ASIDS in collaborative structures

(acute systems-inquiry deficiency syndrome)

january 19th, 1998

this note reflects on how individuals in collaborative situations (teams, organizations, relationships), as a result of deficient system inquiry practices, expose themselves to pathologies which erode their perceptual capabilities. there is a strong analogy here between today's systems' inquiry/management practice and pre-pasteur medical practice; the latter being guided by the theory of in-situ 'spontaneous generation' of infection rather than bacterial 'network' and the former being guided by 'euclidian' closed system theories rather than by non-euclidian 'evolutionary flow'.

incomplete understanding of complex systems and the evolutionary consequences of our interactions with such systems can give rise to pathologies which erode our pattern recognition abilities. the ability to recognize patterns characterizing complex system behaviors is vital to our management or 'steering' of these systems. incompleteness in understanding systems behaviors also leads to the development of problem-solving approaches which exacerbate rather than relieve the pathologies --- a vicious cycle.

for example, in the hygiene and bacteria metaphor, an observation of proportionality between infection and surgery duration, in the absence of awareness of a bacterial source to infection, might have led to efforts to expedite surgery by having several surgeons work in parallel. several pairs of unclean hands in the wound, while reducing surgery duration, would increase the risk of infection.

the parallel in the case of dysfunction (pathology) in social collaborative structures relates to the 'euclidian' nature of the problem-solving approach. i.e. dysfunction emerges from the 'closed form' assumptions (i.e. the assumption of 'sterility' or isolation from external influence) associated with the system intervention rather than with the nature of the system (patient) and the system intervention (surgical technique) per se. in this 'cure is worse than disease' situation, repeated interventions to deal with complications (infection) from prior interventions may exacerbate the problem until 'the patient' ultimately 'dies' (i.e. the collaborative undertaking ultimately dies).

what is intended here by 'euclidian' is that the system is viewed as an assemblage of independent 'closed forms' or 'things' [as in euclidian geometry] which act upon one another in a 'causal' fashion to generate system outcomes. such an approach ignores the non-independence and nonlinearly changing nature of system subcomponents (i.e. 'things') and it ignores the complex nature of cause (e.g. it ignores 'cause' in the form of circular causality emanating from multiple mutually-interfering feedback loops) and instead embraces the simplistic and approximate 'icono-causal' notion (wherein 'things' or 'icons' acting on other 'icons' is the mental model for explaining system outcomes.) the word 'icon' is used here to indicate that we tend, for convenience, to represent a (complex) system (e.g. a human being) by a highly simplified 'picture' of the system.

while the euclidian approximation leads one to think in terms of 'clean' and 'complete' system interventions (as in moving chess pieces), in reality all systems interventions are 'dirty'. that is, all systems are part of an ongoing whole, thus any act is an intervention into the ongoing flow which will inevitably induce ongoing effects or 'evolutionary consequences'. in special cases, we can approximate the system as being independent but in general we must assume that all of our system interventions will have evolutionary consequences which cannot be ignored but must also be managed; i.e. our system management process, in addition to addressing 'objective' and 'subjective' goals [1], must also take into account the evolutionary consequences of the intervention (i.e. the often unintended 'ripples' we introduce into the flow such as birth defects from sleeping pills).

dysfunction which arises from the ignoring of evolutionary consequence, as is innate in the euclidian approach, is the analog of ignoring the possibility of infection from 'dirty' surgical intervention. in 'healthy' systems management, one accounts for evolutionary consequence by adjusting one's actions in the present in such a way as to achieve one's logical and desired goals while at the same time minimizing the 'dissonance' or 'ripple effects' one introduces into the ongoing systems flow via the intervention (e.g. in childbirth, one solves the logical goal that the baby must come out, the desired goal that mother and baby should have a good birthing experience, while at the same time accounting for dissonant, intervention-induced evolutionary consequence by washing one's hands). whether we are speaking of business systems or medical systems, it is clear that repeated 'dirty' interventions to deal with the complications of prior 'dirty' interventions cannot resolve the problem unless intervention 'hygiene' is addressed.

