Even when the DNA is similar “we can’t fix today’s problems with yesterday’s tools”:: Part 2


INFORMATION – INTELLIGENCE – INNOVATION have transformed our INVENTIONS, theories and practices to such an extent that we need to be aware of the limitations of our knowledge: we MUST question what we “know”…not so much a case of familiarity breeding contempt but leading to “ignorance” and increasing risk.

The complexity of some man-made systems has so outstripped our ability to manage them that, increasingly, we need to draw upon our observations of the complex systems found in nature 

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

Practice without sound theory will not scale…but it WILL expose and “amplify”, wrong assumptions, errors & omissions

The irreversible complexity of man-made systems* e.g. communications, IT, transport, economic, financial, business, logistics, business, etc. have outstripped our ability to understand, maintain, manage or repair flaws without the tools and techniques that enable us to examine the relevant system components and relationships at a variety of scales [micro – macro – holistic]: Law of Requisite Variety (refer Part 1).

This is the approach that has enabled quantum leaps forward with medical diagnoses and care: complex systems do not come with greater complexity than our own biological systems!

Instead of treatments based upon individual symptoms, statistical correlations in patient data and predictions based upon past experience, true insight (sic) has come from the development of tools to examine, if necessary, at nano scale…even pre-birth.

We now know that “invisible” flaws in genetic code or at molecular, cellular  and neuron levels can make the difference between life or death: can determine whether someone is born with a condition that may affect the length or quality of life; is prone to certain types of infections or diseases…

Medical Research & Development has led us to the point where MRI & Functional MRI scans have replaced X-rays or exploratory surgery; key hole instead of open surgery; cancer treatment is tailored to the type/grade or personalised to the individual. Of course not every illness or condition is as a result of some endogenous (internal) “imperfection” there are innumerable exogenous (external) factors affecting our health BUT, BY LOOKING WITHIN, THOSE THAT CAN BE COMMUNICATED ARE BEING IDENTIFIED, ERADICATED, TREATED OR IMMUNISATION DEVELOPED…irrespective of the finer detail, the old adage “prevention is better than cure” is, not only validated but reinforced.

“the prospect of using the genome as a universal diagnostic is upon us today”

NOW, IF IT IS NOT TOO MUCH TO ASK, I WOULD APPRECIATE IF YOU COULD ACCEPT THAT COMPLEX SYSTEMS SHARE COMMON PROPERTIES AND APPLY THAT IN THE CONTEXT OF SOME OF THE *MAN-MADE SYSTEMS I REFERRED TO ABOVE.Complex-business_thumb

This graphic, of some of the sub-systems of a business system, may help:

But please remember that systems such as this, with its sub-systems, are only part of larger systems and networks that exist across scales and domains: economic; social; cultural; environment.

Within these sub-systems (that were built as hierarchical structures in the Industrial era) are other networks and systems e.g. countries, territories, divisions, departments, products, teams, units and, of course, individual biological systems with their own in-built, networks, etc.

DANGER: Such configurations may have been adequate to aid management of the complicated businesses of the era but, in their attempts to  manage the highly complex systems of the Digital Age, constrain system capability and impede the effective information-flow to, from and within the system. The primary role of management needs to be to ensure the effective flow of information and to maintain operational and financial alignment to aid system function/ performance NOT vice versa!

A complex system performs at its best when the information upon which it relies is communicated as fully and freely as it can be amongst the interdependent components, in order that resources are able to self-organise, to enable the system to perform the variety of functions for which it was created.

They are “dynamic” with no single equilibrium but, as with the biological system, are self-regulating [homeostasis]

More Complexity Facts and Part 3 to follow…

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