Sunday, August 9, 2015

Three Aspects of Digital Balance

The human virtue of adaptation, evolution, and being ‘novel in finding solutions’ will see us through even for many more centuries.

Nature and human societies are a ‘complex adaptive system’ inhabiting interacting agents that adapt to each other and their environment. It is a nonlinear, dynamic and open system in a thermodynamic sense. Unlike closed equilibrium system, it hence spontaneously self-organizes; generates patterns, structures and complexity; and above all, creates novelty over time. Either from nature or business perspectives, how to strike the great balance of such a complex and dynamic system, though?

The balance of micro vs. macro perspective: The problems with micro and macro as a starting point are that it does not implicitly help people differentiate between "thinking about systems" and "thinking in systems." The universe is an inter-mix of micro and macro entities and every aspect of it is characterized by duality. The human thought process is controlled and limited by internal and external factors. When we do macro-thinking, we invariably leave out micro-thinking and vice-versa. It is possible to think about systems from a micro and macro perspective in a systematic fashion, you cannot observe what you do not know. Recognition cannot function without cognition. The problem is with having the ability to reflect over how you make sense of something - to reflect your process of sensemaking as a way to query the relevance and boundaries of the prejudice you have used in your judgment process. In this way, you can see the trees without missing the forest; understand the big pictures without ignoring the significant details.

The balance of leading and following: The very concept of 'leading' implies that leaders and followers are trying to move somewhere, with the leader making more of a contribution about the direction of that movement. Does this also imply that the direction: the vision is one the follower shares with the leader? With today’s uncertainty and ambiguity, the needs of the individuals' participating and collaborating should somehow take into account, but leaders should have abilities to discern, analyze & synthesize, and make a fair judgment in order to make the right decisions based on the often overloaded information. And followers shouldn’t just ‘blindly’ follow their leaders, they have to practice independent thinking and critical thinking, actively participating and engaging in knowledge sharing, to be the leader in their own knowledge domains, to discover the purpose and master the expertise as well. If there is mutual respect between people, it makes a lot of difference. Most of the times, people are disrespectful because they themselves are not being treated with respect. If their opinions are valued, and if they get dignified responses to their suggestions, they too, will feel good about it. People can be creative and express themselves openly. For that, top management will have to proactively create such a culture of learning and innovation, to strike the balance between leading and following, pushing and pulling, changing and stability.

The balance between orders (standardization) and ‘chaos’ (innovation): Organizations and their people learn through their interactions with the environment: They act, observe the consequences of their action, make inferences about those consequences, and draw implications for future action. The process is adaptively rational, it has to strike the balance of ‘keeping the order,’ and sparking the innovation. Requirements and processes of innovation implementation include
-Know yourself thoroughly.
-Find the possible alternatives to be adopted.
-Study the alternatives and select the best possible implementable alternative.
-Formulate the strategy to implement, considering your present strengths and weaknesses.
-Implement with full belief and faith in yourself. This also requires the strategy of do, check and do. This helps avoid any unforeseen error.

The human virtue of adaptation, evolution, and being ‘novel in finding solutions’ will see us through even for many more centuries. Life itself could be viewed as resulting in emergent means of reorganizing, refocusing and rebalancing resources. In fact, the need of the time is to “better understand evolution and harness its power to serve human purposes” and design the institutions and societies to be a well-balanced system with the abundance of energy and sustainable advantages.


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