the alternative to the euclidian approach is to view the system as an 'evolutionary flow' rather than an assemblage of fixed 'things' and 'icono-causal' interplay. in this 'non-euclidian' systems inquiry and management approach, the ongoing 'ripples' from system interventions are accounted for by 'tuning-in' to the dynamical patterns and co-resonating with them during the intervention so as to reinforce desired evolutionary consequences and attenuate undesired or 'dysfunctional' consequences ('ripple effects').

the bacterial infection metaphor appears strong, not only as a model for understanding the origin of perceptual and systems management dysfunction in commercial and other organizations, but also with respect to potential therapies. for example, those who are just entering the world of large scale educational, commercial and other organizational situations, alerted to the possibility of such exposure, may take precautions to prevent themselves from becoming infected 'carriers' and also arm themselves with therapeutic skills to deal with the dysfunctions they will inevitably encounter.

in my own case, had i been alerted to this exposure to ASIDS as part of my pre-employment education, there is no doubt that this knowledge would have been enormously valuable to me, changing my own perceptions and systems interventions with respect to; understanding the origins of organizational dysfunctions, avoiding contributing to them, and helping to overcome them.

the roots of the ASIDS pathology:

systems management pathologies stem, in part, from an inordinate respect for the euclidian icons and scripts of authority and power as opposed to the more fluid wisdom and harmonies of the social collective and nature. as wittgenstein has counselled in the domain of language, and poincare in the domain of physics, euclidian structures must be construed as 'ladders' to help us perceive and engage with systems and we must not fall into the all-too-common trap of mistaking the ladder for the system. this, according to the dalai lama, was what went wrong in cambodia, when the khmer rouge community of life-respecting buddhists went on a pathological killing spree. and as many authors have noted, this was also what went wrong in germany and japan in world war II. ASIDS, euclidian demagogues and trust can be a lethal combination.

intuitively, one can imagine that scripted roles and recipes (euclidian 'ladders') are unlikely to be a match for complex processes as are found in nature, and this indeed has been confirmed by twentieth century science in many different ways (poincare, einstein, heisenberg, goedel, prigogine etc.). the degree of systems complexity found in nature is being approached in the domain of global markets as technology and communications open the door to high levels of multivalent interference and the deterministic chaos which results. global market ecologies thread their way through the tapestry of our lives, connecting us to dispersed multitudes of people and events spanning vast regions of space-time. we may eat a hamburger made with meat tainted by handling practices in a packing plant across the continent; catch hepatitus from fruit grown in another country, breathe in diverse ethnicities of bacteria on transcontinental flights, develop dependencies on products from petroleum discovered a century ago on the other side of the world, and suffer exposure to rising levels of chemical and radioactive pollution, the accumulated products of decades of myopic systems interventions or ASIDS.

the point here is not the health hazards per se, but to illustrate, by visualizing them in terms of space-time 'tracers' just how interconnected we and our modern systems are and how this interconnectivity is growing. as a 'thought experiment' to help put this imagery into focus, imagine that we are on a space station in a stationary orbit on the dark (night) side of the earth looking down on an individual as he goes through his daily routine. each time he touches anything which has been modified or influenced by human systems (i.e. by making, moving, service, knowledge work systems), a luminous 'tracer' flashes out, as in a laser light show, and traces a path to the global location of that influence. as a first step, we 'calibrate' the system on the basis of the daily routine of a pre-columbus american indian. as he rises and puts on his mocassins, tracers flash out a path to the adjacent valley where his brothers skinned the deer and where his mother cured and chewed the leather, and so on. next, we look at the changing pattern of 'pyrotechnics' over the past few centuries, culminating in a light show produced by a present day professional, whose mere morning ablutions may dazzle us by lighting up a goodly portion of the world; electricity from saudi petroleum, steel from japan, aluminum from africa, product research from europe, cotton from india, electronics from taiwan, advertising from new york, and so on.

