Montreal, February 23, 1999
Dear Science, prodigal son that you are, will you be coming home soon?
Tonight I will be going to Saint Hubert, and I wish you could be coming with me, ... to be there at my side as we engage in shared learning about the harmonies of whole-and-part. I know you could tell me and all of us much if you were here. There will be a speaker on resilient communities and a speaker on community preparedness for Y2K problems as well. Saint Hubert was a community that was badly hit in the ice-storms of 1998. Some people were without electricity for a whole month. I cannot imagine that, ... my electricity supply here in my apartment has been reliable but last night it was minus twenty Celsius and my electric heating can't keep up, ... my thermostat is set at eighteen, which doesn't mean much because its thirteen and a half degrees right now, ... about fifty-six degrees Fahrenheit, and pretty soon I'll have to put on the old LJ's under my jeans.
You know, sometimes I come to places where you've just been and I look all over for you to see if we can talk, but I can never find you. Last night there was a demonstration outside my grocery store, ... they had signs saying that you didn't care about the consequences of your actions, ... that you were making a bunch of guinea pigs out of us all. I know that even if that's true it's not your intention, .... I know that you care, but you seem so distracted right now, so buried in your work. I went into the store and looked at the tomatoes that they were complaining about, ... perfectly engineered tomatos, all in the same size little clusters and all the exact same shapes with perfect little green leaves decorating their stems.
I know you mean well, but its so sad to see you take what you've learned from your own mother nature, extract out the structural part and re-impose it back on her. When I picked up one of those tomatoes, it reminded me of your mother, ... but suddenly I had this terrible thought that now she was tied up, naked and,.... defenseless.
I know you are in a phase where the world of thought, of man-made material things, of law and order, of discipline, of travel and adventure intoxicates and addicts you, ... and you resent your dependency on the home you have come from, .... the domus of your mother nature who is the earth and the ocean and all, ... but I know it is just a phase and I look every day for your return. Where you are now is not your natural home.
Well, I am not slated to speak this evening, and that would be difficult anyhow for me since the meeting is all in quebecois, ... and I will have trouble just to follow the crudest threads of the discussion, I'm sure. I'm really going to try to learn, .. to try to learn the language and the pattern of the community here. In any case, I've appended a brief summary on how I think my studies of teams and 'navigating complexity' relates to the concerns of the community,... in keeping the parts in harmony with the whole, ... as the tendency for things to get disjointed continues to intensify, in case you want to read it.
In fact, I want to share with you, in this note, the thread of my ideas because I know that if you came back home, you could add so much to the cultivation of these beginnings of understanding on the harmony of whole-and-part. I know you're busy working your way through 'stuff' but if you can just button this into the inside pocket of your jacket, .. the one you never use, ... and if you get bored some time, perhaps you could pull it out and have a look. You can call me any time, I'll be here working with the others in the harmony-amplication field, ... the job of living in harmony with oneself, the community and with nature is not getting any easier, and it seems as if the longer you are away, son, the worse it gets.
Here's where I'm at at the moment, and, you know, it all seems to have a very similar geometry to that which you have been going through with your mother, ... that makes me think that the problem will be solved just by you coming home; ... but let me continue.
You know, I was always so interested in how sometimes groups of kids or adults could come into a kind of special harmony and it made everything seem like 'party-time' and everybody got the chores done that they needed to get done at the same time, ... but at other times, ... in fact most of the time, ... things didn't work like that, ... they were far more disjointed. As a result, of course, instead of figuring out how to get back into 'party-time' mode, we would revert to imposing a lot of structure on how we did things, and that was always bloody miserable, but of course it seemed to be better than pure disjointed chaos.
