Freedom through constraints – Cognitive Edge

I’ve been looking forward you this. Constraint is a word that brings up imagery of wall, fence, rule, hurdle, limitation. Something fixed.

Freedom through constraints

At the most fundamental level there are no internal constraints, the thing does what the thing does. It’s embedded. There are constraints but they sit outside, or more likely at, the boundary of agency in this context. The boundary being the condition that gives the thing is edge. Typically where we place it’s proper noun: this thing.

Right next to it, out at the periphery of systemic behaviour, there are no external constraints: you can’t tell one thing from another thing. Where do they proper nouns go? There is agency, it is universally made of something, but mutated and entangled. Adding constraint ruffles, not combs.

I like to think of that as the connectedness of the constraints themselves, as alive, with their own agency. Even if only for a moment, a flash, a mutation, and it’s gone.

I need coffee, pens and some large sheets of paper.

Advertisements

seems like a long time ago ….

image

Been a while since I was here (original post). My work regularly necessitates the observation of a ‘waterfall’ of interesting clauses – most of which deny me the simple pleasures of unsupervised access to electricity, let alone social media. Let’s say, that there is a style to the affects of my endeavours which while contracted, warrants or at least encourages, an overbearing level of covetness amongst those with chequebooks. I think that they think, they can own my knowledge – at least for a while.

I could not possibly provide the Chequebooks with knowledge. They have to do that themselves. I am however, paid handsomely to point out the knowledge that they already possess and most often, help the little mind-trapped bunnies to accept the absence of knowledge amongst the swathe of jack-shit that they use to make and fake, their decisions.

Fortunately, I have a diminutive and discrete collection of splendidly eclectic, beautiful minds that keep me on the straight and narrow, while emersed in the hell of the signatories own manufacture. “Thank God, for the thinkers” I said, as one of them simultaneously deciphered the problem, saved an extraordinary malaise of wasted time, concluded the work in an instant and in the process saved my arse and my sanity. It is remarkable, how difficult it is, to see clearly in the fog of motivated good intentions. An overly pompous way of saying, “too close to stuff”.

Whether it’s distance, or orientation, or granularity, or excitement, or just an inevitable artefact of the mechanisms chosen or inherited with which to look; metaphorically, too close and you can’t see subconsciously with equal imprecision, to that of the wholely conscious squint of discomfort when you are clearly too far away.

What’s that thing about returning to where you started, only to know the place for the first time? Legend! And of equal prestige to that immortal adage, was a little tweet; twinkling in the peripheral eye of serendipity it announced … “If you’re finding it difficult to explain a method or idea, it’s a sign that you don’t understand the theory that gives the idea its clarity”.

Typical of a truly complex environment, the slightest of deft touches can occasionally draw forth from the cacophony, the sweetest and most delicate whisper of tangible profundity.

What the fuck was I doing, forgetting that? The Chequebooks had pretty much signed away their children’s children in the blind pursuit of a myth, a vision, a nirvana-esque promise of fulfillment that was in essence, little more than a recipe. Beautifully crafted and air-suckingly expensive, but a recipe nonetheless. Now there’s nothing wrong with recipes or tools, or various other mechanics dressed up as best practice. There is a small place in the world where that stodge is bloody useful – every generation does not have to relearn that putting your finger in the electric socket is not conducive to living long and prospering. However, typical of all pseudo-religious dogma the main function of a recipe, is to remove the requirement for experiential depth. Recipes and tools are products of method, which itself is the manifestation of a concept.

There is a tendency to jump to the tool, the answer, without sufficient experimentation with method, in the absence of a purposefully complementary concept. I found the Chequebooks the concept, we changed the method that afternoon, filed the recipe under “lessons learned” and a load of chefs emerged out of the organisational woodwork. I was like Yoda, slowly walking backwards with a dignified bow and a gently reverberating “done here, my work is”.

I knew it all along (was my reinforcing internal narrative) yet the last occasion on which I thought it to myself, said it out loud to others and explicitly acted on it, seems like a long time ago …

image courtesy of:

Look what happens when you try to critically evaluate: Leadership!

I set a task for my students to critically evaluate some leadership literature. I’m half way through marking a pile of the resulting essays, but just had to stop and post this extract from one of the smart-arsed conclusions:

“Leadership has it’s origins in Anthropology and the ubiquitous structure of human families. Organisational leadership is an extension that was first theorised several thousand years ago as an approach to altruistic social control and as a concept, sits within the various local and global incarnations of Divine Command Theory. This is a long way of saying leadership is about one in front many behind. It is very useful when the one in front, has a metaphorical big stick to protect the rest of us from the mystical wild animals. An organisation/society/village requiring a heroic father in charge of its big family.

In simple straight forward situations, one person can know exactly what to do or be better at it than the others, who follow. Trouble is this linear paradigm of direct cause and effect, problem and answer, doesn’t scale well with multiple or parallel problems.

