We are trained, from early childhood, to break intractable problems apart, so they become smaller
'sub-problems'. The assumption is that smaller problems are by nature not as intractable as the big ones,
and if they are, well, go back to the beginning of the paragraph. This tradition goes back to the time of the
enlightenment, when we first learned about the power of deductive reasoning. Several hundred years later,
this approach has become second nature to us.
But we a paying an increasingly heavy price for this power: When in fact the solution to a big problem does not lie in solving the smaller sub-problems one by one by one, but instead in understanding the connections between them, then your deductive reasoning leads you inevitably astray.
In our steep, highly connected world we can no longer solve problems through isolated and highly specialized knowledge alone. We must also understand complex, non-linear feedback systems in order to intervene in them in a purposeful manner. The ritualistic assertions that everything is incredibly complicated, that one does not have a chance in hell to understand anything, only to then continue with business as usual, well, that simply isn't good enough any more.
Nonlinear dynamic models help by directing one's attention away from the noise and the individual event towards structure and insight. That, in turn, leads to better and more robust decisions. Nonlinear dynamic models help you find explanations that can deal with the challenges of the steep world.
If we made you curious, have a look at a short book I wrote: Scenarios: How to create them and Why you should or contact us.
To start with, have a look at Dana Meadows'
Nine Ways to Intervene in a System
... and Tracing Connections
A somewhat longer introduction is Dietrich Dörner's Logic of Failure
If you want to read the whole story, we recommend The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge,
and as technical reference Business Dynamics by John Sterman
Finally, a bit of philosophy: If you try and take a cat apart to see how it works, the first thing you have on your hands is a non-working cat.