Well, when I did my studies on high performance teams back in '95, ... teams which were not only producing far more than expected in material terms, but which had that same 'party-time' like effervescence and joie de vivre about them, it seemed to me that they had somehow tuned in to the 'harmony of the whole-and-part' because they were not only in an internal harmony, but also in an external harmony with community, friends, customers, suppliers, you name it. The only exception was with respect to those who were jealous of them. You know the types; 'why should they be having fun at work when I'm so bloody miserable', ... or even as Laing mentions; "how can you be having fun when Christ died on the cross for us? ...was he having fun?". Of course, all these teams, which were very rare 'emergent entities' indeed, were reduced to the disjointed or imposed-structure mode by the continual influx of new management and staff, ... a demise kind of like how a vibrant patch reef ecology can be quickly extinguished by an influx of sediment or cold water.
But what came to mind was that there was a kind of rhythm which they got into in their 'high performance' mode which seemed to be the 'harmony-of-whole-and-part' rhythm, ... you get what I mean? It was not like the 'team got better' along a line between worst and best, ... but it was as if there was 'a' rhythm or state which, if you could 'tune in' to it, would take care of the harmony of 'whole-and-part' on all scales, ... the scale of the individual, team, and their environment. And so it seemed to me that there was this mother-son geometry to teams, as well, where the 'mother' mode was where they 'found the rhythm' of whole-and-part and the 'son' mode was the special case where they reverted to imposed structure so that the 'fit' between the parts and the whole was mechanical instead of ecological.
The problem with the 'son' mode, and please don't get angry with me by this characterization of 'son' mode, because I am just speaking in metaphor, as when one says 'male' and 'female' when speaking about hose fittings. Anyhow, the problem with 'son' mode was that this mechanical structure wasn't scaleable, so if you made things work at the level of team production tasks, it induced dissonance at the level of the individual and the environment or community. In fact, if you got one team going well in mechanical mode, chances were that the mechanics of the team of teams in the company was going to be a gear-clashing one, particularly so the more global or dispersed they were in space-time.
So, to me, the 'son' mode of imposed structure was a special case of the 'mother' mode,... that is, the case which was focused on mechanically 'causing' the result you wanted. Whereas, the mother case seemed to be pulled by the purpose of 'harmonious living' itself, and so was much more 'natural', ... so you see what I mean?
Well after this idea came into my mind, then it was natural for me to start asking questions about the nature of mother-son geometries, ... those geometries which were 'inclusionary', kind of like spheres within spheres, where the larger sphere had an outer volume which was independent of the inner volume, but where the inner volume was common to both modes. Of course, when you start getting into this, it's like the study of life itself and reality as a whole, ... but let me tell you anyhow, some of the little 'geometrical tidbits' that I've picked up from the various fields, along the way to understanding the nature of the rhythm of overall whole-and-part harmony. My aim, of course, was to share whatever I could uncover in the hope that it would help individuals, particularly disillusioned youth, ... or communities to get into that 'harmony-of-whole-and-part' mode, particularly in times of much change and confusion, as seems to be crescendoing as we head towards the turn of the millenium.
One of the first things that came to mind in this 'mother-son' geometry thing was the relationship between 'table configuration' and shot-making in the game of pool. Most people focused on the shot-making and if you did focus on it, it seemed as if you were looking at a game of skill with respect to angles and logic, ... one that you could program into a computer, and build a robot 'hustler' akin to the computers which beat the chess pros. But when I looked at it more closely, the pool game, like life, was exposed to deterministic chaos, so no computer technology could get at the description of the ball configuration with enough precision to 'causally' optimize the game, ... there was always going to be unpredictable emergence in the way the configuration 'morphed' and human intuition seemed somehow able to deal with this.
But here again, you had some exceptional players who seemed able to 'tune in' to the whole-and-part harmony of the evolving configuration and this intuitive ability was the 'mother' of their success at pool, ... the 'son' aspect was the successful shot-making, ... getting the angles and logic right and all that.
