This weeend there was fascinating fragmental evidence, in the form of ‘weak signals’ in the Guardian, that complex adaptive systems thinking may well be about to assert itself as the new paradigm but the early adopters are unlikely to be the business leaders and knowledge managers: From the two major stories of last week:
In the aftermath of the student protests in London the Met Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson said he blamed
Unpredictable movement of some numbers of demonstrators
for the resulting chaos in Regent Street.
A second article quotes Commissioner Brian Paddick as saying:
The protesters seem to have learned, by doing this on a weekly basis, how to outmanoeuvre the containment tactics. They splinter into small groups, running at speed en masse, rather than staying in one group.
A third features The National Campaign against Fees and Cuts who comment:
The strength of the national campaign is that it doesn’t rely on those groups at all. Our activists are basically independents.
Finally onto the Wikileaks story where the hacker group Anonymous, behind the recent cyber reprisal attacks claim:
Anonymous has no command structure… The movement works through “organised chaos” where individuals post ideas and new targets to attack, and wait to see the response. Eventually popular ideas generate action.
Self-organising systems that learn and evolve based on feedback loops, utilising local interactions, attractors and no visible hierachical structure. I wonder if it is more likely for ‘systems’ at the ‘edge of chaos’ to exhibit these evolutionary, emergent behaviours and characteristics.
So is this really the weak signals of a new paradigm? Or is it just my good old coherence in hindsight because I am looking for anything that matches certain patterns of behaviours?. What I do believe is that assuming certainty and predictability is wrong and imposing too much order in these situations may lead to any manner of unforseen/unwanted outcomes.