[adaptation] [balance] [ceiling] [change] [crisis] [critical mass] [culture] [demand] [dialectic] [differentiation] [displacement] [leverage point] [maya] [meddle] [paradigm (shift)] [perestroika] [sea change] [tradition] [unresolved remnant] [wu wei]
|Adaptation changes the system and/or the environment to improve the alignment or fit between them.|
|Adaptation changes the system and/or the innovation
Hedonic adaptation refers to the way that adaptation influences
- and is influenced by - the contours of pleasure in the system.
This is the basis for an innovative approach to change management and technology
change management, which is being pioneered by Veryard
“Many years ago, Sir Ronald Fisher noted that every biological system had to face the problem of present versus future, and that the future was always less certain than the present. To survive, a species had to do well today, but not so well that it didn’t allow for possible change tomorrow. His Fundamental Theorem of Natural Selection said that the more adapted an organism was to present conditions, the less adaptable it tended to be to unknown future conditions. We can apply the theorem to individuals, small groups of people, large organizations, organizations of people and machines, and even complex systems of machinery, and can generalize it as follows: The better adapted you are, the less adaptable you tend to be.” [Gerald M. Weinberg, The Secrets of Consulting (New York, Dorset House Publishing, 1985) pp 29-30]
A normal ceiling prevents you seeing what's above your head.
A glass ceiling allows you to see what's there - but you can't
see what's stopping you reaching it. Among other things, this term
is used to denote practices that seem to prevent certain categories of
employee - such as women or members of ethnic minorities - from reaching
high office. These practices cannot be directly seen, but their existence
is inferred (or alleged) from their apparent effects.
|veryard project papers||The Give and Take of Information|
|Internet Links||the notion of strategic ceiling is taken from Philip Boxer - see papers at Boxer Research Ltd|
|change as path||Going from a current state (AS-IS) to a desired state (TO-BE) - immediately, in a series of linear steps, or in a roundabout fashion. This is a programmatic notion of change.|
|change as maze||Navigating a complex space, where each place or state gives you access to certain other places or states, and visibility of some further places or states not directly accessible. This is a topological way of conceiving change.|
|change as landscape||A hybrid of the first two notions - in which certain paths are "downhill" and others are "uphill". This leads to a hedonic approach to change, which also includes notions of pleasure and resistance.|
|Veryard Project Papers||Demanding Change|
|Veryard Project Papers||Crisis Management|
Critical mass involves not just a given size or quantity, but a given density of interaction between events. This either requires physical proximity or some form of network.
With a barbecue on a windy day, there is a stage where the matches keep blowing out, and you have to fuss over the charcoal with lighter fluid. Then the barbecue reaches a stage where it is going to stay alight, and you can leave it burning and go get the sausages.
People often refer to critical mass when they are describing or planning the take-up of new technologies. This is particularly relevant with network technologies, such as fax or email, where the value of the technology to one user depends on the number of other users. When plotting the graph of such technologies, there seems to be a point where the usage suddenly goes up exponentially - and this is supposedly where a critical mass is achieved.
|veryard project papers||component ecosystems
component ecosystems (pdf)
|Internet Links||if you search for critical mass, you'll find lots
of websites about bicycles and traffic: www.critical-mass.org
There is also a pop group: www.critical-mass.com
For more serious stuff, see the Critical Mass Energy Project
Primo Levi tells an anecdote of a barrel of sawdust that suddenly caught fire. He continues … “An apparently inert mass forgotten somewhere, in an attic, a cellar, or a dump, suddenly, under an almost always unknown stimulus, ‘remembered’ that it possessed energy, that it was out of balance with the environment, in short, that it was in the position of that billiard ball on the shelf. The contours of this fragile stability which chemists call metastability are ample. Included in them, besides all that which is alive, are also almost all organic substances, both natural and synthetic; and still other substances, all those that we see change their condition of a sudden, unexpectedly: a serene sky, but secretly saturated with vapour, which in a flash becomes clouded; a quiet stretch of water which below zero freezes in a few instants if a pebble is thrown into it. But the temptation is great to stretch the contours even further, to the point of enclosing in them our social behaviours, our tensions, all of today’s mankind, condemned and accustomed to living in the world in which everything seems stable and is not, in which awesome energies (I am not speaking only of the nuclear arsenals) sleep a light sleep. [Primo Levi, Other People’s Trades (Penguin: Michael Joseph, 1989) pp 98-99]
The definition of "culture" is therefore negative and constantly shifting. It's not that … and it's not that either.