Now it also occurred to me that this mother-son geometry was just like the mother-son geometry in quantum duality between the 'wave' view and the 'particulate' view; ... that is, the wave oriented perception was via relational interference patterns or 'space-time morphodynamics' if you want to get fancy, and the particle or 'thing' oriented perception was via rational, causal, 'thing'-behaviors which are well describable by Newtonian laws etc. ... And once again this brings out this aspect of the uncontrollable-because-unpredictable mother and the dependent and sometimes resentful son. I know how this bugs you, so I'll try to get through this part as quickly as possible. But the fact remains that what generally emerges from relational interference is not predictable whereas, if we impose our perception of 'things' and causal behaviors on our reality, we make it APPEAR predictable and this gives us a feeling of security. ... Trouble is, while the son, .. metaphorically speaking, is carried away within his rationalist myth, the mother is busy being her creative self and evolving a whole new story.
The geometrical imagery cooresponding to this mother-son situation looks like a sphere within a sphere, with the radius of the outer or 'mother' sphere continually expanding, continually evolving or enlarging the 'story' of life while the inner 'son' sphere is always resisting forward evolution and trying to perfect the contents of what's inside, by means of the imposition of more and more structural detail. Every once in a while, the gap between the outer, creative-intuitive reality, and the inner fabricated-rational reality becomes too great and the imposed structures which are holding the inner radius constant, or 'suppressing evolution', have to collapse and allow the rational story radius to enlarge and catch up with the intuitive or naturally creative 'mother' radius of the outer sphere. This leads to a kind of 'punctuated equilibrium' which seems to characterize evolution as a whole.
So what this says to me is that your behavior is not unnatural per se, if it is not taken too far, because it is following a natural mother-son geometry which seems to permeate geological history, .... but I suppose its a question of making the punctuation intervals themselves follow some harmonic pattern so that the avalanche of dissonance which is eventually triggered won't be quite so massive or catastrophic. It seems that the Y2K time-glitsch thing could be the trigger for an overdo readjustment, so that's what has me putting more effort into the 'community preparedness' or resilience side than on the 'resistance' side. In other words, I can use my energies to help make the reconnection with the community and with nature, or to help 'resist' the readjustment pressure, by not re-engaging with the relational web of interdependencies which interweave man and nature, but instead stockpiling and building the wall higher and more resistant between myself as an individual or 'clubmember' and nature.
So, you can see that I am visualizing 'community preparedness' as something which is really the reciprocal of 'independent individual preparedness', ... the difference is the same as between 'resilience' and 'resistance' or 'fail-safe' and 'safe-fail'.
But I'm taking too long here, ... I wanted to move through this much more quickly than I am. Let's look at another mother-son system, the really 'big mother' and the really 'big son', aka 'evolution' and 'history'.
Ok, we've already got the sphere within sphere inclusionary geometry to describe this, and we can see that the expanding sphere of evolving space-time, as it moves out, precipitates history in its wake. Now, don't be offended by the word 'precipitates' which makes it sound kind of like 'droppings'. If you remember the inclusionary nature of the spheres, it's not like what's 'precipitated' is totally detached and abandoned, .. it sustains its status as an integral part of the overall space-time continuum, because of the inclusionary relationship between the spheres.
But of course, what we'd like to understand better is the relationship between the expanding front of evolution and the material precipitate that forms in its wake. We do have some clues with respect this, ... as for example are in the geometry of the high performance teams which seem to be dancing to the whole-and-part rhythm of the advancing evolutionary front. But anyway, ... we know that if we drill a hole downwards into the earth and pull out a chronostratigraphically layered core, we can get a feel for history, because somehow, everything that 'was' connects with those mineral, plant and animal assemblages, not to mention remanent effects of magnetism, gravity, atmosphere etc. that can be found by implication in the precipitated layers. And we also know that the future always seems to be coming 'over the horizon' rather than from overhead, so the mother-son geometry of evolution and history starts to look like the self-enfolding pattern of magnetic lines of force coming out of, and re-entering a magnet and precipitating ordered 'co-experience' within itself, that order being alignment of molecules within the magnet and on the larger scale of man or earth, the alignment being in the alignment of energy in dynamic equilibria we refer to as 'things'.