the growth of complexity in the connective space-time tapestry of systems interwoven with our lives tends to be fairly transparent, becoming visible only in the case of salient events such as health threats. 'systems interventions', from our 'immersed' positioning in this complex tapestry can be the basis for either the transmission or reception of unintended and undesired 'evolutionary consequences'. it is therefore imperative to cultivate and sustain the health of an effective 'systems inquiry' cabability.

today's health hazards such as air pollution and drug-resistant disease, the result of an ASIDS pathology, are second phase effects. euclidian systems management dysfunction has been with us big time, in a cultural context, since the birth of philosophical dualism (parmenides, 500 b.c.), aristotelian logic and euclidian geometry (300 b.c.). as the psychologist r. d. laing has emphasized, in the domain of culture what we call 'normality' is rife with such dysfunction, and not only do we need to come to grips with it but the opportunity to do so is 'in our face' like low hanging fruit we have to avoid if we choose not to pluck it. my own experience certainly supports laing's assertion, and this is one reason why i am inclined to share my similar perceptions on this 'euclidian' source of this dysfunction in the context of commercial organizations, drawing on years of experience as an observer and participant in both performant and dysfunctional organizational systems.

there is no 'finger-pointing' associated with the views herein presented since the subtlety of this systems' pathology is such as to make it all but invisible to those affected. the dangerous side of this 'subtlety', of course, is that respected authorities and fellow workers may infect newcomers as unsuspectingly as individuals unaware of their HIV-positive status expose their partners to AIDS.

given the subtleness and the destructive potential of this organizational dysfunction-inducing pathology, it follows that young persons who are at the point of becoming functionaries in the world of commerce, education etc. would be well-advised to familiarize themselves with the facts about ASIDS and be on the alert for exposures.

again, the emphasis here is not on biophysical or environmental health per se, but on the health of general human systems (teams, organizations) whose pathologies are leading to a diverse array of unintended and undesirable evolutionary consequences.

how do thoughtful, educated people become 'carriers' of ASIDS?

as individuals, we can't deny our cultural learnings as to how the world works unless we've got something to replace them with. prior to copernicus, honest, wise, respected 'pillars of the community' taught their students and children that the earth was the center of the universe, and it took over a century for the revisions to circulate and be incorporated into the world views of the honest, wise and respected people in the world. today, we are still working on the next revision that THERE IS NO CENTER to the universe (i.e. space is 'non-euclidian'); that it appears as if space is like the surface of a sphere where there is neither a center nor any other landmark features to reference measurement to. this 'thinglessness' which characterizes non-euclidian space (as well as quantum physics and relativity) dictates that locations and shapes characterizing the reality within this space must be 'bootstrapped' from the relative geometries they themselves evoke. this transition from a 'euclidian' to 'non-euclidian' view of space not only explains much of the dysfunction arising from our old systems inquiry paradigm but also dictates the development of a new systems inquiry paradigm such as the three-tiered framework of physicist erich jantsch [1].

of course, if one is in a 'revisionist' mood, one might ask how our retrospective view of wisdom and honesty is altered by the knowledge that new scientific discovery is often not accounted for by the wise and the honest. for example, is the pasteur era surgeon who has not yet heard the story on 'germs' still 'wise' and 'respectable' though he persists in infecting his patients?. or should we blame the educational system?

As Johannes Kepler points out in his discussion of new astronomical discoveries, the 'ripple effect' associated with discovery or creativity is inevitable and while we cannot eliminate it, we must deal with it as openly and harmoniously as possible.

"As regards, the academies, they are established in order to regulate the studies of the pupils and are concerned not to have the program of teaching change very often: in such places, because it is a question of the progress of the students, it frequently happens that the things which have to be chosen are not those which are most true but those which are most easy. And by that division in things which makes different people form different judgements, it so happens that certain people are in error contrary to their own opinion." ... "... so in turn I do not let myself be easily persuaded that this most wise Prince (kepler was 'imperial mathematician' in the employ of emperor rudolph ii) will seek to have all people remain publicly and privately inside the boundaries of academic philosophy; and to have no one labour privately in bringing forward these things, that is to say, in the manifestation of the works of God." elsewhere kepler wrote; "Why waste words? Geometry existed before the Creation, is co-eternal with the mind of God, *is God himself".

