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Why Systems Work: Resilience, Self-organisation, Hierarchy


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Session at the Sydney Limited WIP Society about resilience, self-organisation, and hierarchy in systems

Published in: Leadership & Management

Why Systems Work: Resilience, Self-organisation, Hierarchy

  1. 1. Why Systems Work: Resilience, Self-Organisation, Hierarchy Sydney Limited WIP Society Jason Yip @jchyip
  2. 2. Why do systems work?
  3. 3. “Resilience is a measure of a system’s ability to survive and persist within a variable environment. The opposite of resilience is brittleness or rigidity.”
  4. 4. Resilience comes from restorative feedback loops
  5. 5. Meta-resilience occurs when you have feedback loops that restore other feedback loops
  6. 6. Meta-meta-resilience (aka “self-organising” OR “antifragility”) comes from “feedback loops that can learn, create, design, and evolve ever more complex restorative structures.”
  7. 7. Examples of resilient systems
  8. 8. There are always limits to resilience
  9. 9. Resilience != static or constant
  10. 10. The resilient status quo could have short-term oscillations, periodic outbreaks, cycles of succession, climax, and collapse
  11. 11. “ that are constant over time can be unresilient”
  12. 12. Static stability != resilience
  13. 13. Stability is easy to see; resilience is harder to see
  14. 14. “...people often sacrifice resilience for stability, or for productivity, or for some other more immediate recognisable system property.”
  15. 15. Large organisations typically lose resilience because their sense and respond systems have to travel through too many layers of delay and distortion
  16. 16. Discussion: How is an Agile, Lean, Kanban system resilient?
  17. 17. Question: Does just-in-time sacrifice resilience (aka “just-in-case”) for cost efficiency?
  18. 18. The capacity of a system to make its own structure more complex is called self-organisation.
  19. 19. Examples of self-organisation
  20. 20. “Like resilience, self-organisation is often sacrificed for purposes of short-term productivity and stability.”
  21. 21. Self organisation... ● Produces heterogeneity and unpredictability ● Likely comes up with new structures and new ways of doing things ● Requires freedom and experimentation and a certain amount of disorder
  22. 22. Self organisation... ... scares individuals and threatens power structures
  23. 23. Conway’s Game of Life
  24. 24. Boids
  25. 25. “Even complex forms of self-organisation may arise from relatively simple organising rules - or may not.”
  26. 26. Question: What are the organising rules that guide self-organisation with Agile, Lean, Kanban systems?
  27. 27. “Complex systems can evolve from simple systems only if there are stable intermediate forms. The resulting complex forms will naturally be hierarchic.”
  28. 28. Example of hierarchy of systems
  29. 29. Hierarchies... ● Give system stability ● Give resilience (unless they increase feedback delay) ● Reduce the amount of information that any part of the system has to keep track of (aka “information hiding”)
  30. 30. “In hierarchical systems relationships within each subsystem are denser and stronger than relationships between subsystems.”
  31. 31. In software programming... Cohesion: the degree to which the elements of a module belong together Coupling: the degree to which a module relies on other modules
  32. 32. “The purpose of the upper layers of the hierarchy is to serve the purposes of the lower layers.”
  33. 33. Question: Does anyone have any examples of hierarchy forgetting its purpose is to help subsystems do their jobs better?
  34. 34. “When a subsystem’s goals dominate at the expense of the total system’s goals, the resulting behavior is called suboptimisation.”
  35. 35. Highly functional systems need... ● Coordination toward larger system goals ● Autonomy to keep subsystems flourishing, functioning, and self-organising
  36. 36. Question: How does hierarchy fit in Agile, Lean, Kanban systems?
  37. 37. Question: Does that cover the essence of why systems work?
  38. 38. Overall thoughts or questions?
  39. 39. Images ● ● ● ● ● https://flic. kr/p/mYbyZB ● ● ● https://flic. kr/p/ogHV6Q ● ● ● ● ● ●