Of course, in the case of the magnet, you've got the hysteresis wrap-around effect which is geometrically just like evolution or experience building which connects the whole-and-part. And in the case of the earth, you've got the ecological wrap-around effect which builds experience by connecting the whole-and-part as well. They both seem to be forms of autonomous co-evolution of whole-and-part which have the mother-son geometry, where the mother is unpredictably creative and the son is characterized by the imposing of structure, whether it be in terms of discrete remanent magnetic orientations or in imposition on energy flow of fixed material structure.
So this gives us some different 'renderings' of the mother-son geometry to give some deeper insight, hopefully, into how to get back to the 'navigating complexity' issue in the case of social systems. Again, we can see that it seems to be possible to 'tune in' to the 'mother-dance' rhythm of evolution, and when we do, the whole-and-part harmony seems to work across all scales, individual, team, community, nature. But the 'son' geometry is an imposed structural one, again, and doesn't seem to scale like the mother geometry does, ... that is, if the team or organization is working to imposed structural rules, then there this breeds dissonance at the individual or community or environmental levels. And if we try and impose structure on environmental management, this seems to breed dissonance at the community or individual level, ... so it really seems quite important that we come to understand both the mother mode and the son mode and how and when to use which. And of course, it's not like its exclusionary, ... that is, its not like when we're in one mode were out of the other mode, because of this dual nature or inclusionary aspect, as in quantum duality and the sphere-within sphere geometry. It's instead a question of primacy and 'gender'.
What I'm saying to you son, is that you're still your mother's child whatever you may do, so never think that you've been totally rejected. It's quite natural for you to seek your independence. In fact, what the psychologists say on this is that .."the male child recognizes that it belongs to the male gender long before it has fully separated emotionally and psychologically from the mother. At this point the process of masculinization has not yet been completed. It only becomes complete after the child passes through the Oedipal complex and has internalized the idea of the female and the feminine as other. This is often marked by the rejection of female children as friends. The male psyche eventually develops to the stage where it seeks to possess a woman or women to replace the mother as a source of gratification, and strives to become a member of the brotherhood of the male. At this point gender unification is complete.
So even if you have been going through a bout of rejecting the intuitive and creative, it is really quite a natural process, ... and when you come back into intimate embrace with your mother again, ... it will not be the 'same' mother which gave birth to you, but a new mother. Mother nature spirals forward rather than going in perfect circles, even though we often informally speak of 'the circle of life'. So you needn't be afraid of coming home and unleashing your love for your mother because it will be a new mother who is waiting for you to join her and who wants to make a new son with you, within a harmonious and natural relationship.
Talking about this stuff is not very easy partly because of the limitations of language,... god, i hope no-one asks me a mother-son question at this meeting tonight, ... i feel comfortable in struggling with these self-referential geometries in english, but in french, ... amposseebl!
Excuse my distraction, ... seriously though, language seems to be a major inhibitor of our being able to cultivate a smoother and shorter 'radial' rapprochement time, so as to keep the story radii between the inner and outer spheres from diverging too far and having to suffer a catastrophic re-conciliation. Vygotsky and Wittgenstein seemed to understand this whole-and-part relationship between thought and word very well, as did the traditional aboriginals and their myth-based learning systems. Vygotsky, in fact, used the same 'geological layering' metaphor I just used to describe the historical aspect of language, and how there is a holographic relationship involved. He says "The word is a direct expression of the historical nature of human consciousness" and "Consciousness is reflected in a word as the sun in a drop of water. A word relates to consciousness as a living cell relates to a whole organism, as an atom relates to the universe. A word is a microcosm of human consciousness."
In other words, the word, ... excuse the metapun or whatever, ... as the son of consciousness, is the 'thing' which is holographically illuminated by the interference patterns of consciousness. A 'thing' then, can be seen as the holographical entity illuminated by evolution. This seems to be what is implied in Kepler's third law, R**3 = k*T**2 that is, ... the opening up of space is proportional to the quadrature of complex periodicity. If you combine this with Denis Gabor's point that you can convert two oscillating systems (e.g. the sun and a planet) into a rotating vector by applying the quadrature of the complex signal of the one (the sun) so as to phaselock the other oscillating system (the planet). That's one of the fields I'd like you to work with me on, when you come home.