kepler's message, in the context of the medical example, asserts that it is neither necessary nor desirable to hold up the adoption of hygienic surgical methods until one can read all about them in textbooks. so the newcomer to the collaborative structure who spots ASIDS type dysfunction as he passes through the portals of the corporate establishment to begin his indoctrination (i.e. his corporate apprenticeship) need not think in terms of conspiracy to corrupt either on his part or the part of the resident corporate surgeons. he might more appropriately think in terms of stepping back into the pre-pasteurian era of medicine when the concept of bacteria was not yet known, where bare-handed surgeons walked directly from autopsy table to operating-theatre and birthing-room, without stopping at the washbasin, or collecting a pair of sterile gloves..

the corporate surgeon will greet you, the newcomer, with a smile, you will trust him instantly as you pick up on his honest warmth and humanity and his wise ways. and you will lay back relaxed on the corporate 'operating table' as he makes his incisions, reaching in to cure you of your ignorance and render you wise in the ways of the business world; .... unless, of course, you are forewarned and forearmed as to the uncleanliness of his euclidian interventions and the risk of ASIDS.

listening to your corporate surgeon, you will hear explanations of organizational dysfunction which have the familiar ring of 'the theory of spontaneous generation' which prevailed prior to pasteur. he will tell you that where organizational dysfunction emerges, the trouble originates with 'in-situ' malcontents or incompetents, while the idea that the corporate surgeons might be introducing dysfunction into the organization and/or surrounding community simply by their systems interventions approach (as opposed to objective and subjective content) is too abstruse a thought to merit serious consideration.

benchmarking on best management practice will also shift the focus towards the 'theory of spontaneous generation' and in-situ sources of dysfunction. for example, the best surgical technique coupled with the best hygiene would show up as 'best practice' in pre-pasteur days, just as the best management technique coupled with the best non-euclidian implementation should show up as 'best practice' in today's complex systems management initiatives. since hygiene was never monitored in pre-pasteur surgical practice and the degree of 'non-euclidian' harmony in systems management is not measured today, it cannot be used to explain why organizations so often fail in their attempts to replicate 'best practice'. the usual explanations involve in-situ, 'spontaneous generation' rationales, such as management or staff incompetency.

in studying high performance teams, it has been apparent to me that ALL have employed non-euclidian system inquiry and intervention approaches, however, the 'non-euclidian' approach was referred to at the time, within the organizational mainstream, in terms of 'management style' --- an issue for 'the parking lot' since different management styles seemed to work in different situations. in all cases, successes were attributed to management practice seen and measured only in terms of the objective and subjective content (i.e. 'icono-causal' or 'euclidian' content) of the interventions rather than in the non-euclidian terms of pattern-recognition, co-resonant (harmonic) interventions and evolutionary consequence.

the euclidian corporate surgeon has no idea that he may be carrying and spreading the invisible source of dysfunction. why should he? he knows that his techniques in general have been steadily improving. he can see this through euclidian 'cause and effect', just as the pre-bacteria theory doctors knew their medical procedures had been improving. while some patients fared poorly or succumbed to biophysical dysfunction (infection), this appeared random and due to in-situ conditions, effecting the weakest patients most of all. without the concept of bacteria, searching for emergent patterns of infection associated with 'bacteria' would make no sense, and energies would be wholly focused on improving surgical practices. similarly in socially collaborative structures, lacking the concept that evolutionary outcomes are highly influenced by the 'hygiene' of the systems intervention, searching for emergent patterns associating with intervention style (searching for the influence of ASIDS infected practices and people) makes no sense and energies are wholly focused on improving intervention content.

while our anthropocentrism may generate a shudder or two as we consider the impact of our pre-pasteur blindness to bacterial source of infection, its useful from the point of view of understanding systems to think about how perfect this arrangement was for the bacteria! free transport to ideal sites for breeding healthy and thriving bacterial communities; free tunnelling through all the protective dermic frontiers, into the interior of a host whose defensive systems had already been seriously weakened or even disabled; an overall scenario of armies of humans working voluntarily and energetically in the service of bacteria --- a truly ingenious arrangement on nature's part from a bacteriocentric perspective.

