Inspired by genetics, chemistry finally takes hold of its own code


A section of DNA; the sequence of the plate-li...

A section of DNA; the sequence of the plate-like units (nucleotides) in the center carries information. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t claim to know a great deal about “organic chemistry but I do know that, in science and in business, effective transfer (flow) of information is key to the resilience of complex systems. Without the appropriate tools this “transfer” is unseen but, like the research that led to de-coding human DNA itself, once innovation affords us the opportunity to observe. Knowledge and understanding follow.

However, until such time as we can identify and monitor the exchange of information is what we now know about DNA little more than an index? THE next breakthrough surely needs to relate to the ‘unseen’ system that regulates the interactions…after that, in time, we may get to the [protein] codes within the code. Such is the fractal nature of our own biology and other complex systems.

Ontonix can aid the process and are keen to identify opportunities to demonstrate the capabilities of our technology to bring insight about complex systems…biological or otherwise.

Where the complexity arises

The specialist attributes the genetic code to this genius of nature. “It is rather simple because it is based on four foundations—adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine (A, C, G, and T). The double helix structure of DNA is also quite simple. The complexity arises mainly from the cell’s transfer of this information from one stage to the next.”

Corporate Culture:: it is better to be wrong and to change


Although the main focus of this article is the American Auto Industry, the examples of failing Corporate culture across sectors are plentiful. Whether resistance to change is borne out of inertia, ignorance, arrogance or any one of many other reasons, IF the environment in which a Corporation exists, has changed and it fails to adapt, all the “tried and tested” means of manipulating financial data to present a “healthy” outward appearance can only mask the truth for so long!

Creative accounting, “innovative marketing” (of re-packaged products and services) or improved gross margins (as a result of technology, reduced costs) can deliver better results but are unsustainable and may do little more delay the inevitable.

Organisations that persist with the hierarchical management structures intended to manage people and, predominantly, linear processes in the Industrial era are inviting disaster.

Why did Blockbuster idly watch Netflix destroy its business? Why did Kodak let digital cameras drive a once-mighty industrial giant into penny-stock territory?

Ask Jeff Stibel, and he’ll tell you: because that’s what troubled companies do. Stibel, once an aspiring cognitive scientist in Brown’s graduate program, is now a serial entrepreneur who has led turnarounds at Web.com and Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. “Once the human mind has set out to do something, or has gotten in the habit of doing something,” he told me, changing it is “very hard.” When you add group dynamics, it’s even harder. You don’t need to be a brain scientist, of course, to know that people resist change … and yet, even knowing that, you’d be surprised at how many firms keep driving toward inevitable disaster at top speed.

Even when the DNA is similar “we can’t fix today’s problems with yesterday’s tools”:: Part 3


WARNING THE FOLLOWING ARE BAD FOR THE HEALTH OF A BUSINESS SYSTEM:

EXCESSIVE COMPLEXITY can come in a wide variety of forms: flawed economic theory; excessive debt (measured in relation to the requisite complexity of the system); poor or misguided Governance [instead of homoeostasis for business]; general/risk management or accounting practices that “constrain” the system in pursuit of skewed rewards or excessive returns*; misaligned operational structure & IT;  or processes &/or products; product, culture and strategy ambiguity (that hamper information-flow);  lack of “requisite variety”; assumptions or decisions based upon correlations in incomplete or misleading data…all very dangerous for individual financial systems and those connected to it, irrespective of scale or domain.

*the assumption that, because we know (knew) how to manage complicated systems, we know how to do likewise with complex systems is, evidently, wrong and dangerous.

We continue to be limited by our own knowledge, thus, invite disaster. We prefer faux certainty (a projection of the future based upon our past) to the reality of uncertainty and, as a result, when disaster strikes, we are prone to “label” what was unforeseen as unforeseeable…that suggests that we have looked but did not see! When, too often, the truth is that we didn’t look but assumed. Or “overlooked” by failing to utilise the tools available to us. Read more of this post

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). Read more of this post

Risk DNA: how robust yet fragile a system really is!


Experienced business people look at me like I am mad when I use the human body or brain to illustrate how important it is that a business be properly structured!

But I’m not mad, I’ve just taken the time to give it more thought, ask more questions, read more research and to assess the hard quantitative evidence that led me to this conclusion…and I am not alone!

If you can believe me that there is a universality about systems and that, if a single letter in a DNA sequence is missing a person may not be born at all or be destined for a life of ill-health, perhaps you will understand that, the performance of a business system too will be determined by its internal structure. Check this out:

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

I love this quote from the presenter: “the prospect of using the genome as a universal diagnostic is upon us today

Systems that have a “flawed” structure or processes (at nano or micro level) generate risk that can have enormous consequences at macro level, upon the systems with which they are connected or can limit the number/nature of networks with which it can communicate.

As businesses focus upon macro they are ignoring valuable insights.

Too much focus upon managing risk “overlooks” endogenous, often, self-generated risks, that CAN be addressed – making the system more robust. Preferring instead to assume a greater threat from exogenous risks, over which there can be only limited influence or uncertainty – for which a fragile system is ill-prepared!

More lessons from nature: Fragile systems are not resilient.