December 22, 2008

System thinking - John Boardman & Brian Sauser

System thinking - John Boardman & Brian Sauser

This philosophy points to a fifth element: if you want to get rich, you have to focus on money. What is more, rich dads make money work for them, poor dads work for money.

A pilgrim is making his way on life's journey to heaven. He reaches a fork in the road knowing that one way leads to heaven and the other to hell. At the fork live identical twins, one of whom always lies and the other who always tells the truth. The pilgrim knows this but cannot tell which is which. Both twins know which road leads to hell and which to heaven. The pilgrim can ask a single question in order, then, to be certain which road to take thereafter. What is it? What usefulness, if any, did the or, and, not, and paradox perspectives have in formulating a suitable question?

The Towers of Hanoi puzzle has many facets to it. The form of the puzzle is that there are three poles (or towers) and several discs of different diameter, each with the same sized hole in its center, a hole that enables the disc to be placed on any pole. The function of the puzzle is to transfer neat pile of discs from one pole to another, one at a time, ensuring that at no time a disc is placed on top of a smaller one. The figuring of the puzzle is to create an elegant solution, one in which no mistakes are ever made and the discs transfer is achieved in the minimum number of moves. If possible, this elegance should be captured mathematically or algorithmically.

Freedom is not doing what you want, freedom is wanting to do what you have to do … this kind of freedom is always rooted in practiced habit.

Words not only convey our intent and stir our hearts, they change our thinking, indeed our very lives. They define our journey and nourish us through it; they set a course and a destination; they can both arrest us and propel us.

In Pretty Woman, the delectable Vivian (played by the rousing Julia Roberts) replies to a primitive question from her adopted escort Edward (played by the urbane Richard Gere) with another question. "What's your name?" he asks. "What do you want it to be?" she responds. It is context that tells us her response is not suggesting arbitrariness. It is simply suggestive. He is her client. She wants to delight him. Provide value. Be useful. She already has form and function. Now she integrates them. Model play.

Lyndon B. Johnson once said of Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI, "It's probably better to have him inside the tent peeing out, than outside the tent peeing in."

Scientific method is based on repeatability, refutation, and reductionism.Peer review has been essential to good science, and as long as peers practice community as we argued for above, review works well. Hypotheses survive for as long as they resist refutation, by logic or observation. But the direction of science is always along the lines of reducing complexity to its constituent parts and insisting that phenomena are explicable in terms of the behaviors of simpler parts until those parts become irreducible.

Even the eye of an individual has intelligence—or a form of processing power that gives the eye smartness. So intelligence exists in society, in persons, and in parts of the human body.

But as Steve Johnson wonderfully points out in his book Emergence,23 the colony of ants has no commander, only variously gifted (or designated) ants each following built-in rules of conduct that invoke relationships with neighboring ants. As a consequence, the colony, as a whole, develops patterns of behavior that protect the queen (the sole source of new ants), garner food, and bury the dead. This phenomenon and others like it, which Johnson beautifully portrays with examples of cities and software, are a challenge to the military style of command, one that leaders are taking most seriously, and to other complex systems in which there is no evident prescient commander to look to for direction and orders.

An old farmer dies, leaving his herd of cattle, seventeen cows, to his three sons. The will states that his firstborn should get half of the herd, the middle son is to receive exactly one third, and his youngest boy is left with one-ninth of the cows. The sons, who wanted to avoid fractional cows, could not figure a way out

"Keep It Simple, Stupid!" The principle roughly corresponds to Occam's razor and Albert Einstein's maxim that "everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler." Stephen, H., Wharton on Making Decisions, Wiley, New York, 2004, p. 137.

Einstein's remark that "in the brain, thinking is doing" is helpful.

Sir Winston Churchill once said, "I am sorry to write you such a long letter; I did not have time to write a short one." He eludes to the complexity of abstraction and encapsulation. And so he should. Nor should we think that traveling in the opposite direction is easier. The business of amplification, enlargement, and expansion—in the semantic sense.

The woman tortures herself with vivid imaginings of her husband's secret infidelity and evident indulgences. The man contemplates mild satisfaction of his wife's surrogate fantasies.

Engineers are natural problem solvers, par excellence. They love to solve problems and nobody is better than them at inventing or conceiving solutions. But what stymies them is the lack of a problem. Clearly, if they do not know what the problem is, they cannot start work.

  • It relates powerfully and compellingly to what people do.
  • It yields a business process architecture (BPA) of the enterprise.
  • It can accommodate an extended enterprise perspective, integrating the component BPAs into a system of systems view.
  • It can provide a unique baseline from which to launch development projects.
  • It animates an otherwise sterile library of processes into an active and adaptive portfolio of competence.
  • It provides a benchmark for demonstrating and maturing competence of the enterprise.
  • It affords a unique profile by which human skills, knowledge, and aptitudes can be successfully aligned with tasks.

In their book The Starfish and the Spider,26 Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom compare and contrast two distinct organizational forms. They point out that if you cut off a limb of a starfish, two things happen: first the starfish grows another limb, and second, the limb itself can become a new starfish.

A dictionary definition of paradox is "a statement that contradicts itself."

The paradoxes we have observed from our own studies and experiences

of complexity include the following:

1. Complexity is much simpler than it first appears.

2. Simple things exhibit very complex behavior.

3. Little things mean a lot.

4. Myriad things are closer than we think.

5. Significant things are both vital and obscure.

6. Weak relationships bring strength and security.

7. To those who have, yet more shall be given, and yet to those who have little, even this will mean less.

8. A complex is both a one and a many, simultaneously (perhaps the ultimate paradox).

Tx n Rd

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