How to spot emergence in complex systems

Eric Garland Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Today I did a webinar for my friends at Aurora WDC entitled How to Spot and Cope with Emerging Transitions in Complex Systems for Organizational Stability. Basically, how do you deal with chaotic transformation when you are a large institution?

This may sound awfully close to that thing called intelligence which I repudiated not so long ago. The fact is, two words that used to be very important for me – future and intelligence – are actually expunged from my vocabulary. I no longer believe in that thing called intelligence that came out of the 1980s and 90s. I think it is based on the notion that one group of people in an organization will be privy to all the most important information, and that they will give out the answers to decision makers as asked. That worldview is hierarchical and static and no longer makes sense.

These days, I believe more than ever in analysts, people whose job it is to collect, interpret and disseminate information. It’s just that their role will be peer-to-peer, not hierarchical. The use of this information will be real-time, not published. It will be about dialogue, not certainty. Moreover, these learning communities will pop up, ad hoc style, to provide value when and where it is needed, rather than being an everyday part of an institution. The tools we learned in the previous three decades of “intelligence” will be useful as a guide, much in the same way that the medical profession learns older methods and speeds right past them as some as new innovations are available.

This new approach to what was once called “intelligence” is the only way I think organizations will rise to their newest challenges – spotting the emergence of new dynamics out of complex, interconnected systems.

The slides I used are below. As soon as the presentation is available, I will let everybody know in this space.