Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Biologist Mind: How Shall you Perceive this “Organic” Digital World?

Our species is at a turning point that requires a significant adjustment in our evolutionary path.

The world is mechanical in industrial age, because business is running as functional silos to achieve efficiency. But the emerging digital era has an “organic” nature and businesses today empowered by digital technologies such as cloud, social, mobile and analytics are more sociological, so what’re the right minds to run such evolutionary business environment, should you shake an ecology of mind or think like a biologist who studies living organisms, often in the context of their environment?

The interconnectivity of organic systems: To understand the business or the world as a complex adaptive system requires an understanding of how the things have come together, being 'built'. You need to understand these things on an intuitive level, now with insights into the biology and brain research, the scientists begin to understand the physiology of it as well. The organic organization is a “living” thing and purposeful. Here is the bridge: the question is whether meaning affects the evolution of organism, of ecosystem, of mind. It is completely clear that it does. A new meaning that supplants the existing set of meanings and the way they configure relations will at the least flip some genetic switches.

Ecology of Mind is largely about what is qualitatively desirable. An interconnected world with elements sharing a symbiotic relation is in contrast to the reductionist world of Descartes and Newton. But there is surely another dimension. Whichever paradigm (or ontology, as you call it), one might or might not choose the particular approach to work within. For example - even in the so-called reductionist models (frameworks), one might choose to adopt a more joined-up and systemic approach to understanding that world and vice versa for the so-called joined-up one. However, quantity still counts. If you wish to improve something, it is useful to specify what improvement looks like and thus identify some observable attributes. Quantitative metrics (statistics) based on those attributes are useful for comparing alternative tactics/ strategies. Some might think that this is an overly rational approach that is lacking in subjective quality and romance. However, if you become more interested in affect than effect, you are on a very slippery slope, the ecology of mind is analytic, systematic and holistic.

Ecology of Mind: One’s mind directs one’s communication and behaviors. Communication of bodily feelings in a modern society does not have to be 'in person', but can be projected by various means of communication; TV, internet, radio, print. Misunderstandings in communication, either lacking or willfully ignoring the understanding of constructs of reciprocal signaling, is causing most conflicts between individuals, groups, states and nations. It is the foundation for managing a complex adaptive system.

Ecology of Mind: From competition to “coorpetition.” 'Competition' in biology means the cutthroat struggle for life's essentials. Competition may have different connotations and meanings under different situations or context. Competition is part of the natural dynamics of life. It is part of the genetic bias of every living thing in nature as a survival-seeking mindset. There are ample examples of competitive behaviors in the animal world. That is the basis for their survival and thriving lives. However, humans are intelligent beings, and digital is the age of abundance. If we really are as intelligent as we claim to be, we shall have principles and disciplines to discern the positive motivation or negative energy behind competition. Whether we like it or not, as long as humans are unique, their mindsets, opinions, cultures, lives and views etc are equally unique and diversified. That results in both collaboration and competition depending on the context and situations. But many times the competitions turn to be the "one upmanship, superiority" battles. With today’s digital hyperconnectivity and interdependence, it is time to step into the new hybrid era of corpetition (cooperation + competition).

Ecology of Mind: Progress comes from innovative "vision statements"- stories of the future. A truly innovative "story of the future" can literally revolutionize a culture which are the collective minds and habits. And a progressive mind is through learning and reflection. Much of our knowledge is implicit. Implicit knowledge is adaptive, creates schemes and automatic reactions which are necessary for survival. It is largely an associative process based on experience, but from which intuitive concepts can emerge. Implicit knowledge tends to be based on simple one-dimensional cause and effect structures drawn from experience. Because in many circumstances, the knowledge is not accessible (we are not even conscious of it), it is not possible to revise any erroneous notions. Implicit knowledge cannot, therefore, adequately reflect the complexity and non-linearity of the world in which we live. It is simplistic subconscious notion that often does not fit the complex reality that leads to the 'epistemological error'. What's more, as this knowledge is constantly reinforced by experience, and therefore deeply rooted, and furthermore not directly accessible, it tends to be very hard to influence and change. Implicit knowledge often hinders explicit learning when the material to be learned is in conflict with its simplistic subconscious structures and schemes. This also explains, at least partially, the resistance and difficulty found in teaching systems thinking with its often 'counterintuitive' concepts.

The deep problem that reveals is to understand what are the evolutionary pathways implied by switches we don't understand or understand the potential of.In the meantime, our species is at a turning point that requires a significant adjustment in our evolutionary path. Wherever it may lead to, wherever it came from. And a “biologist mind” that can dig deeper into such living organisms (organizations), and the context of their environment (hyperconnected business ecosystem) will have advantage point in managing such complex adaptive system masterfully.


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