Gall’s law

This needs wider recognition:

A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over with a working simple system.

From Gall’s Law on Wikipedia.


Thanks to Geir & Jonas @ Telemark Fylkeskommune for bringing this law to my attention.

13 thoughts on “Gall’s law

      1. It’s actually more Tibetan Buddhist. In Tietan Buddhism (Per Robert Thurman) enlightenment isn’t a simple thing but rather an escalating complexity.

        IMHO in Zen, the complexity of experience increases in the WAY we do things. A master painter and a beginner are both painting a scene. The master painter is more relaxed and pleasant and his work is more complex.

        1. And yet, the way a master painter, or any master, does things calls for more than pre-programmed actions or behavior. For example, I’ve heard more than one awakened spiritual teacher say that they themselves do not know the answer to some question a student might ask until the student asks it. And the answer can be enlightening for the teacher too.

          Being “present” seems to be the key to tapping into intuition and creativity.

  1. Biological evolution is a classic example of Gall’s law. From the simplest cells, to cells with others cells as symbiotes inside them, to multicellular plants and animals built up from those compound cells. At each level, natural selection only allows organisms that have a workable ‘design’ to survive.
    And evolution cannot make jumps between two workable designs via an impossible intermediate, so every step has to be able to function.

  2. That is also a great coaching methodology.

    Step 1. Find out what existing systems are working in a person’s life.
    Step 2. Build more complex systems based upon those systems.

    1. And the corollary:

      1. Find out what areas of a person’s that iisn’t working.
      2. Reduce that area into the simpler bits that DID work and rebuild from those.

      1. Exactly. This is why I think the book “The Power of Habit” is such a great piece of work.

        It talks about the concept of a keystone habit. A keystone habit is a new habit one decides to use as a simple system of change that spirals upward to higher complexities.

        Change comes from the conscious decision to manage one’s unconscious habits.

        The “100 Days” challenge you guys use is a great way to start a Keystone habit.

        Keystone Habits radiate benefits into all areas of life. It akin to a “stable datum” but different as it is a chosen automatic behavior rather than a belief.

  3. This very blog is a good example of such evolution. The working word here is EVOLUTION, from my viewpoint.

  4. Pretty good datum. The following seems to be a datum of comparable magnitude:

    LOGIC 15. The introduction of an arbitrary into a problem or solution invites the further introduction of arbitraries into problems and solutions.

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