Complexity: The New Innovation Paradigm?

Schematicky Atom. Credit Wikimedia Commons
Schematic Atom. Credit Wikimedia Commons

Science dethroned philosophy many years ago. In the ancient Greece, metaphysics was an attempt to explain those things that a newborn science could not explain and ancient Greeks thought that it was a more complete and perfect knowledge than physics. Nowadays, experimental science has provided a lot of answers to many things that have made us to consider metaphysics as a bad intellectual artifact. Every day we are discovering new things from experimental science that increase our capability to understand the world better. The last example can be the bad named God’s particle. This is a bad designation because for believers, all the particles proceed from God and all of them would be God’s particles. On the other hand, for unbelievers, no particle can proceed from God. Then, it is a bad name for that phenomenon and it had better referred following its parent’s name as Higgs’s boson.

This is an interesting case because it lets to see how our common thinking is linking God with the state of the art of the advanced physics. And doing this, we are recognizing that even today there is a fuzzy border between physics and metaphysics as in the epoch of the ancient Greeks, at least in our minds.

Metaphysics is an attempt to get knowledge from our thinking that cannot provide us with real evidence when we cannot find an explanation for some phenomena. From Kant we know that there are many situations where the use of the pure reason in order to try to find new knowledge can drive to very different answers, he named these facts as antinomies. This thinking was the end of metaphysics as a science, but it showed, equally, that there is a natural trend in the human mind to find answers to everything we cannot understand.

The universe reserves a lot of mysteries yet, but there is one of them that I am trying to analyze from several years. If the entropy of the universe cannot decrease, or in other words, if there is a general physical law that establishes the trend to disorder, where are many trends to organize things born? Why is life born? Why do the live beings tend to be more sophisticated?

A partial answer to the initial question can be Higgs’s boson. This particle is necessary to provide mass, and mass is a more ordered state than energy. It is possible than in the future we can find even a mathematical model that can answer all those questions, however, today we can only use “metaphysical techniques” without evidence in Kant’s sense to calm our minds.

Far from the world of particles, there are other tools to analyze reality and those opposite trends to organization and chaos. Thinking in innovation economy I wrote a summary of these trends under the name of Saco’s Laws and they can be read in another page of this blog. Although they are not as mathematical and elegant as Higgs’s boson in physics, I could provide many real examples of them as most of managers and innovators. These sentences are descriptive and they do not provide solutions, however, back to ancient Greeks’ metaphysics, it shows that at the equilibrium, at the middle, it is where virtue resides.

Although Saco’s laws do not provide solutions they open the paradigm of complexity management to analyze innovation processes that can be explained at follows: Organizations have a natural trend to innovation that can be understood as a natural trend to change their structure to get more functionality and they have a natural trend to the preservation of the current structure too. Innovation management is the way to support the creation of the structure that provides the organization with the required new functionality that fits better the environmental conditions and to eliminate the structure that only moves the uncertainty from one point of the organization to another one making more difficult to control the business by the senior management to cope with the changes of the environment.

In other words, innovation management searches for changes of functionality that provides a more resilient organization, this can be controlled mathematically measuring complexity. Innovation management is in fact a strategic focus to complexity management. There are two ways to cope with low resilience, decreasing complexity or increasing maximum complexity, innovation management searches for the latter approach, as other strategic activities of the businesses.

There is an important difference between innovation and innovation management. Innovation is a natural trend of organizations and systems to increase functionality, as there is a natural trend to preserve certain structures or a natural trend to chaos in every system. However, innovation management would be the science that tries to balance those trends to provide an “optimally” resilient system, organization or business.


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