Complexity, Simpicity, Coherence

Learning from Nature's Networks

Fritjof Capra, in his book ‘The Hidden Connections’ applies aspects of complexity theory, particularly the analysis of networks, to global capitalism and the state of the world; and eloquently argues the case that social systems such as organisations and networks are not just like living systems – they are living systems. The concept and theory of living systems (technically known as autopoiesis) was introduced in 1972 by Chilean biologists Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela.  

This is a complete version of a ‘long-blog’ written by Al Kennedy on behalf of ‘The Nature of Business’ blog and BCI: Biomimicry for Creative Innovation www.businessinspired... See on

Listen to sync up with the system's creativity

Dibyendu De shares Challenges & Adaptations in #Complexity 

Complexity is always beautiful as it is infinitely creative. It constantly creates new situations and therefore demands us to be aware of what is happening all around compelling us to be insanely creative too. Else we would soon be out of step with the system’s creativity.
Going out of sync with system’s creativity spells disaster. Systems would never listen to us; we need to listen to systems. However, the fundamental process of being and remaining creative is to follow the principles of 1) Design/Redesign 2) Maintain 3) Destroy what is unnecessary. There is no harm embracing complexity. In fact, that is precisely the story of our human survival through intelligent adaptation. Nothing more. Nothing less.


Networks and the New Operating System

Harold Jarche cites Kotter "So while change cannot be managed, per se, organizations can be structured in ways to be more resilient to change. Kotter suggests a second operating system:"

The existing structures and processes that together form an organization’s operating system need an additional element to address the challenges produced by mounting complexity and rapid change. The solution is a second operating system, devoted to the design and implementation of strategy, that uses an agile, networklike structure and a very different set of processes. The new operating system continually assesses the business, the industry, and the organization, and reacts with greater agility, speed, and creativity than the existing one. It complements rather than overburdens the traditional hierarchy, thus freeing the latter to do what it’s optimized to do. It actually makes enterprises easier to run and accelerates strategic change. This is not an “either or” idea. It’s “both and.” I’m proposing two systems that operate in concert.

A coherent organization is structured to take advantage of the complexity and noisiness of social networks, allowing information to flow as freely as possible, and affording workers the space to make sense of it and share their experiences and knowledge.

Seeing the simplicity

Snippets from the transcript with Eric Berlow:

I hope to convince you that complex doesn't always equal complicated. I want to share with you a couple key insights about complexity we're learning from studying nature that maybe are applicable to other problems.
First is the simple power of good visualization tools to help untangle complexity and just encourage you to ask questions you didn't think of before. the more you step back, embrace complexity, the better chance you have of finding simple answers, and it's often different than the simple answer that you started with. When you see a diagram like this, I don't want you to be afraid. I want you to be excited. I want you to be relieved. Because simple answers may emerge. We're discovering in nature that simplicity often lies on the other side of complexity. So for any problem, the more you can zoom out and embrace complexity, the better chance you have of zooming in on the simple details that matter most.


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SNA w/ sensemaking of voices, values and concerns

Rick Davies talking about Dave Snowden's methods.
From my point of view, one of the most interesting and important challenges is how to create useful representations of large, complex, dynamic structures, especially as seen by participants in those structures.
multi stakeholder processes in operation at national and international levels.
Management of complexity only seems feasible when it is on a small scale, such as the children’s play group example cited by Dave Snowden (DS).
set of tools that can be used for producing representations of complex structures
These are social network analysis (SNA) methods and associated software
the sense-making approach provided a useful complementary perspective. This was all about making use of large sets of qualitative data, of a kind that cannot be easily used by SNA tools. Many of this data was about people’s voices, values and concerns, all in the form of fairly unstructuredand impromptu responses to questions asked by their peers (who were trained to do so). These are called “micro-narratives” (MNs).
the decision to ask respondents to “self-signify” the qualitative information they had provided. This was done by asking the respondents to describe their own MNs by using two different kinds of scales, to rate the presence of different attributes already identified by the researchers as being of concern. The consequence of respondents providing this meta-data was that all the MNs could be given a location in a three dimensional space. In fact a number of different kinds of three dimensional spaces, if many self-signifiers were used. Within that space it was then possible for the researcher to look for clusters of MNs. Of special interest were clusters of MNs that were outliers, i.e. those that were not part of the centre of the overall distribution of MNs.
an additional purpose of using self-signifiers to identify clusters of MNs is to prevent premature completion of the process of interpretation by the researcher, and thus to strengthen the trustworthiness of the analysis that is made.Read more at

Networked Data Citizens

Amplified via Strange Attractors by 

The internet is the nervous system for an organism that is in the process of being born,” says John Perry Barlow, founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation in talking about “vibrant data.” Intel’s Vibrant Data project ...

At Digital democracy, ...  potential to study patterns of data to learn more about how we build systems of trust and social capital. Data aggregation can lead to annoying ads on your Facebook page… or it can facilitate new interactions, bringing people together to consume collaboratively, solve complex problems or anticipate emerging issues. How we as a society negotiate these tensions in what is an ethical free for all?

In the new era of data and citizen access, we also need to think about building government capacity and agility to ensure that data is respected, but also to inform government #DecisionMaking and actions.  

Self-organizing Collective Intelligence

The emergence of collective intelligence is intrinsically a process of self-organization. If the process were directed by a single individual (say, the group leader), who imposes a consensus view on the others, then that perspective would not be more powerful than the perspective of the leading individual. In other words, the collective would not be in any way more intelligent than its leader. Self-organization happens in a distributed or decentralized manner: the different members of the group all contribute to the emerging organization, and no one is in control. This makes the process complex and intrinsically unpredictable, as tiny differences in the initial state (such as who speaks first, or which word is initially used to designate a particular item) may lead to very different outcomes. That is why such a process of group discussion and emergent interaction patterns needs to be understood with the conceptual tools of complexity science.

Cite:  Heylighen, F. (2013). Self-organization in Communicating Groups: the emergence of coordination, shared references and collective intelligence. In Complexity Perspectives on Language, Communication and Society (pp. 117-149). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

HT +Glistening Deepwater /


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Posted on in Nemetics
Dan RD

By Dan RD

Yo! I'm mulling the future of everything.  My interests are so diverse I've decided to collapse them into the study of Nemetics -- an ongoing collaborative inquiry.

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