Connecting ‘Emergence’ & ‘Essence’ to Innovate

All systems, whether simple or complex, exhibit 'Emergence'. In plain terms, we may say that 'emergence' is the problem that we can sense with our senses and is usually undesirable. However, most systems produce more than one problem. The usual strategy is to take up one problem at a time and deal with them individually. However, experience shows that this is not a very effective strategy since the problems keep repeating. Why is it so? This is because the problems are somehow connected to each other. One problem creates the next and have a cascading or ripple effect to produce multiple problems. In this case the reliability of a system over time would exhibit a negative exponential (negative exponential pattern). That would mean that we would continue to work harder and harder and struggle but would never be able to bring the system back to its desirable purpose. So, system 'emergence' gives rise to 'uncertainty'

Therefore, a better way to deal with this issue is to consider all the problems in one go or in other words deal with them as a set of problems. This set is what we call as 'Emergence'. It might be weak or strong but it actually does not matter when we would have to solve them simultaneously. Once done in this manner, the reliability of the system over time would be more or less constant (constant pattern) over time, which would enable us to maintain the desirable system behavior over a relatively longer period of time. 

But how do we go about tackling a set of problem or 'Emergence'?

We know that parts of a system are connected by various relationships. We may have two types of relationships — the strong and the weak. If there is a strong (undesirable or having an imperfection)relationship it causes an emergence. Whereas weak (desirable or perfect harmonious) relationships do not produce emergence. So, the relationship(s)that causes emergence are called the 'Essence'.

The job then boils down to connecting the observable 'Emergence' to the generally invisible 'Essence'. Once we find out such connections we can do a number of things, which are as follows:

a) The risk of the uncertainty reduces. Note that 'risk' and 'uncertainty' have different meanings. While uncertainty represents the unknown that usually gives rise to fear; risk expresses our degree of confidence in having a qualitative or quantitative understanding of the unknown.

b) Simultaneously solve a set of problems by first understanding the connection between Emergence and the Essence and then changing the quality of the Essence. Changing  the quality of the essence is basically done by converting the strong relationships into relatively weaker relationships or eliminating the undesirable essence or by modifying relationships or amplifying certain relationships or creating new ones. By this we get rid of the undesirable Emergence of a system.

c) This leads to smart innovation. Innovation resulting from changing the quality of the essence. A very small effort that results in dramatic changes. In most cases such changes are also cost effective. This is because what actually lies behind an 'essence' are our own thought waves. Changing a thought wave actually does not involve any cost. However giving a form to a new thought wave might involve certain cost, which can be minimized through design choices from a number of possibilities. 

d) Improve the reliability of the system through systemically planning to weaken the relationships

e) We can then observe the changes in the essence over time (i.e. the relationship changes from weak to stronger relationships) and predict the onset of emergence to take timely action to avoid failure of the desirable function or purpose of any system.



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