I am excited. My months of struggle is almost nearing its end to give birth to something new. I am almost on the verge of completing a book on ‘Why Systems Fail & Redesigning for the Better? – A Nemetic Approach’.
Well, writing a book is something like birthing a baby. I can well feel the joy, worry, agony and ecstasy of women creating life on earth. Unfortunately, being a man I would never feel it exactly as they feel but writing is something similar – a process of creative enfolding and unfolding where intense pure emotions and clear cognition come together to create new flows.
In this post I would like to share a part of that agony filled excitement with you by presenting the Preface (still in draft till publication):
For the sake of simplicity we have classified different type of systems, which are the following: –Simple System -> Wrist Watch: It has many parts but not very diverse, very interdependent and connected but it is very predictable with great accuracy of a few seconds over a year. Nothing funny happens on and off. Complicated Systems -> Computer: Has many parts that are diverse. They are also interconnected and interdependent. Highly predictable with great accuracy. But since the computer is also connected to the environment (for e.g. the net) it can suddenly get affected, corrupted, spammed and some unpredictable things might happen. But it is mostly under control. Complex Systems –> Chess game. There are diverse pieces. These are interconnected and also interdependent. There are few rules – say about 10 and those rules generate a great variety of responses which can’t be predicted. This appearance of new situations is called ‘emergence’. The situations completely change with every turn. And we are forced to take action (a sort of adaptation) to continue the game till it ends. Complex Adaptive Systems -> Our human body. Diverse pieces. Interconnected and Interdependent. Few rules produce infinite variety of responses (emergence). And we can adapt by balancing, action and also inaction.
Chaotic Systems -> Our heart. More than a pump it is a vortex that sucks in blood imparts it with some additional energy and drains it out into the system. In this case very small changes trigger massive changes to the system.
Though it is very interesting to classify systems in this manner for academic reasons (helps to formulate theories) it is really very difficult for such definite classes of systems to independently exist in reality. This is because all systems ranging from the simplest ones to the most chaotic exist in interconnected and interdependent ways. In that case one is not more important or less important than another. Everyone plays the game together.
Hence if we take the right view, such classification is only good for our initial understanding of different systems. Theories spun out of such ‘abstracted individual systems entities’ are simply meaningless to say the least.
Once different types of systems are interconnected, two basic things happen.
First, they are no longer isolated (equilibrium and predictable conditions) by becoming a part of a larger system that is in a non-equilibrium and therefore highly unpredictable state.
Second, the combined effect of such a networked relationship between different systems is ‘non-linearity’. This essentially means the effect can’t be predicted with a high degree of certainty. In such a situation most of our static theories would fail.
When we combine the two conditions what we get is something called ‘bifurcation’. In simpler terms it is the source of creativity. Something new emerges from the mix.
a) Knowledge would no longer be static. It would become ‘dynamic’, i.e. more fluid and changing where meaning would arise from interconnecting different parts and not lie in the interpretation of any singular part. In such a situation specific attributes of any parts would become insignificant to the behavior of the whole. All parts would enfold within it the whole as much the whole would contain the unfolding of the interactions of the diverse parts and systems. Once we perceive this view the design of our present education system might change.
b) Such turbulent mixing of various systems generating ‘dynamic knowledge’ would help us to live more humane lives away from the prey predator model of the animal world, which we are practicing right to this moment only amplified and sustained through so called national or organizational interests created only in the minds to boost national or organizational supremacy of one nation or organization over the other.c) It would help the 7 billion odd people on the earth to reduce the income disparity which the majority suffers from and is being crushed by its cruelty. d) It would enable free play of imagination and creativity to live more humanely with the hope of living in a liberated state of Non-Fear, where Fear presently shrouds the lives of most.
Herein is the crux of future leadership since ‘leadership’ as we know of it today is a stale and sick replay of understanding of parts based on the infamous ‘prey-predator’ model of the animal world – a world where the possibility of conscious evolved living is simply non-existent.
#Nemetics is concerned about study and evolution of such Leadership through education and action research.
