Complex Adaptive Systems

Self-organization, which I just wrote about, is only one of the ideas that contributes to the success of complex adaptive systems.

While I am not convinced CAS (complex adaptive systems) have been fully figured out, the idea has a lot to add.

In fact, the idea in science is that E=MC(2) is only a working hypothesis (as are all the so-called scientific laws), and soon to be revised — although soon might be 1,000 years.

In any case, I think anyone working with creative teams must be studying CAS and self-organization.

Another key related idea is Knowledge Creation. We cannot talk about this too much.

In our businesses of new product development, the key thing is the amount of good new knowledge created per unit of time. Good, in overly simple terms, means high Business Value and it works (along with lots of other constraints).

I think self-organization is key to high levels of knowledge creation. As anyone who has done brainstorming knows, you cannot command-and-control creativity. Or, if you do, you should expect very low creativity, creativity smothered in a prison jump suit.

I think CAS and knowledge creation are key to better Scrum Teams. This leads me to: Our biggest impediment is refactoring our wetware.

One of my missions in life is to reduce and reverse de-humanization. (Sounds quite high-minded and daunting, but it is not; it is just a daily struggle, like brushing one’s teeth.) De-humanization is where people are not treated as being fully human, with all the good and bad and other stuff that implies. Where, for example, they are treated like a thing, maybe like a computer.

I am not in love, as a lover of words, with words like ‘wetware’ that take a computer model to explain the human CNS or mind, but, if it makes you happy (as the song says).

Our view is that the CAS ideas put our minds in a position to treat people better and to allow them to self-organize and be successful against great odds.


P.S. Takeuchi and Nonaka, the godfathers of Scrum, have spent much of their later careers studying knowledge creation. I recommend them.

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