Thursday, March 28, 2013

Is There Any Culture Left, Anywhere, That is Agile Enough to Prevent It's Own Failure?

There's certainly a palpable feeling that bureaucratic scale is simply outrunning our rate of regulatory evolution. If so, either systemic collapse or massively disruptive reform is imminent. The vast majority fear it's the former. Our current methods aren't driving results and we aren't changing our methods! Have we already lost control?

If we don't focus, quickly, on matching our rate of total methods change to the existing rate of situation change ... then we're in trouble. Seems everyone has become too specialized to coordinate effective group self-governance.

Cyprus Banks passed European stress tests in 2011.

Cyprus banks open after 12-day lockdown, 2013

At this point, looking harder at any one process won't help, nor will declaring ideology and recruiting completely blind faith - just to pursue randomly chosen methods masquerading as national goals. We need to coordinate everything at once, or don't bother trying at all.

National policy is becoming reminiscent of a common clinical conundrum where patients get over medicated.

Liver problem? See a liver specialist, who prescribes a liver drug. Gall bladder problem? Another drug. Intestinal problem? Yet another drug. Unexpected blood pressure & another drug? This goes on, and on, but every clumsy, uncoordinated intervention triggers negative complications that "no [isolated idiot] could have predicted."

Often, if the patient survives at all, some low-paid GP or Nurse Practitioner finally looks at the whole situation - and says "stop ALL the drugs," thereby triggering a recovery deemed miraculous by all the specialists.

If not too late, a not unheard of final solution is coordinated practice - in the form of improved diet, exercise and lifestyle, letting all the ~300 cell types and 60-odd organs in the human body simply do what's most required .... practice systemic coordination in a setting they're evolved to handle. Iterative practice does wonders for tuning of any complex system, from organ-sets to sports teams to large electorates.

That lesson - of full system practice - is one that legions of people learn innately - biologists, race-car teams, software programmers, ship operators, industrial engineers, etc, etc. Tune the damn system, NOT the components. The fact that nothing else works is self-documented by the consistent failure of alternative approaches. So why have we as a nation fallen into this embarrassing situation of shrinking policy space and near-zero policy agility?

Comically, what's the most difficult place to document enough failures to quickly define what DOES work? That's right, it's total system performance - because all local workers get used to the nation protecting it's components, not the inverse, where the components tune themselves to protect the nation. Most people irrationally avoid discussing early signs of total system failure.

People worry most about local failure, and forget to monitor and react to signs of systemic failure. It's easier to organize cultural components - from families to professions to corporations to agencies - than it is to tune an entire nation, simply because components are allowed to fail frequently and often, but whole systems aren't. The bigger the group, the harder it is to get all components involved in monitoring early signs of beginning system failure. Then it's harder still to get all components to cooperatively pre-tune the damn system vs tuning themselves in isolation!

Yet if everyone pays minimal, continuous attention to protecting their whole system, the total system protects all components, just as behavior of the human body protects all 60 organs and 300 cell types. This ain't rocket science!  Its just simple network connectivity logic.

Is national policy tuning always possible? Of course it is! Every system is capable of further tuning the organizational state it's already achieved. However, success ALWAYS involves everyone talking to literally everyone, at some minimal frequency, and then backing up to the leanest interaction set that fits a given situation. If we don't all practice some minimal level of "management by walking around," we won't know who to QUICKLY talk to - about exactly what - when signs of disorganization start to accrue. You can't practice prevention without preparation, and familiarity with early interventions, i.e., with far-flung interactions and system tinkering. If everyone doesn't explore their growing cultural system widely enough and often enough, they'll never see unpredictable surprises coming.

The only systems that survive and continue evolving THROUGH rapid situation changes are those that focus on the ability to reconnect all-to-all & then relax to the leanest pattern, and then constantly upgrade methods for reconnecting & relaxing, repetitively, on-demand, with the most agility.

Darwin concluded that Adaptive Rate trumped all other survival features. Current citizens should all understand that Cultural Adaptive Rate depends on our methods for frequently and completely re-organizing. Since methods drive results, that means paying attention to methods for triggering, initiating and finishing the process of changing everything. Especially so when it comes to Adaptive Rate of our own governance methods.

We knew this when we wrote the US Constitution. Some of the framers bluntly described the need to re-organize governance every 20 years. We're way behind schedule, and grossly out of practice. And we're clearly not the only country in this predicament.

Is the entire world economy a dead man walking, and just doesn't know it yet?

Are we all just sitting on our hands, waiting for "Rome" to actually fall, so we can all revert to being Russian gangsters? Every marauding gang for itself? Or, can we trigger significant, adaptive change. Can we still adaptively trigger, on-demand, the subtle, Fast Transients, catalysts or co-factors, buried n-layers deep in every example of institutional or process momentum? Philosophers noted this hundreds of years ago, and coined the phrase "to know the truth, ask 'why' 5 times."

Today, to know WHY we aren't changing everything fast enough, we need everyone asking "why aren't things changing," 5-times in succession, about everything. That depth of analysis will easily trigger enough change to let us survive any challenge. Just do it.

So why aren't we constantly tinkering with our own systemic governance? Why aren't we practiced at and prepared to start re-connecting everyone to everyone? Simply because behavior follows habit? We are what we practice?

If we want things on the surface to seem the same, everything below the surface must change, rapidly, not later on. Why do we provide ourselves with so little practice at changing everything? We're failing simply because we're no long comfortable with change.  We know what happens to people and whole nations that never get outside their comfort zone, yet eventually find themselves in just that position. When change finally occurs, they're paralyzed for lack of practice.