“Leadership in Complexity” maintains a position and a viewpoint that each one of us is a leader of his/her own life not only to change oneself but also to act as agents of change for others through their actions and ideas. For this, one needs the courage to look at his/her own thought process to discover the underlying assumptions, beliefs, perceptions that create the apparent complexity and paradoxes one is engaged with in life.That in short is the essence of social and cultural innovation and entrepreneurship. However, the important thing to be kept in mind is that we are not going to create any purely imagined ‘desired future’ in our minds rooted in idealism and run after that. For example, we are not going to say that ‘let us build a more resilient community’ or let us aim for more ‘structure and order’ realizing that resilience, structure, order are products of self organization. Why is that? This is because ‘complex systems’ would not listen to what we ‘desire’. They produce their own emergence, which take on various forms. For instance ‘failures’, ‘insight’ ‘learning’, ‘wisdom’, ‘strange behavior’, ‘shortfall in attendance’ , ‘bad quality’, ‘low productivity’, ‘obesity’, ‘disease’, ‘epidemics’ and ‘love’ are all cases of ‘emergence’. And these are never fixed or static. They keep changing over time. So, it is indeed stupid to have any fixed plan in the mind and exert our will to achieve the ‘desired mental model’ we have in mind. That of course does not tell us not to have any ‘intention‘ whatsoever. Nor does it ask us to submit to ‘fatality’ of reality. Our path clearly lies in balancing between the two wheels of ‘reality’ and ‘desire’ forged by our will emanating from intention. Such balancing act is fueled by the heady mix of courage to pay attention to our thought process and the deeply felt intention to balance. Our intention in most cases would be to adapt to the ongoing emergent phenomenon by exploring the rules that generate the emergence and then examine the underlying ‘paradoxes’ that shape and sustain such emergence enabling us to adapt through balancing (the Indian concept of jugaard) to give shape to a better collective future. Our aim is not to achieve this or that. Our aim is to simply adapt based on the emergence. It is a delicate balancing act like walking on the sword’s edge and being in the fire at the same time. I believe it makes life simpler, fun to live, helps us ‘survive’ better and also ‘collectively thrive’. The philosophical base that we are going to use is ‘Complex Adaptive Systems’ The process that we would use to do so would be #Nemetics And the tools that we would use would be many but mostly Dialogs, Learning by Doing, Iterations, Improvisations and even employ mathematical tools, if needed, like Time Waveforms, Fourier Transform without losing sight of highly explosive techniques like Meditation and the use of Principles of #nemetics While knowledge lies in selecting the right technique for a given context or situation wisdom lies in balancing and adapting, where both knowledge and wisdom are contextual emergence.
My Twitter pal Ms Rachel Pickett asked on Twitter very pertinent questions about Nemetics, which I would like to address in some details in this post.
I am still trying to figure out what nemetics is… Are there anymore slideshows or youtube videos about it?
The objectives of Nemetics are the following:
a) To provide a Leadership decision framework to resolve ‘wicked paradoxes’ to improve performance.
b) To act as a discovery tool to make sense of reality viewing it in terms of interactions & emergence to help us strategize
c) To be a design tool to improve any particular situation in life. It might be personal, organizational and technical
d) To act as an enabler to observe one’s own thinking process enabling possible change in individual and collective consciousness.
Note: Care is taken not to define the discipline or its boundaries very rigidly. This is because once it is rigidly defined it also rigidly limits the development of the subject, its evolution and expanse it might cover. In short, any rigid definition would limit the discipline’s adaptability to future changes in human conceptual understanding and knowledge or application in a different domain than what is envisaged right now.
I’ve read some of the posts by @graingered and @thedesignkata. It seems like a systems way of thinking, no?
In Nemetics we consider insights, knowledge, frameworks and even wisdom as fluid and changing. It is an emergent view.
Nemetics is linked to many subjects & practices like Systems Thinking, Design Thinking, Complexity Theory, Complexity Science, Chaos, Dialectic Materialism, Complex Adaptive Systems, Physics (Newtonian, Quantum and Relativity), Engineering (Vibration and Wave Theory, Thermodynamics etc), System Dynamics, Mathematics and Spirituality as found in authentic works of Yoga, Buddha, Krishnamurti and David Bohm.
