Are the mechanisms and solutions more likely to be simple (like the rules), or complex (like the problems)?

problem solving, system understanding; When we replace our problem solving paradigm with a system-understanding paradigm things go much better...

Such a great question! One that requires a bit of prerequisite terminology. The DSRP and VMCL "building blocks" are as you say simple even though they belie the emergent outcomes of complex systems (cognitive complexity and organization, respectively). In both cases this is because these systems (cognitive complexity and organization) are complex adaptive systems (CAS).

The question you are asking is a slightly more complex one. When USING a CAS as a tool to UNDERSTAND another CAS, can we expect solution or understanding to ALSO be simple.

If the system being studied is, in fact, a CAS, then yes. But if it is a different type of system, then perhaps not. (See some other types of systems here ).

The other question that is embedded is, will (1) the system (under study) BE SIMPLE or (2) will the system be DRIVEN by SIMPLE RULES? IF you are analyzing a CAS (which all social systems will be, for example) then the answer is #2. Iow, the system itself will be complex, because it is. But that complexity will be the emergent property of simple rules.

As an example, a team of our students recently analyzed such a system in the Galapagos and came up with recommendations which are simple. But the system itself is massively complex. We call this "CAS-based analysis."

See more on CAS:

See Galapagos study here:

So, simple answer is, if it is a CAS then the system itself will be complex, but your analysis would benefit from seeking to discover the underlying simple rules.

One other thing I will say on this topic. We have seen that one of the biggest problems people have in solving problems is that they use a problem solving paradigm. I know, that sounds insane! But it is true. Problem solving and solution finding is very popular. But the problem is that when you frame a system behavior as a problem, you immediately bias your analysis. First because it may not be a problem and second because by implication you are immediately looking to find something: a solution! This means that you will be less likely to see/hear/understand what the system is telling you--what the system reveals of itself.
So, rather than going in with a preconceived problem/solution bias, try simply to first understand the system. When you do, it almost always turns out that A problem is revealed. But it is not often THE problem that you first identified.
When we replace our problem solving paradigm with a system-understanding paradigm things go much better...