Complexity is not chaos, as I have argued before (here), because it has its own intrinsic order. This order, or organization, is self emerging and is originated in the local interactions between the parts of the system. Thus, macro level patterns emerge out of local level interactions.
Does this sound all too fuzzy? just read on.
It might do at first, but look around you and you’ll recognize these processes in everyday experiences – urban life in the city emerges out of the interactions between local communities, and the individuals and groups living in them. Traffic patterns emerge out of the local interactions between cars, buses, bikes and pedestrians. All using the roads system at the same time.
If the emerging self order of systems is an everyday phenomenon, can we make a deliberate use of these emerging orders? could it help us manage complex systems, and make decisions within uncertain complex contexts or even help promote a change that we want to achieve?
Can we use emergence as a tool to help us make sense of complexity? (see more here about using the wrong tools when dealing with complexity)
I believe that we can.
Let us consider just one deliberate example that uses planned local interactions to ‘magically’ produce an emergence of new properties on the ‘global’ level of the whole.
This is the example of a synchronized swimming sport team. This team is made of individual athletes executing their individual planned movements while only directly interacting with a few individuals positioned right next to them. None of them is solely responsible for or can be directly in control of the ‘whole’ which emerges out of their combined dynamic movements.
This emerging organization and self-order has new qualities which can not be attributed or reduced to the specific individual interactions which the swimmers performed. The beauty, grace and inspirational flow which emerges to win the competition are just not reducible to the original local-individual swimming movements.
All of us can think of organizations, groups and teams whose local individual interactions and dynamics create new emerging order at the level of the whole.
Can you think of any that you know?
Think of the local level interactions and dynamics in your case. How do these local interactions impact the emerging whole in these cases? Can you think of any other possible local interactions which might lead to the emerging of a different pattern? Would you try influencing them?
Come on! become your own synchronized team coach.
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