Introduction If you have any comments or criticisms of any of the material that appears in E:CO then please send them along to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Dear Max: I would like to thank you for your thoughtful review of my new book, Holistic Darwinisn: Synergy, Cybernetics and the Bioeconomics of Evolution, which appeared in issue […]
The last few decades have witnessed the development of a host of ideas aimed at understanding and predicting nature’s ever present complexity. It is shown that such a work provides, through its detailed study of order and disorder, a suitable framework for visualizing the dynamics and consequences of mankind’s ever present divisive traits. Specifically, this work explains how recent universal results pertaining to multiplicative cascades and fully developed turbulence entice all of us, in a logical way, to seek peace in a condition typified by the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle.
The production of biological weapons occurred in the Soviet Union on a vast scale of deadly effectiveness that is chilling and horrific. How could they do this? We are forced to take seriously the notion of evil. But, if we fail to address a central claim of emergence — that the character of a whole cannot be reduced to its parts — we will seriously misperceive evil with grave consequences. Drawing upon an account of this program by its chief research scientist, this paper exposes the character of emergent patterns within which people, much like ourselves, devoted their time and effort to preparations for mass murder. The patterns are disturbingly familiar. This paper demonstrates that emergence, as a disciplined way of thinking, can expand our understanding of evil and responsibility in ways that are relevant and critically important.
Introduction I have just finished reading E:CO’s Volume 6 Annual, received at my home today and I cannot refrain from expressing that I think it is a small but wonderful piece of complex issues presentation. The authors, in my view, grasp many of the essential features of our present worldwide complexification of issues; a situation […]
Introduction It’s a sad reflection on the tyrannies of modern life that one of the few opportunities one gets for uninterrupted writing is on a plane. This piece comes to you courtesy of an upgrade on a flight to Washington, the start of five week sequence of flights to either sell, check-up on, or take […]
Introduction It’s being the best part of half a year since I penned the first of these articles from a villa in Bali. The contrast between the vivid colors and tropical light of Bali with its ceremonies and temples and the mists and thin winter sun illuminating the Neolithic stone circles of Avebury, a short […]
Introduction This is the first manifestation of a feature which is designed to be a more or less eclectic and personal diary of experiences, thoughts and cases from the frontiers of applying complexity (and other related sciences) to the field of management. It comes to you courtesy of a small study attached to a villa […]
Introduction In previous installments of this series (Richardson, 2004a, 2004b) I have explored a number of general systems theory laws and principles from a complex systems perspective. One of my key motivations for this is to understand (albeit in a limited way) the relationship between systems theory and its more recent incarnation, complexity theory. For […]
Introduction In the first part of the series (Richardson, 2004) I discussed four general systems laws / principles -namely, the 2nd law of thermodynamics, the complementary law, the system holism principle, and the eighty-twenty principle – in terms of complex-ity thinking. In this part I continue my analysis of systems theory, by considering the following […]
Introduction In his “Lesser Writings”, in order to defend a radically different paradigm in medicine, Samuel Hahnemann argues: “How can small doses of such very attenuated medicine as homeopathy employs still possess great power?” (Ruiz, 2002). Should we compare it to what Edward Lorenz said about the Butterfly Effect in 1960s: “How can the flap […]
Introduction After extensive research, we have finally cracked the essential code of social interaction, and have discovered at its core profound and universal implications and applications. It is our considered belief and ultimate conclusion – which this short article will eventually prove – that the S2T describes the very essence of social interaction. The complexity […]
Introduction The motivation for this multi-part series is solely my observation that much of the writing on complexity theory seems to have arbitrarily ignored the vast systems theory literature. I don’t know whether this omission is deliberate (i.e., motivated by the political need to differentiate and promote one set of topical boundaries from another; a […]
This report and opinion piece seeks to establish a model in which complexity can be positioned in the context of other management disciplines, in such a way as to effectively communicate to executives in industry and their equivalents in government the importance of applying complexity thinking. It also seeks to differentiate what is termed ‘social complexity’ from ‘mathematical complexity’ in the context of the development of management science. The background to this paper is taken from of the findings in a recently completed study for the European Commission entitled “Business Needs and Technology Trends in Knowledge Management” (the Study). The purpose of the Study was to answer questions concerning the role of, and future research requirements for, knowledge management (KM) that would enlarge an understanding of how knowledge management should contribute to the Lisbon Objectives of Europe becoming a global leader in the knowledge economy. In effect, the study aimed to see how KM should contribute toward growing the competitiveness of European businesses. A critical conclusion of the study was that social complexity provided a key strategic advantage of a diverse multi-cultural economic unit such as Europe (and by implication Asia and Africa) in the emergent knowledge economy, and that imitation of the research agenda and focus of the current dominant economic player, the USA, would in consequence be a mistake. In effect an approach to intellectual capital that arose in the context ofinfinitely available resources[i], and the creation of a common and new cultural identity based on the exploitation of those resources, is not an appropriate approach for the knowledge economy per se. This paper expands briefly and speculatively on some of the implications of this conclusion.
In The Sacred Canopy Peter Berger explores religion as a sensemaking mechanism by which mankind creates an order from, or imposes it upon, the world around him. More recently, David Snowden of Cardiff University has built on his own work with IBM systems to develop the Cynefin framework which further explores the relationship between man, experience and context as a mechanism to improve policy formulation**. This paper seeks to provide an analysis of policymaking within the current Bush administration and the impact of Faith upon that process as expressed through the Cynefin framework. It considers in particular how President George W. Bush’s reported religious sensibilities may be viewed as an effort to straddle the divide between order and chaos. It also examines the evolving relationship between a tightened US security policy and deregulated implementation. Finally, it explores the implications for the nature of the Presidency and impact on religious congregations in the US.
Decomposition is a way to reduce complexity. After all a problem split up into manageable parts will be easier to understand than a complex whole problem. It is however a tricky, sometimes even impossible task to reconstitute these decomposed problems and solutions to the main whole problem. Within systems science we are therefore advised to keep the complex whole in tact. The idea of wholeness relates to concepts such as layered structure, links and emergent properties. In one important soft systems approach, soft systems methodology (SSM), we are advised to use the concept of wholeness in order to understand the real world in its full richness. However, these holistic systems concepts are rather hard to use for managers. The paper tries to improve the usability of these systems concepts in the management practice.