. However, evaluating system complexity is challenging due to the complicated conceptual landscape of competing definitions of the term complexity itself, and the range of perspectives that can be taken on what constitutes the System of Interest. This paper attempts to overcome these hurdles through introducing a Complexity Register with which to build and record a shared understanding of system complexity for key stakeholders. In order to overcome current challenges in evaluating the complexity of an engineering system, the Complexity Register encourages personnel to adopt a broad range of perspectives on the potential issues, impacts and mitigations to manage system complexity. The formulation of the Complexity Register is informed by design principles derived from a case study analysis of a system complexity evaluation tool. The Complexity Register should enable more effective shared understanding by encouraging collaboration that makes explicit the multiple viewpoints taken when evaluating system complexity and promoting continued re-evaluation throughout a system or project lifecycle.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalEngineering Management Journal
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2021


  • System complexity
  • Systems engineering management
  • Decision support
  • Risk management


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