BEYOND RESILIENCE: THE POWER OF CONSILIENCE IN NETWORKS ( Updated)
A while back, Dr. Barnett
and Critt Jarvis
entered in to a "strategic alliance" between The New Rule-Sets Project
and Enterra Solutions
, which is the baby of Stephen F. DeAngelis
to develop " Enterprise Resilience Management"(TM). It would seem to be at once a concept, a service and a systemic software tool for organizations to efficiently manage dynamic changes in regulations, security, information flow and market environment. From Enterra's website:"Resilient organizations turn security, compliance, information integration and business process management from non-strategic cost items into the strategic components of a sustainable competitive advantage. The positive benefits of Enterprise Resilience Management™ range from increased valuation, marketability and corporate responsibility to a lower cost of insurance and lower total cost of ownership. Additionally, ERM assists in lowering potential damage to an organization's reputation and critical assets. This helps to create internal controls and solutions that protect senior executives and organizations from legal liability."
The target demographic are corporations, government agencies and militaries. I'm not qualified or familiar enough to discuss the software aspect but I find the focus on " Resilience" to be very important conceptually. DeAngelis has written about his ideas on cultivating organizational resilience here
. Like Tom, DeAngelis is a visionary writer so his pieces tilt toward shifting your perspective on old worldviews and like Dr. Barnett he understands that freely evolving complexity in systems has significant ripple effects - hence his making " resilience" the core of his philosophy.
Why is this important ? " Resilience"
in free scale networks
refers to how resistant the network is removal of its nodes ( removing a node lowers the efficiency of the network by increasing the distance between nodes or disconnecting them entirely). Corporations, government agencies - all groups in fact - are networks. Because most formal organizations in American society still carry the structural and cultural legacy of the industrial revolution they tend to be hierarchical, vertically-organized, culturally-rigid and are less than resilient. Take out key actors - the " nodes" -and institutional paralysis ensues. Possibly collapse.
So the Enterra-NRSP partnership is really selling network efficiency and survivability. In PNM terms, engineering a robust defensive capability against System Perturbations
that would allow an organization reeling from cascading effects to " bounce back" from an attack. As I said earlier, resilience a key concept and quality in terms of importance. But what about...offense ? Or expansion of the network or the network's radius of influence ? What about structuring an organizational network to gear its behavior, culture and strategic thinking in terms of "Consilience
" as well ?Consilience
was a term rescued from obscurity by Edward O. Wilson
, the famous sociobiologist in his book
of the same name
that means a " jumping together" or unity of knowledge. Consilient thinkers look for the common underlying Rule-sets in disparate phenomena ( all phenomena at their most ambitious) - like Horizontal thinkers
they are seeing connections across domains but the interests of Consilient thinkers are directed at the root level - the fundamental laws, principles and axioms applicable to all domains. In Wilson's words:"The trend cannot be reversed by force-feeding students with some of this and some of that across the branches of learning; true reform will aim at the consilience of science with the social sciences and the humanities in scholarship and teaching "
You can't get a whole lot more horizontal than that ! What would be the advantages of building " Consilience" in to a network's structure, system and culture ?
- Survivability: Like resilience, a high degree of consilience in a network would be likely to improve the network's longitudinal prospects by adapting efficient non-zero sum Rule-sets.
- Influence: By adapting principles, practices and concepts that other networks find analogous to their own, the message of the network has more memetic appeal by virtue of being more readily comprehensible.
- Compatibility: As with communication and influence, common Rule-sets make potential cooperation, alliances and mergers with other networks more likely as well as more harmonious.
- Adaptability: Members of networks with a consciously consilient culture are more apt to themselves become better horizontal and creative thinkers. Their OODA cycle may be faster because they are all - collectively and individually - seeing farther and to wider horizon.
How consilience would be designed in terms of software applicatons is something far beyond my ken but it would seem to be a fruitful conceptual field to explore.
Jeremiah of Organic Warfare, who consistently has interesting material and provocative opinions on his blog, is on a related tangent here.