Be that as it may, it seems clear that the evolutionary space-time relationship is encoded in the ontogenetic, whole-and-part relationships in all living things, as characterized by the fibonacci spiral, and thus provides a potential 'ontogenetic coordinating signal' for 'whole and part'. We can look at this signal in the context of the Zen parable of 'wind, flag and mind'. In the parable, the monk points out that our perception of motion depends con(space-)temporaneously on the object of our attention, its reciprocal space ('negative space in artist's terms'), and the rate at which out mind is changing its focus. As the parable says, as soon as we open our mouths to describe this motion, we are wrong, presumably for the same reason as the three body problem resists analytical solutions (thing-based solutions); i.e. because of intrinsic, relativistic uncertainty in the 'initial conditions' of the three engaging components.
Though we cannot speak of it ("must pass over it in silence"), we have the just-described potential for speech-supported coordination (rather than speech-directed coordination) of our actions through shared perception of ontogenetic time. That is, since the harmony of whole and part in all living things will play out in a fibonacci like manner (i.e. according to Kepler's R**3 = k*T**2 space-time unfolding law), we can expect it this ontogenetic space-timing signal to be 'present' in the unfolding of our 'community story. Thus if we orchestrate a shared viewing of community space-time dynamics (analogous to the 'flag') in the context of interdependent reciprocal (environmental) space-time dynamics (analagous to the 'wind'), since the fibonacci structure should be inherent in our being as well (analogous to the common coherency referencing signal for holographic imaging), our space-timing understanding can be seen as a dependent variable derivable from the combined 'wind' and 'flag' space-time dynamics and thus be used to coordinate our actions on a whole-and-part collaborative basis. In this manner, we 'tune-in' to our own natural 'ontogeny' and that of the community, subordinating linear-time 'structure imposing' to a supportive role.
Lev Semyonov Vygotsky (the 'father' of Russian psychology) and other Russians seem to have had a good feel for the mother-son evolutionary geometry perhaps because of their exposure, through politics, to the 'dialectic'; i.e. the evolutionary progression of thesis, antithesis and synthesis. Of course, Vygotsky pointed out that it was being taken too literally in its Marxist-materialist form. But politics seems to be too overpowering sometimes, also in the area of science and humanity, ... sorry, ... I didn't mean that in a hostile way.
Anyhow, Nikolai Bukharin (1888-1938) used the mother-son geometry upside-down (structure over harmony) in his support of New Economic Policy in Russia which was a kind of blend of socialism and capitalism (both materialism-in-the-primacy geometries of course). Although Nicolai was murdered by Stalin in 1938, the NEP he so ably advocated was still in vogue under Gorbachev in the late '80s and Deng Xsiao Ping into the '90's.
Vygotsky could see that the Marxists had the right geometrics, but that people like Bukharin had it turned topsy turvy, putting the son (matter) as the parent of its own mother (mind). Of course, Vygotsky started off in literature and psychology and was well schooled in the aesthetics of whole-and-part harmony, as in art and literature, his first major publication being 'The Psychology of Art', so while Vygotsky was developing aesthetical, whole-and-part harmony sustaining conceptual models, Bukharin and others were building the machinerey of structurally-imposed dissonance, ... good geometry, but a slight problem on the polarity front (primacy and gender front), as is clear in Bukharin's comments;
"Organic nature grew out of dead nature; living nature produced a form capable of thought. First, we had matter, incapable of thought; out of which developed thinking matter, man. If this is the case we know it is, from natural science is plain that matter is the mother of mind; mind is not the mother of matter. Children are never older than their parents. 'Mind' comes later, and we must therefore consider it the offspring, and not the parent existed before the appearance of a thinking human; the earth existed long before the appearance of any kind of 'mind' on its surface. In other words, matter exists objectively, independently of 'mind.' But the psychic phenomena, the so-called 'mind,' never and nowhere exists without matter, were never independent of matter. Thought does not exist without a brain; desires are impossible unless there is a desiring organism other words: psychic phenomena, the phenomena of consciousness, are simply a property of matter organised in a certain manner, a 'function' of such matter."