The present development of Nemetics is a result of a turbulent entanglement of all these disciplines. Hence what emerges isn’t clearly attributable to any particular subject, discipline or practice since many of the concepts overlap and intermingle from one domain into another. I am sure it would embrace and lean on many other subjects or disciplines in the future as the discipline and practice of Nemetics grows. But this is the present status.
Therefore, Nemetics is not Systems Thinking as we know it today. At some level there are similarities but at deeper levels there are good reasons to be different as we shall discovery shortly.
In Systems Thinking we look at direct causal relationships between elements contained within a hypothetical system boundary. In Nemetics we don’t need the intentional use of boundaries since we are paying attention to the emergences, nor we rely on finding the causal relationships to inform our decision, which would become self evident as we go along in this dialog.
Moreover, in ST we use knowledge which itself must be limited when we apply it to new situations. In Nemetics we become self aware, so to say of our own thought process just the way we become self aware when we physically move our limbs.
In Systems Thinking we focus on problems, multiple goals and the future consequences of action. In Nemetics we focus on ‘emergence’ and the best possible decisions we might take in a particular situation. For example, while Nemetics enfolds within it the concept of ‘self organization’ it does not eliminate the Newtonian concept of ‘command and control’, which is directly based on the concept of ’cause and effect’ relationship, if that is suitable in a particular situation. In short, actions depend on contexts and situations and are not pre-meditated or idealistic in any sense. In other words decisions and strategy depends on the context and situation.
Moreover, in Systems Thinking we take relationships (feedback loops) as causes. In Nemetics we take relationships as emergence or resonance. Hence in Nemetics we term a relationship as nString (or NemeString) a number of which are enfolded into a tube called nTube (or NemeTube). The nTubes so to say contains the history of an emergence. So, the Nemetic view is that causes don’t lie in relationships.
Now, if we take the relational concept of ST as the ‘ground level’ then in Nemetics we drop two levels below this level with a distinct first and second level.At the first level below ground level it is the same as aimed for in Complexity Theory that is to explain the rules that govern the interactions. This is where Complexity Theory aims to adapt which is not done in Nemetics. We wait to drill down to the next level.
Therefore, the second level below ground level is where Nemetics aims at. At this level we explore the underlying assumptions in our thinking process, the necessary conditions for development, the sate of social consciousness and the paradoxes that create the emergence we deal with at the surface level. At this level we gain new insights to resolve paradoxes to change our consciousness and wisdom to create new designs, strategies, decisions and knowledge for future practice and improvements. Various methods/techniques can be employed to achieve this.
My preferred methods/techniques of going through the second level are Dialog (Bohm’s Dialog and Creativity), Meditation (as in Yoga, Mindfulness), Thinking by Doing (as in Design Thinking), Critical Thinking, Feedback loops, Agency Based Models, Fourier Transforms, Wave Analysis etc…. It might be useful to remember that wise choice and use of techniques and models matter but the quality of attention, self awareness and quality of outcome simply matter more.
That is what is meant by adaptation in Nemetics at the second level. It starts with practice (praxis) and ends up in theory that informs future practice but waits to be revised and changed in the process. It is quite the reverse of what is commonly practiced that is start with a theory and then apply it in practice, where the theory remains more or less constant till it is found wanting beyond a certain domain(s).It is hoped that this would help us to live more consciously and humanely helping us to live in balance and good health.
These, in brief, are the similarities in the differences and the differences in the similarities between the various disciplines that entangle in Nemetics both as a practice and a discipline.
How by resolving paradoxes we improve health?
The underlying concept is simple and straightforward indeed. Our thoughts affect our body and health. Most diseases we suffer from are psychosomatic in nature. This is now a matter of common knowledge that diseases are created by the mind-body connection. Therefore, wrong assumptions within thinking and faulty thinking process affect our bodies and health. So by becoming self aware of our thinking process and adapting as necessary we save ourselves the trouble of suffering from ill health and diseases. Interestingly, paradoxes create diseases. I have used this concept of resolving paradoxes to cure myself of a terminal case of ‘pancreatis’, ‘overweight’, ‘spondylosis’, ‘chronic colitis’, ‘gall bladder’ and ‘diabetes’ without the help of medicines. Sounds strange but true.