suddenly, pasteur comes along and the bacteria who have been thriving at human's expense are dealt a nasty blow. the concept of a bacterial transport mechanism for infection was the result of non-euclidian 'bootstrapping'; the extraction of a concept which brings order to an abundance of experiential observations. with AIDS, ebolla, drug-resistant TB and many other new and dangerous strains of bacterial or viral organisms thriving, many as a direct result of our ASIDS epidemic (making us blind to evolutionary consequence), it seems that the bacteria are getting the upper hand on the basis of their natural abilities in systems management; abilities which humans also possess but which we are denying ourselves by cultural prerogative.

being able to respond effectively to creative forces in our environment is fundamental to natural life. our human immune system does not depend on objective logic and subjective judgements as the basis for its response; instead it seeks to preserve the mutualistic resonances which sustain life. humans gifted with logic and subjective feelings, as philosophers such as heraclitus and wittgenstein have asserted, would be unwise to turn all our attention to these useful 'ladders' and turn our back to the view which they have helped to deliver to us. on the level of community, our 'immune' system depends on our 'pattern recognition' ('bootstrapping') and co-resonating ability.

the bottom line on ASIDS is that if you are about to enter the corporate world, be aware that surgery is going to get underway very quickly and will be ongoing. you may be infected with ASIDS before you know it. the time to reflect on this issue is 'now'.



a brief history of organizational dysfunction:

while we may not often think about it or question it, each of us has a 'worldview' and we have an implicit or explicit philosophy about how to be in the world. we were never really taught to probe the nature and origins of our worldview and how these effect our cultural roles and scripts. that is, one of the characteristics of our culture has been to confidently assume the correctness of its own perceptions and philosophies. for example, when our western culture clashed with the culture of the native americans in the colonization of america, we were quick to 'judge' that they were 'savages' while we non-indians were 'civilized'.

this is the same type of 'confidence' which is prevalent in today's business world. dysfunction is seen as something which relates to the inadequacies of others (i.e. others involved in the organizational initiative or business situation), and not to some incompleteness in understanding on the part of we, the corporate surgeons.

imagine how doctors' egos might have played against one another in pre-pasteurian times; those with the best healing records attributing their results to superior skills (when it may well have been mediocre skills and clean hands), and those with the worst healing records attributing their results to the inferior quality of their patients (when it might have been the result of their poor hygiene), while the full story remained hidden by the incompleteness of their knowledge.

it may be worthwhile to look at some of the basic ingredients of our worldview and existential philosophy. one of the ingredients is certainly 'science'. science comes from the latin stem 'sciens' = 'knowing', and 'scientia' = 'knowledge', 'skill'. as heraclitus said, however; 'the learning of many things does not teach intelligence' implying that 'science' or 'knowledge' is unlikely to be the determinant of how performant or dysfunctional our systems are going to be.

if we look at the etymology of the word 'system', we see that it comes from the latin and greek (e.g. the phonetic greek is 'sustema') meaning 'organized whole'. this sounds like it is getting closer to what we need, to equip us for inquiry into the source of performance or dysfunction in systems (e.g. commercial, social, familial etc. systems). interestingly, we are not taught 'systems' in school and it is only recently that we see books such as peter senge's 'the fifth discipline' (senge equates the 'fifth discipline' to 'systems thinking') which implore us all to start thinking in terms of systems, so as to avoid the unintended engendering of dysfunction.

it has been my experience that corporate surgeons rarely have either a knowledge of, or serious interest in systems concepts as are presented in 'the fifth discipline'; i.e. deliberated approaches to understanding the 'organized whole'. they are content to proceed on the basis of their accrued experiential knowledge. however, if they have served their apprenticeship in an ASIDS infected environment, their knowledge base is not likely to equip them for systems interventions which comprehend and address 'the organized whole' and its potentials for unintended 'evolutionary consequence'.