With scale comes complexity (non-linearity) which is not the same as complicatedness (lots of linear). In it’s modern scientific sense the scale issues are now understood to be a different paradigm, originally recognised by Darwin and developed considerably in the work of many people throughout the early 20th Century.

More recently, with the recognition of James Lovelock, this understanding tipped into popular culture and we now know this new complexity to be an ecological paradigm that sits conceptually within a General Systems Theory. Despite this, as we have moved away from command and control type hierarchies over the past few years, leadership has remained as the dominant organisational doctrine.

Divine Command Theory is ontologically distinct and sits alongside several other concepts that have bounded applicability, but nonetheless useful in certain situations. In modern terms all the soft-psychological double-barrelled leadership of; conversational; listening; engaged; personal, thought and especially distributed, are attempts to slot a perfectly good little square peg into a great big fractal hole.

Probably the best way to make sense of this is to consider how an ecology actually works. A social network like LinkedIn is an example of a pro-evolutionary ecology and nobody leads it, we self-organise and do the stuff we’re good at or join in the stuff we happen to notice?

It’s not that leadership is good, or bad, or systems are somehow better. It’s that as situations become more complex there is a diminishing return from the leadership paradigm, as situations move beyond its intrinsically interpersonal value base.”

I feel like it’s me that needs to go back to school, either that or the clever little bugger is playing to all my guilty pleasures! How the hell would YOU mark that?

Complex domain: Dave Snowden does more loveliness!

Can your brain have an orgasm on its own?

http://cognitive-edge.com/blog/entry/5989/complex-domain-model-april2013-edition/

I do like this sort of Cartesian analysis, I think it suits my particular form of autism. I can’t help thinking it has been drawn the wrong way round. If you did a mirror image across the line of coherence, you could slot this into the other sub domain models.

For me, in the complex domain, certainty amongst the cognoscenti is as far from disorder as you can get, organisational cognitive dissonance perhaps. Whereas “knowing something that just ain’t so”, is the strategic surprise. Or just aesthetic proselytism from the gently bewildered leadershippers.

I’m now thinking that you’ve mapped it this way round deliberately so numpties like me don’t naively slot the ubermodels together?

Q: Critically evaluate piece of leadership literature from a systems perspective – A:

I set a task for my students to critically evaluate some leadership literature. I’m half way through marking a pile of the resulting essays, but just had to stop and post this extract from one of the smart-arsed conclusions:

“Leadership has it’s origins in Anthropology and the ubiquitous structure of human families. Organisational leadership is an extension that was first theorised several thousand years ago as an approach to altruistic social control and as a concept, sits within the various local and global incarnations of Divine Command Theory. This is a long way of saying leadership is about one in front many behind. It is very useful when the one in front, has a metaphorical big stick to protect the rest of us from the mystical wild animals. An organisation/society/village requiring a heroic father in charge of its big family.

In simple straight forward situations, one person can know exactly what to do or be better at it than the others, who follow. Trouble is this linear paradigm of direct cause and effect, problem and answer, doesn’t scale well with multiple or parallel problems.

With scale comes complexity (non-linearity) which is not the same as complicatedness (lots of linear). In it’s modern scientific sense the scale issues are now understood to be a different paradigm, originally recognised by Darwin and developed considerably in the work of many people throughout the early 20th Century.

More recently, with the recognition of James Lovelock, this understanding tipped into popular culture and we now know this new complexity to be an ecological paradigm that sits conceptually within a General Systems Theory. Despite this, as we have moved away from command and control type hierarchies over the past few years, leadership has remained as the dominant organisational doctrine.

Divine Command Theory is ontologically distinct and sits alongside several other concepts that have bounded applicability, but nonetheless useful in certain situations. In modern terms all the soft-psychological double-barrelled leadership of; conversational; listening; engaged; personal, thought and especially distributed, are attempts to slot a perfectly good little square peg into a great big fractal hole.

Probably the best way to make sense of this is to consider how an ecology actually works. A social network like LinkedIn is an example of a pro-evolutionary ecology and nobody leads it, we self-organise and do the stuff we’re good at or join in the stuff we happen to notice?

It’s not that leadership is good, or bad, or systems are somehow better. It’s that as situations become more complex there is a diminishing return from the leadership paradigm, as situations move beyond its intrinsically interpersonal value base.”

I feel like it’s me that needs to go back to school, either that or the clever little bugger is playing to all my guilty pleasures! How the hell would YOU mark that?

Sociology and Complexity Science blog: New Version of Complexity Map

I don’t think this’d is complete, but being about complexity, perfection is unimportant. More impotent however, is the addition of multilevel complex systems. Personally I prefer Fractal Complex Systems and I’m still coaxing views on the idea via my weird existential website experiment thingy. http://sacswebsite.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/new-version-of-complexity-map.html