Failing Monoliths

Complexity and structural change

Mike Meyer
5 min readFeb 22, 2022


Photo by @charlybron on Unsplash

by Mike Meyer ~ Honolulu ~ February 22. 2022

We are not equipped to handle the current levels of complexity that we have created. This problem has been growing and becoming, itself, more complex.

People think of complexity as numeric. Numbers get more extensive, but some people can handle large numbers. Organizationally we add more levels of people in the hierarchy that manages those numbers.

This institutional solution has worked well through the last five thousand years. However, we know that the solution now requires automation beyond our ability to deal with it manually.

Artificial intelligence is disturbing but essential. It also is rapidly replacing people in critical roles and threatens to replace millions in more mundane functions. But, unfortunately, we don't know how to deal with this or where it is going.

While our science and technology are moving us rapidly toward an integrated planetary economy, our institutions are failing just as rapidly. Or maybe they aren't, and we are being lied to about what is happening. Our ability to determine valid statements, truth, as distinct from lies has disintegrated in the face of complexity and systemic change.

We do know that climate disasters are accelerating, and we seem unable to do more than make tentative gestures toward known solutions—the paralyzing arguments about this disaster center on the timeline to irreversible changes to our civilization.

The process of paradigmatic change is, however, becoming understandable. Paradigms are a coherent grouping of explanations for how things work. Simple reasons become more complex until our paradigmatic assumptions can no longer be usefully contained in the old paradigm.

This process also applies to institutions that are built on evolving paradigms. Our species operates by classifying things and grouping them to make them easier to understand and manage.

As I stated initially, scaling or quantitative growth adds more people and more layers of hierarchy to manage that complexity. But, again, the paradigmatic assumptions are built into this organization as similar processes can be handled using the same model.



Mike Meyer

Writer, Educator, Campus CIO (retired) . Essays on our changing reality here, news and more at