historically, some of our most respected corporate surgeons have installed asbestos in our homes and schools, sprayed ddt on our gardens and farms and sold tobacco to young and old. but when it comes to systemic dysfunction, we can't confine our finger pointing to the corporate world. today, we as investors respect and applaud those corporate surgeons maintaining the largest profit margins while we as workers attack the practice of achieving these results through investment in lowest cost operating environments; i.e. we invest in those companies whose workers bring about their own redundancy as they share in the fruits of their successes. in other words, our interventions in the investment markets fail to consider evolutionary consequence; i.e. ASIDS infected behaviors are manifest even in our own personal activity patterns.

only in retrospect could we be revisionist and say that 'we' and the respected figures who ploughed forward oblivious to evolutionary consequence were lacking in wisdom or respectability (i.e. were 'short-sighted' and 'ethically questionable'). in the present, in our continuing state of relative ignorance (i.e. we can't be guided today by tomorrow's insights), we, and the corporate surgeons coming to operate on us may be unaware of their/our degree of ASIDS infectation.

there is a way, of course, to protect ourselves from this contamination to a far greater degree than we have managed heretofore. in the terms of the systems inquiry framework of erich jantsch, it is to shift gears upwards from 'pattern-making' to 'pattern recognition'. that is, our experiential way of being in the world (corporate or social) has been heavily based on 'roles and scripts'. today, we search for the most definitive of these 'roles and scripts' calling them 'role-models' and 'best practices'. we encourage everyone to study these 'icono-causal' patterns and to put them into practice. this is what present day (euclidian) corporate surgery is all about.

from a systems point of view, this approach is innately incomplete and exposed to dysfunction. why? because it does not consider the 'evolutionary' consequences of these pattern-making actions in the context of 'initial conditions' or 'intervention specifics'; consequences which may be dispersed in space and delayed in time as were the bacterial contaminations of pre-pasteurian medicine. statistics won't inform us as to what's happening because if the concept of 'bacteria' doesn't exist, we can't capture it in a statistical spreadsheet and ask how many times it (bacterial infection) influences system outcomes. statistical methods are constrained to deducing systems behaviors from the properties of the systems' parts, however, the definition of a 'complex system', the general case in nature, is a system whose behaviors cannot be deduced from the properties of its parts. to understand and to manage on the basis of the 'evolutionary consequence' of complex systems, one must 'bootstrap' the answers, intuiting the ordering principles and patterns which bring many apparently disconnected experiential observations into self-consistent connection.

if we put on our 'systems inquiry' hats, we shall be able to see why neither logic nor statistics nor 'role models' nor 'best practice' scripts are going to touch the contaminants our corporate surgeons are 'carrying' which induce an unpredictable smouldering and festering at seemingly random space-time coordinates --- self-inflicted 'evolutionary consequences' which effect our lives and the lives of family, friends and community in an ongoing and increasingly serious manner (i.e. 'increasingly serious' because of technology-leveraging effects and rising complexity).

from a systems view, the problem is clear and simple, complex systems in nature mutually intervene in a 'harmonious' or 'co-evolutional' manner. the perturbor system and the perturbee system jointly search for a new resonance which accommodates both. that is, there is an innate 'wisdom' in nature whereby competing (mutually interfering) systems seek to harmoniously 'co-evolve'. meanwhile, the man-made, abstract euclidian approach to systems intervention focuses on 'things' and their 'causal' interplay. such an 'ad hoc' view is only valid in confined space-time regions and ignores important resonances (i.e. 'standing waves' which involve large space-time regions) in 'perturbor' and 'perturbee' systems which have naturally established themselves over time. this blunt man-made euclidian intervention thus introduces 'dissonant' evolutionary consequences (i.e. euclidian interventions will introduce 'butterfly effects' which may have dramatic unintended and undesirable effects on system outcomes).

the nonlinear evolutionary consequences of euclidian corporate action, which extend well beyond 'icono-causal' or 'role and script' based effects, are growing in intensity as they are leveraged by technology, communications and globally coherent markets.

