Survival?:: distinguish between opportunities and threats


Benoit Mandelbrot introduced us to the world of fractals and, low-and-behold, it transpires that, when it comes to dealing with complex systems such as the human body, the smaller the scale of our investigation the closer we get to the root cause of a problem. Our success-rate when it comes to dealing with diseases that, unseen, attack and erode the system from within, has increased exponentially.

Why, then, does the “business world” chose to ignore such lessons? Preferring instead to try to estimate what the future might hold based upon a fuzzy image of the present and a black & white image of the past. Our technology has evolved whilst much our thinking is mired in a, now past, era.

Whether you believe that business is war (and vice versa) or not you cannot help but be aware that it is the same in the Animal Kingdom as it is in business: those who would do you harm have evolved camouflage that enables them to merge into their surroundings and get as close to their intended victim as they can.

If your vision or other senses are impaired or the predator uses the environment to their advantage you are easy prey…THINK ABOUT IT AND ACT!!! Lose the blinkers.

Question what you know, how you know it, who you trust, their motives, the basis of their knowledge. If they can’t provide you with a High Definition image of that which you seek to observe, you may have been fooled their camouflage OR be sleepwalking toward oblivion with your only comfort being that you will be far from alone!

Ontonix don’t do sleepwalking: Rate-A-Business

How can you become a reframer and continuously practice mental model innovation? As Nooyi and Immelt did, you first need to change the lens through which you observe and interpret the business world — a world that’s getting increasingly complex. To use a metaphor from photography, you can’t capture nor appreciate the full richness and complexity of the physical world if you only take snapshots using a still camera with a fixed 2D lens — and do it only during the daytime. Rather, you need to train your mind to act as a sophisticated “mental camera”…

See Innovation Opportunities with an Upgraded Mental Camera – Navi Radjou, Jaideep Prabhu, Prasad Kaipa, Simone Ahuja – Harvard Business Review.

Insurance Industry:: Innovation, transformation or failure


If you have visited my blog before you will already know that I have spent some considerable time researching and commenting upon a wide of topics that, although many within insurance fail to see the connection, are related directly related to the insurance industry.

In truth, my work was initially prompted by concerns (a deep dissatisfaction may be more appropriate!) about how the insurance (particularly broking) operated: structure; culture; regulation; remuneration levels; use of IT; cover; pricing of RISK. It was only as I delved deeper into the subject matter, a form of ‘root cause analysis’ [RCA] – causality being particularly pertinent to insurance! – that I came to fully appreciate HOW DANGEROUSLY LIMITED the understanding and application of a probability-based assessment of risk truly was. Especially when the business environment has, fundamentally and irrevocably, changed.

If a future event will take place, it will do so irrespective of the probability that we may have attached to it. If an extremely  unlikely event will happen, it’s probability of occurrence is already 100%

Having been introduced to Complexity (by Dr Jacek Marczyk, Founder of Ontonix srl) and it’s relationship to risk and uncertainty my RCA led me to investigate from a (more rigorous) scientific and mathematical perspective. Eventually into the realm of the behaviour of Complex Systems and, inevitably, to Systems Thinking. Gradually, the understanding, that comes from viewing life and work through the Systems lens, revealed that much of what is wrong with Financial Services stems from unnatural interventions.

Read more of this post

How Crises Model the Modern World


Crises are our new reality. “Black swans” are increasingly becoming the norm; our systems, environments, contexts are structurally prone to crises. Doing more of the same will not be the appropriate way to deal with modern crises: a paradigm shift is needed, based on a more accurate understanding of the dynamics of complex systems. This paper is an invitation to change the theoretical vision of crisis and crisis management, and the education and training of all actors involved.

Global Crises… is a paper that could, very easily, have ended up as an exercise in mental masturbation BUT it is so much more than that. Read it and you will learn!

In physics, the Lyapunov theorem on stability of systems states that “In the vicinity of its equilibrium points, the solutions of a non-linear system are similar to the ones of the equivalent linear system”. This means that as long as your system is near its equilibrium point, you can use the techniques usually used for linear systems to get answers on the behaviour of the non-linear system. It is a non trivial theorem that can explain why techniques in risk and crisis management could still be used quite effectively during the previous decade or so, even though complexity had already become increasingly apparent.

However, the need, in the current framework of crisis management, for adding more and more
parameters to describe the behaviour of the system should have been a clear indication that something had changed. One cannot hope to describe a nonlinear dynamic system with a patchwork of simple parameters.

A non-linear system implies, in most cases, unpredictable behaviour, such as the inversion of the Earth’s magnetic field in physics. We must now prepare for the unexpected, and not predict the predictable. We must be more creative, learn to be surprised, and to act rationally and creatively during the phase of ignorance, information surge and shock.

Business Fractals: THE MEANING OF COMPLEXITY


When it comes to being trained or gaining a hands-on understanding of business management I doubt that much thought ever went into considering the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics!? But, then again, much of what is still taught (and therefore understood) about business management requires such a radical change of mindset (&/or revisiting cybernetics/VSM) that only something akin to transformation will suffice. Because business in the Digital Age has changed…permanently!

The nature and scale of change, over the last half century, has been dramatic. The inter-connectedness and pace of change has accelerated during the last decade. Yet, we continue to take so much for granted that we have kept faith with tools and techniques that lack the requisite variety to deal with the business systems they are intended for. Furthermore, Business Management, like Risk Management, Actuarial science and Economics, were never sufficiently rigorous to be considered as remotely scientific. A point that has been illustrated time and again but, unsurprisingly, practitioners find the facts somewhat difficult to accept. Hence the business as usual mentality with the ongoing problems it creates! Read more of this post

Still not sure why complexity is such a big deal?:: You won’t be after this – "RSA Animate – The Power of Networks"


Understanding complexity is a major advantage in the Digital Age. Measuring and, dare I say, managing complexity is the first step to achieving the simplicity that Einstein spoke about…this is where the ability to transform failing “models” comes from. This is powerful knowledge and we, at Ontonix, want to share it for the good of us all. It is Our Mission

From, before, our earliest days to today, complex networks are in and around us