Re: Is speed/technology really progress? LO39

From: John Conover <>
Subject: Re: Is speed/technology really progress? LO39
Date: Wed, 8 Feb 95 12:31 PST

Tobin Quereau writes:

 > I had one hesitation, however, in associating "complexity" and survival in
 > a business or organizational sense. Some of the most "complex"
 > corporations are finding it absolutely necessary to "simplify" in order to
 > survive these days.  Perhaps what Csikzentmihalyi is pointing to is not
 > "complexity" (i.e.  bureaucracy and size) in and of itself, but more of an
 > "openess and engagement" with a wider range of external and internal
 > stimuli. In other words, the organism must still remain flexible and
 > responsive enough to the environment that it adapts to changes that occur
 > rather than being too resistant and rigid--what Piaget refers to as a
 > "dynamic balance" rather than a static and structural one.

Hi Tobin. As a matter of formality, the term "complexity" has to be
qualified. The opposite of simple is not necessarily complex. For
example, some very simple systems can lead to very complex
behavior. The converse can also be true. Just as simple, illustrative
cases in point, the "three body problem," (Poincare, et al,) is just
three planets and nothing else in space. Although the the defining
equations are simple and deterministic, the system leads to some very
complex behaviors, which are largely unpredictable. Likewise, some
very simple (but surprising,) behavior can arise out of very complex
systems, like molecules in a chemical reaction (Prigogine, et al,)
that lead to some kind of emergent, or self organizing, behavior, like
oscillating color changes over time, (which would tend to contradict
the concept of entropy, at first consideration.). One of the big
questions in human organizations concerns whether or not emergent,
self organizing, behaviors exist, or probably more importantly, how to
control them (or whether they can be controlled, for that matter, and
if they can, how do we do it.) Can an LO exhibit self organizing, or
emergent behavior?


John Conover,,

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