such effects are detectable by 'pattern recognition' and are manageable by 'co-resonating' approaches (e.g. as is the case in riding a bicycle where we keep the ten dimensional multivalent system of the bicycle within the bounds of resonance through our co-resonance, simultanously steering or guiding it in a desired direction).

as corporate surgeons intensify their interventions to deal with the complications of prior interventions, the life is drained out of the patient. in the case of collaborative structures, the ultimate result is a 'dead' structure with no 'mind of its own', whose every movement is attributable to continuing surgical interventions. in this 'death spiral', the more intensively that 'perturbor' resources are focusing on detailed 'icono-causal' content, the less they are able to focus on pattern-recognition and co-resonance opportunities. this fundamental systems inquiry constraint, of not being able to simultaneously perceive systems in both 'icono-causal' (particle - causal) and 'resonance' (wave-interference) modes is, in effect, the most general formulation of the heisenberg uncertainty principle (Richard Feynmann, 'Six Easy Pieces'). the message is that the 'life' in a system (natural complex system or collaborative structure) which makes it 'performant' is related to space-time interference terms or system resonances which are absent in a euclidian or 'icono-causal' view of the system.

the suppression of the pattern-recognition and co-resonance capabilities of a system is therefore equivalent to the 'death' of the system. living systems are systems which are in resonance with their own evolutionary consequence; the fern which a constituent leaflet is reaching out to become is the leaflet which is reaching out to become it. that is, the contributing elements in a collaborative substructure must be be both cognizant of, and in resonance with their own evolutionary consequences. translated into organizational terms, the ultimate consequence of the erosion of pattern-recognition and co-resonating abilities, as systems interventions progressively shift towards the short term and material detail (i.e. to the optimization of increasingly smaller regions of space-time) culminates in the 'death' of the system.

moving along from how to kill off the patient, to more positive therapeutic issues, just as in the case of pre-pasteur medicine, there are many problems whose cures can be progressively improved upon by 'ladder' methodologies (in this case, 'euclidian' objectivity and subjectivity). that is, solutions to infection-related problems can be progressively improved upon by improving on the logic and art of surgery. such contributions to problem resolution act together with other influences in a 'multivalent' manner. that is, if the situation is neither prone to or exposed to bacterial infection, the system outcomes will respond favorably to the traditional system intervention refinement efforts. if, however, the situation is prone to infection and is contaminated by systems intervention, systemic dysfunction may subsequently emerge (it may smoulder for a while and then erupt). since our pattern-recognition abilities equip us to detect the natural resonances in systems, we have the option to intervene in a 'co-resonant' manner so as to preserve resonance and minimize dysfunction. viewed this way, our co-resonance and pattern-recognition abilities applied within collaborative structures are the equivalent of a collective 'immune system' which can ward off the pathology of dysfunction and its evolutionary consequence.

in the case of modern organizations, improvements in traditional management practice are contributing to improved financial results (short term system outcomes) and both investment and mainstream management practice is tending to 'track' these short term results. also contributing to system futures, however, are the unknown and unmonitored legacies of 'evolutionary consequence' engendered by euclidian style system interventions. in conventional management terms, there is a question as to whether the financial results came as a result of high quality management practice. it is suggested here that high quality management, which avoids unintended and undesirable evolutionary consequences, will depend on the continued cultivation of pattern- recognition and 'co-resonating' skills. these skills, if applied across the trans-organizational web of collaborative structures, as well as the organization and its immediate stakeholders, can make a positive difference on a global ecological basis. movement in this direction may raise awareness of ASIDS induced dysfunction and trigger therapeutic management responses.

finally, historical inquiry shows that there is a fundamental and unresolvable gap between induced system outcomes (desired or pathological) and the multivalency of actions which engendered them. the unresolvable process which inhabits this gap is, of course, 'deterministic chaos'. as the scope and degree of multivalency in collaborative structures rises, we can expect 'surprises' to emerge with increasing frequency and virility. the human community response needed, therefore, is to improve our pattern-recognition and co-resonating abilities stride for stride with system complexity.

* * *

[1] Jantsch, Erich, 'Design for Evolution', 1975 George Braziller, New York

Return to 1998 UPDATE Page