Veryard Projects coined the term Demanding Change to denote the recursive loop (vicious circle):
Differentiated security means subdividing the population into small
differentiated clusters. At the extreme, each individual belongs
to a different class. This makes it much more difficult to scale or replicate
attacks, since each cluster/individual has a different security profile
and there should be no common weaknesses.
The role of the consultant may be to help navigate the labyrinth, or to find ways of altering the topology of the labyrinth itself - reframing things so that they become possible (or no longer possible).
Security can be viewed in similar terms.
|Internet Links||Places to
Intervene in a System
Donella H. Meadows (Whole Earth Review, Winter 97)
Alfred Korzybski (founder of general semantics) called this “the illusion of mistaking the map for the territory”.
Maya can also be defined as the creation of form. It relates not only to the endless play of forms and the void from which it springs, but to the dangerous attachments people tend to develop in relation to their conceptual maps of the world.
|Veryard Project Papers||Fallacies and Illusions|
A typical example of meddling is where a process is subject to statistical variation, and attempts are made to forcible reduce the variation, or to counter an increase in variation, without understanding the cause of the variation itself or the cause of the increase. Deming and his followers argue that such attempts are usually ineffectual, if not counter-productive.
Although there is a great deal of insight in Deming's argument, and many well-documented examples in the quality literature, it is difficult to be sure whether something counts as a meddle or not - it's a judgement based on a critical appreciation of both the system and the intervention. Meddling is what other people do. (Our interventions don't count as meddles because we understand stuff that other people don't understand.)
|veryard project material||Reasoning about Systems (pdf)|
It is as if an enlightenment scientist declared eager adherence to Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler and Newton, but continued to use Ptolomeic methods for calculating the positions of the stars, out of sheer habit.
Many of the so-called paradigm shifts are indeed no such thing. But in some cases, there are opportunities for radical shifts in thought patterns and working practices, which are resisted, or simply unavailable.
There are two complementary reasons for this. From the supply side, the new ideas are confusingly presented. There are some people who do understand how radical the new ideas are, but who choose to present them as safe increments to existing ideas, or as natural extensions to existing products. There are conflicts as to whether it is better to use new words for revised concepts, and which discipline should dominate the terminology. And there are many false gurus. From the user side, there are many pressures and temptations inhibiting change. The early adopters are impatient to get into the new area and are reluctant to think it carefully through; the late adopters will be reassured by the obvious lack of revolutionary change made by the early adopters.
Meanwhile, apparently working entirely independently from this phenomenon, the embodied experience of technology is changing. Gradually people (even IT people) get accustomed to GUI interfaces instead of 3270 screens. Gradually people start to experience the weirdness of the internet. Eventually a cognitive realignment takes place, and a genuine paradigm shift takes place, usually unannounced.
The agent of perestroika is known in Russian as a Perestroichik. (The
original Perestroichik was of course Mikhail Sergeievich Gorbachev.)
|Internet Links||Party Plenum definition of Perestroika|
On the surface, the sea alternates between violent storms (The Tempest) and peaceful innocence. Tides ebb and flow. Molecules of water and ions of salt are sometimes tossed around but remain whole. Deeper and longer-term, oceans are largely unaffected by storms. Meanwhile, defences against the sea are broken apart, coastlines are redrawn, and objects exposed to salt water are quickly corroded; bright but lifeless metal, for example, is turned to a rich green. “These are pearls that were his eyes.”
Within software engineering, this rhetorical practice has itself become
a tradition. New tools and methods are sold against an exaggerated baseline
of incompetence, indiscipline, inefficiency and superstition. Hard-working
professional software engineers rightly feel themselves maligned by this
This is related to Gerry Weinberg’s principle, that a consultant should aim for 10% improvement.
The concept of Wu Wei is central to Daoism (Taoism), and may be translated as NoAction or NonDoing, or as follows.
|"Readiness to act the part in the phenomenal world assigned to man by time and his surroundings."||Richard Woolheim|
|"Acting in accord with context."||Douglas Flemons|
|"Taking no unnatural action, not produced from causes."||Wing Tsit-Chan|
|"Practically speaking, it means without meddlesome, combative, or egotistical effort. It seems rather significant that the character Wei developed from the symbols for a clawing hand and a monkey, since the term Wu Wei means not going against the nature of things; no clever tampering; no Monkeying Around."||Benjamin Hoff
The Tao of Pooh
The Daoist ideal of taking no action (wu wei) had a strong appeal
to the Legalists, because if laws worked effectively at all times, there
would be no need for any actual government.
|veryard project papers||Quality and Eastern Thought|
|Internet Links||Tao Page
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