Re: How would you describe this knowledge failure? #strategy #culture #question

Andy Farnsworth

Hi Stephen,

This is a bit abstract, but I think you're describing the adaptive cycle, commonly used to describe complex adaptive systems like forest ecosystems. I'm working on an article now that relates it to organizational process management.

Resources accumulate through the growth and conservation phases (blue and green above) until growth slows and stability/equilibrium is reached. System resilience approaches a minimum as resources are committed to maintaining stability. However equilibrium is only ever a temporary condition in a complex adaptive system, with agents constantly adjusting to find advantage, and chaos / cycles of large-scale change interacting with "stable" systems. The result of these interactions is an eventual disturbance in the environment, triggering a rapid breakdown in the system (think forest fires). Resources are released, connections are broken, and the system begins (is free) to reorganize (red into orange above).

From an organizational perspective, often a crisis reveals critical weaknesses in the system (think COVID). If leadership has the presence and foresight to recognize a precarious state, it can initiate a transformation or change process. The change team can highlight the urgency and push the system into an artificial release stage.

Happy (so happy) to discuss further if it's of interest!

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