Heady stuff indeed, in the material sense of the word, and the same view which Nietzsche had already raised cain about in the domain of philosophy, where he complained about the obvious inversion in the parental polarity of causality and purpose. Nietzsche pointed out that the most fundamental aspect of nature was its self-organizing aspect, or the attributes of 'attraction' and 'repulsion'. The primordial question was therefore not 'what exists', but 'what attracts', and 'attraction', aka elemental 'purpose' seems to be what pulls matter together out of energy, in the first place. And we know from our childhood that when we looked out at the world, our question was not 'what exists' or 'do i exist' which came to Descartes in his abstract adult reflections, but 'what attracts', and we rush over to it as soon as we can without knowing what the hell it is, and if its the cat, we are already into our first co-evolution lesson on how an attractor changes even as we move forward to grab it by the tail.
Meanwhile, Nietzsche, in his angry sounding way, said this about the parentage polarity inversion between causality and purpose in his citation number 627 in 'Der Wille zur Macht' (The Will to Power);
'Anziehen' und 'Abstossen' in rein mechanischem Sinne is eine vollstaendige Fiktion: ein Wort. Wir koennen uns ohne eine Absicht ein Anziehen nicht denken. --- Den WIllen, sich einer Sache zu bemaechtigen oder gegen ihre Macht sich zu wehren und sie zurueckzustossen --- 'das' ~verstehen wir~; das waere eine Interpretation, die wir brauchen koennten.
Kurz: die psychologische Noetigung zu einem Glauben an Kausalitaet liegt in der 'Unvorstellbarkeit eines Geschehens ohne Absicht:' womit natuerlich ueber Wahrheit oder Unwahrheit (Berechtigung eines solchen Glaubens) nichts gesagt ist. Der Glaube an causae faellt mit dem Glauben an [greek letters tau epsilon lambda nu, i.e. 'telos'] (gegen Spinoza und dessen Kausalismus).", (citation 627 'Der Wille Zur Macht')
[which goes something like; "Attraction and repulsion in a pure mechanical sense is, in a word, complete fiction. We can't think in terms of an attraction without any purpose. --- The will to possess a thing or to defend against its power and push back against it --- 'that' ~we can understand~; that would be an interpretation that we can use.
In short, the psychological necessity for a belief in causality lies in the unimaginableness of things happening without purpose; a proposition, the truth or falsety of which, there is now't to be said. The belief in cause collapses with the [emergence of] belief in purpose."]
So once again, as we look around us in western society, and witness its belief in the primacy of causality over purpose, ... we see the son usurping the role of the mother, ... the masculine usurping the naturally creative role of the feminine in an ersatz, mechanical way.
.... And with that, I think its almost past time for me to start getting ready for the meeting, and this doesn't mean intellectually, ... I need to have a shower, or maybe a hot bath since its only 14 degrees in here, and put my wet clothes in the dryer.
I'll append my 'unscientific' abstract on 'navigating complexity' for you. Like I say, just stick in your pocket and one day, if you're looking at one of your genetically engineered tomatoes and feeling sick, ... please pull it out and have a look. I know it needs a lot of work, and I could sure use your help on it.
And no, my essay yesterday on 'co-littoral shores of perception' wasn't assembled around the purpose of sneaking some sexual allusions into the geometry, ... it was simply to try to raise some of these self-referential geometries into an awareness, to generate some shared dialogue on them, and some seem to have more 'emergent power' than others. We know we live in a world of attractors, and the attractors we move towards are partly us, and so they co-evolve with us as we move towards them. That's the nice thing about evolution, its not just a continual recycling of the same old story, as it is in the rational-causal paradigm and I just know that that insight is going to 'trigger' in your head very soon, ... if it doesn't, the metaphor will lose its transcendant flavour and start looking a mite more suicidal.
