Harnessing Complexity

Harnessing Complexity

Language: English

Pages: 208

ISBN: 0465005500

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Harnessing Complexity

Language: English

Pages: 208

ISBN: 0465005500

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Harnessing Complexity will be indispensable to anyone who wants to better comprehend how people and organizations can adapt effectively in the information age. This book is a step-by-step guide to understanding the processes of variation, interaction, and selection that are at work in all organizations. The authors show how to use their own paradigm of "bottom up" management, the Complex Adaptive System-whether in science, public policy, or private commerce. This simple model of how people work together will change forever how we think about getting things done in a group."Harnessing Complexity distills the managerial essence of current research on complexity.…A very valuable contribution to the emerging theory of competition and competitive advantage."-C.K. Prahalad, University of Michigan, coauthor of Competing for the Future"A brilliant exposition that demystifies both the theory and use of Complex Adaptive Systems."-John Seely Brown, Xerox Corporation and Palo Alto Research Center

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make its way from an employer to potential employees in distant towns? How does a gene pool remix itself over time to create and retain genotypes that may be fit for a changing environment? How do we nurture a network of trust that permits informal credit mechanisms to foster trade efficiencies? It is usual in this approach to view the global properties of the system as emerging from the actions of its parts, rather than seeing the actions of the parts as being imposed from a dominant central

prediction in complex settings, • how related themes of complexity have arisen in the physical, biological, and social sciences, • how concepts from complexity studies can be useful in settings whose consequences are hard to predict, and • the main mechanisms and design principles that we identify from complex systems research. Our framework synthesizes these mechanisms and principles into a coherent approach to complex systems. It provides a device for channeling the complexity of a social

consumes, the reaction 110 Harnessing Complexity times of freeway drivers, or the borrowing privileges of power grid regions. These linkages among the artifacts or agents are the means by which events change the probability of future events. While the design principles for systems that propagate stress are not well developed, several ideas do seem relevant. First, the entire problem can be avoided if the elements of the system can be prevented from transferring stress to each other. For

to deny the important differences of detail. Indeed, as we showed in Chapter II, the details have to be studied very closely. Errors and recombining processes depend on those details. And the character of the variation in the system is shaped by them in turn. Making fund-raising calls using your friend’s method is much more of a recombination of strategies than is photocopying and forwarding of a funding request. While the detailed character of copying processes is of great significance, it is

from complexity research that can be applied in response. What makes prediction especially difficult in these settings is that the forces shaping the future do not add up in a simple, systemwide manner. Instead, their effects include nonlinear interactions among the components of the system. The conjunction of a few small events can produce a big effect if their impacts multiply rather than add. The overall effect of events can be unforeseeable if their consequences diffuse unevenly via the

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