This first posting is transferred from comments on the PLAST proposal in preparation, and here relates to Helene's collection of resources for "Visualizing systemic behavior & change."
Pattern Language represents a historic innovation
in how we visualize the world, I think
- Pattern Language both allows and requires us to make a bridge between the “world of organic systems made of complexly related independent parts” and our world professional culture focused on reasoning and numbers using “deterministic thinking” for making models.
In the latter world everything can be handled conceptually, and with pattern language you need to relate to your experience of complex roles and relationships with things, that behave by themselves. They’re worlds apart in many ways, but pattern language allows objectives in one to be clearly defined enough to work with the other, like actual “attractors” for analytical thinking, made from organically related parts…!
One can see that as either a "problem" or a "solution", in that our actual interest is to find how to marry the two forms of recognizable patterns of life in order for people who thrive on logical creativity can succeed in working with the very different kind of organic creativity of the non-cognitive world we are part of.
- A nice article in ZQ, “A Systems View and Your New Toolbox” Spring 2014 p95 offers a good example of writing that mixes those two kinds of thinking and language while making classic omissions, by leaving out important features of natural complex systems and relationships that nearly every logical thinking person initially leaves out. So here are two little pattern descriptions of them.
1) Living systems are described as “models” which leaves out how living systems have an “autonomy of parts interacting and exchanging through open environments”, so it’s unclear if “inputs and outputs” mentioned are really for something working as “an economy” or working as a “machine”. There would need to be discussion of how far the machine model can apply to the organic economy of the actual system if that was what is meant.
2) There’s a phase 2. of any organic transformation process missing from the discussion, during which wonderfully disruptive innovations need to heal, recovering from that explosive phase 1. in which innovations multiply, that is also not found. That phase 2 is necessary not self-evident, but discovered, and for responsive innovation follows reliably, just because the general “pattern of transformations” universally begins with “little things multiply up hierarchical structures”(p.9) as an explosion of change that simple demands response from something. That sustaining a multiplication of that kind is something that seems possible in a deterministic world, and so departing from it left unstated, the need to depart from it is generally left out. For a “living plan” though, whether it seems to multiply short term profits or not, it’s a temporary phase that “needs healing” for the system it builds to become sustainable.
The “S” curve is an ubiquitous shape found through nature and throughout theory, but representing starkly different forms of organization and behavior in each... So... it's a bridge between them, between deterministic models and the complex organizational stages of living systems.
The main elements are the two periods of transformative growth “individuation” and “maturation”, and the three dots, representing events that begin and end those phases of progressive growth, the first the “start-up” process (like any new business needs to get right), its “graduation” moment, (as it switches its motivation from self-expansion to finding and securing roles in its new environment) and finally it’s “establishment” in those roles.
What you will find surprising is that this generic pattern sequence for transforming complex relationships is so universal, it fits virtually every kind of enduring change.
Above the period 1. was referred to as “innovation” and 2. as “healing”, such as applies to the necessary stages of any policy intervention one would use a systems “tool box” for, basic task, first start the job then finish it.
A closely related view of this the same bridge, approached from a deterministic physics view, introduces a general theorem of continuity in change. The theorem also exposes large explanatory gaps for any deterministic theory, that need to be filled in with local emergent processes, often easily confirmed by observation. The combination proves that the idea that we live in a world of deterministic rules rests emerging processes to bridge the gaps in continuity that would otherwise occur. The "S" curve is a template for helping identify them, for a whole systems view.
The Physics of Continuity = ladders of change
The Chapters of a whole event
then follow the links, browse the categories or search for, life-cycle, natural systems, "whole event", "whole system", "unhidden pattern", emergence, paradigm, resilience.
The above general model of change, as a complex natural event describes the phases of
as a succession of 4 stages of acumulative design, (two of which are nominally exponential) and 3 events, so a total of 7 milestones. The following stage of enduring life, and then inverse transformation, of decline and decay that follows, is what is discussed as the "whole event" of the natural lifecycle for any naturally occurring system. So for that
1 "whole event"
there are 7 stages and 6 events connecting them, for a total of . One needs to keep mentioning, of course, that these are not models of nature, but patterns to look for in nature, that theory implies must exist, but taking on their own forms in the context in which the occur.
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