Principles/conditions for self-organization in human systems

Dear reader,

The following is an excerpt from my research into self-organisation in human/social systems.

The visual representation is in Dutch. I have to find this visual representation again since I am re-editing this post.

Below, a translation of the conditions/principles for self-organization in human systems.

  1. Distribution of control/authority.

Distribution of authority makes any system (highly) complex, and, therefore, self-organizing, because the freedom of each agent participating or partaking in such a system is increased, which creates a chaotic context to work with. The chaos and tensions between all agents are more likely to rise compared to mere complicated systems in which there exist more of a typical boss hierarchy.  Due to the level of distributed control in an organisation one can perhaps predict in the same changes the weather can be predicted what the level of chaos will be. This chaos, however, creates the fuel for novelty to potentially occur. This can be linked to the understanding of having many ‘question marks’ in your business portfolio rather then ‘cash cows’. These questions ‘marks’ services and/or products can perhaps easily turn into ‘cash cows’ if the self-organization of such a system allows some form of token system, by which trade can occur, in the equation. If one reads the book; extreme economies by Richard Davies one can understand that not everything can be used as a token. Token systems are a topic on its own I would like to study more about. So new pathways are continuously explored and tested, first using mental models, then testing it out in the real to see which path(s) to take are the best ‘fit’ based around external tensions the system has with other systems in the environment these systems are ‘nested’ in. Nested systems are a topic on its own I will share more about as well. The chaos caused by the competition and cooperation of the agents in the organization is, therefore, necessary to put the system far from equilibrium, on the edge of chaos, so that the whole organization can continuously evolve according to its (dynamic and grounded) purpose. Which brings me to the following principle;

  1. Evolutionary purpose/goal/purpose.

All agents in the organization are constantly (re)defining the purpose of the organization based upon the information they have of their surroundings. The existence of the organization is rooted in evolutionary principles, so the organization has to make itself relevant to other systems in the environment in order to survive and thrive. This purpose is formed bottom up by the agents, and creates a structure/a higher order wherein the agents can execute their freedoms. The notion of freedom is, therefore, illusive. Yes, there is individual freedom, and this is encouraged, but it remains bounded by the freedom of other agents, the natural hierarchies one is apart of, and the overall purpose of the whole organization all create natural boundaries by which agents have to navigate in. One cannot for example easily break into the ‘secrets’ of the universe without thorough self-discipline and training. So the very experience of boundaries is, therefore, already encoded within the processes of defining and redefining what purpose is and means for the agents partaking or simply participating in that system. This is why one can say that ‘we create our own prisons’. Without these boundaries, there cannot be creation to begin with, the friction it creates thrives creativity and innovation. This evolutionary purpose influences the behavior of the agents by top-down and, I would add, also bottom up causality through positive and negative feedback loops. Decisions and choices by individual agents that add to this purpose are enforced through positive feedback loops, deviant behavior that deflects this purpose are certainly allowed to a certain level in order to experiment, but probably corrected or cancelled out because of the negative feedback loops if it turns out that the behavior is not contributing or damaging the purpose of the organization.

  1. Qualities of the people/agents in the organization.

In order for self-organization to work, the people in the organization need to be willing to take responsibility, initiative and be willing to make ‘mistakes’. They ‘have’ to differentiate themselves from others in their professions and expertise in order to create diversity in the system, plus they ‘have’ to be able to communicate and exchange clearly with other agents so that there is a high level of connectivity between all agents. Basically said, there has to be diversity and connectivity between the agents to create a complex enough context out of which novelty can occur.

(4.) Self-organizing systems need constant energy to sustain its processes based on the principles of thermodynamics.

More obvious, following evolutionary principles, an organization of people has similarities with biological systems, are semi-autonomous and requires external help/inputs to function. Organizations can be co-dependent upon relevant systems in their environments like the need for water, however, ideally speaking there exist at least some form of synergy with healthy levels of independence as well so that there exist a natural safety net of silos of self-sustaining housing/farms/cities etc if a calamity might wipe out a portion of the system so to speak. No organization is a one-man island on the longer term. So they require energy, matter or information (raw materials of a low level of entropy) to put products and services back into their environment to create a level of reciprocity. Waste is dissipated into ‘buffer zones’ into neighboring systems with a higher level of entropy. This dissipative structure of self-organizing systems is key in creating efficiency and prolonging the supra systems from maximum entropy, until eventually, it ceases to exist, like pretty much everything else in the universe. Or is there a continuum… drum roffle.

Happy to hear feedback,

And as always, these posts are always under construction. So I try my best to write it down clearly.



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