And by the time you come home, it won't be the same mother you'll see, but a new beauty who you can embrace in a wholly natural and unlimited way.
I look forward to seeing you soon, and if you have any comments to send back on my 'Navigating Complexity' summary, please do send them on to me.
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Return to '98/'99 Update Page and Index of Essays
Like I said, it's ugly, but its a start, and I need your help! Come home soon, please!
Community Preparedness vis a vis 'Navigating Complexity'
'Navigating complexity' connotes an alternative approach to perception, inquiry and collaborative action based on an understanding of complex systems. As such, it does not limit itself to 'solving problems' or 'preparing defenses against unforeseeable problems', but instead seeks always to amplify the whole-and-part harmony in the system, whether this be seen in terms of 'harmony amplification' or 'dissonance suppression' [the latter view assumes an equilibrium base case, and the former, a non-equilibrium base case]. That is, the notion of 'optimization' in this approach, rather than being viewed in terms of 'maximizing' selected parameters or objective functions, comes instead from balancing interdependencies of whole-and-part with respect to a community-envisioned 'shared purpose'.
This 'harmony amplification' approach thus entails a transition away from thinking in terms of 'solving problems'; i.e. a transition away from thinking of emergent system turbulence in terms of problems 'out there' which 'confront' the individual or the community, ....to thinking instead in terms of the individual or community being IMMERSED in 'complexity' and developing collaboration-based resilience to extract harmony from emerging turbulence on an ongoing basis.
In order to transition to the notion of 'navigating complexity', individuals and organizations within the community must develop an awareness of their 'co-resonance' with the overall web of interdependencies emanating not only from intra-community relationships but also from reciprocal relationships with the immersing environment, and using such awareness to evolve effective collaborative responses to amplify the harmonic potentials in the upwelling system dynamics. This will entail a transition from a 'playing football' or 'executing individual plays well' type of approach (i.e. the standard problem-solving approach) to a 'playing Gretzsky- hockey' type of approach or, ... 'skating to where the puck is going to be' (i.e. a non-standard 'co-evolutional', harmony-amplification approach).
In order to approach 'community preparedness' hockey style, the community must develop a shared understanding of 'community purpose' and a real-time view of community dynamics ('the game') in terms of intra-community and reciprocal-environmental patterns of interdependency which modulate the provision of food, shelter, heat, medical, etc. Community members, at both the individual and organizational level, would in this approach continuously monitor flow patterns upwelling on the interdependency web, reconciling them with 'community purpose' by means of selected indicators; e.g. est-ce-que tout va bien avec madame lapierre, est-elle contente?.
The 'navigating complexity' approach intends that collaborative action emerge spontaneously (as in hockey) from the individual's (or individual organization's) recognition of harmony amplfying 'opportunity' anticipated through the pattern monitoring schema. Again, the harmony-amplifying opportunities may be seen either in terms of 'dissonance suppression' or 'harmony amplification', the only difference being whether or not the observer assumes 'equilibrium' or 'non-equilibrium' as the base case.
Community support systems, through continued collaborative action induced by monitoring interdependency-web flow-patterns, will tend naturally towards 'morphogenesis' in the sense of an adaptation of 'identity' of the parts (i.e. adaptation of individual and organizational roles and behavioral patterns). This 'evolutionary' development contrasts with 'optimization' based on 'getting the most' out of the collection of existing parts. Clearly, the adaptive approach will require increased empowerment on the part of the individual (to be granted by the company) and increased empowerment on the part of the company (to be granted by the community) to 'flex' between 'organizational plans' and 'community purpose'-induced response.
In sum, the 'navigating complexity' approach would subsume the community's programs in 'problem preparedness' and 'problem response', within a comprehensive and continuous 'learning system', based on the co-evolving of experiential 'know-how' for resilient support of community purpose in an environment of continuing uncertainty.
This approach is based firstly on the observed practice of high performance, creative teams and has subsequently been reconciled with and validated by, complex systems concepts.
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