Harnessing Complexity

Harnessing Complexity

4.1 6
by Robert Axelrod, Michael D. Cohen
     
 

ISBN-10: 0465005500

ISBN-13: 9780465005505

Pub. Date: 01/28/2001

Publisher: Basic Books


Harnessing Complexity will be indispensable to anyone who wants to better comprehend how people and organizations can adapt effectively in the information age. This book is a step-by-step guide to understanding the processes of variation, interaction, and selection that are at work in all organizations. The authors show how to use their own paradigm of "bottom up"…  See more details below

Overview


Harnessing Complexity will be indispensable to anyone who wants to better comprehend how people and organizations can adapt effectively in the information age. This book is a step-by-step guide to understanding the processes of variation, interaction, and selection that are at work in all organizations. The authors show how to use their own paradigm of "bottom up" management, the Complex Adaptive System-whether in science, public policy, or private commerce. This simple model of how people work together will change forever how we think about getting things done in a group."Harnessing Complexity distills the managerial essence of current research on complexity.…A very valuable contribution to the emerging theory of competition and competitive advantage."-C.K. Prahalad, University of Michigan, coauthor of Competing for the Future"A brilliant exposition that demystifies both the theory and use of Complex Adaptive Systems."-John Seely Brown, Xerox Corporation and Palo Alto Research Center

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465005505
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
01/28/2001
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
593,581
Product dimensions:
5.36(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.54(d)

Table of Contents

Preface

I. Introduction
Introduction to the Framework
The Difficulty of Prediction
Complexity Research
The Design of Organizations and Strategies
The Information Revolution
Complexity and Information
Adaptation and Information
Complexity as a Way of Thinking

II. Variation
The Role of Variation
Altering the Frequency of Types
Copying With Error
Endogenous Copying Mechanisms
Recombining Mechanisms
Exploration Versus Exploitation
Example: Military Personnel Systems
Whether to Encourage Variety
Example: Linux Software Development
Extinction -- The Vanishing of Types

III. Interaction
The Importance of Interaction
Example: Social Capital
How Interaction Works
Proximity and Activation
Spaces: Physical and Conceptual
Example: Combating the AIDS Virus, Part 1
External Methods of Changing Interaction Patterns
Barriers to Movement in Time and Physical Space
Barriers to Movement in Conceptual Spaces
Semi-permeable Barriers
Example: Combating the AIDS Virus, Part 2
Activation in Sequence or in Parallel
Internal Methods of Changing Interaction Patterns
Following Another Agent
Following a Signal
Example: Tags in the Prisoner's Dilemma
Forming Boundaries
Separating Time Scales
Redistributing Stress
Example: Modes of Failure in Information Systems
Organizing Routines
Restructuring of Physical and Conceptual Spaces

IV. Selection
Defining Criteria of Success
Example: Prize Competitions
Determining the Level of Selection
Selection of Agents
Selection of Strategies
Attributing Credit for Success and Failure
Example: MilitarySimulation
Creating New Agents or Strategies
The Key Role of Copying
Detailed Differences Among Generic Copying Processes
Exercising Visible Leadership

V. Conclusion
The Central Elements of the Framework
How the Elements Form a Coherent Framework
What a User of the Framework Asks
What a User of the Framework Can Do
What May Come of This Approach
References
Index

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Harnessing Complexity 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I might have to start this over at a new location...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
HARNESSING COMPLEXITY is a breakthrough book on complexity science. It provides the first useful framework and vocabulary for evaluating complex adaptive systems, while giving you the first guidelines for considering how to use the circumstances of your complex adaptive system to your organization's advantage. All of this is beautifully summarized in a brief concluding chapter. I suggest you begin by reading that chapter, so you will have a better idea of why you are learning what you are learning. This approach will also be improved by keeping in mind some problem or opportunity that you want to think about in terms of complexity science as you read the book. You'll get more out of the book that way. But do be warned that the book starts off like a typical popular book on a technical subject by academics. There are lots of references to the work of others, lots of pages of definitions, and a very long introduction. But don't be fooled; it's just laying the groundwork for enabling you to apply a new framework to your situation. But the writing is simple and clear. The examples are varied and interesting -- drawn from computer sciences, evolutionary biology and social design. One of those areas is bound to interest you. The framework is pretty simple: Variation (we usually encourage too little of it -- that's our old friend complacency fooling us, again); Interaction (connections cause ideas and physical changes to grow in significance -- showing the importance of overcoming the communications stall); and Selection (watch the tendency to close off experimentation too quickly or to reward the wrong behavior -- avoiding the misconception and disbelief stalls). I found that the framework immediately worked in thinking about problems that I have been considering, like how to spread the awareness of superior practices. In fact, the framework itself is a good example of a theoretical best practice thinking exercise. I highly commend it to you. Unfortunately, the book will appear to be too difficult and too abstract in concepts for many. I suggest the authors plan to follow this book with one more along the lines of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Complexity Harnessers (I'm sure they'll find a better title). The point is that most readers will want more help with application, and less development of the framework. I strongly recommend this book to those who want to understand more about complexity science. The nontechnical overview is excellent. But more importantly, I strongly recommend that you try to apply the book's principles as expressed in the conclusion to your own issues, those of your organization, and those of humanity and the other species on Earth. I think this book can be a big help in speeding human-led progress. Donald Mitchell, co-author of The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The 2,000 Percent Solution
Guest More than 1 year ago
HARNESSING COMPLEXITY is a breakthrough book on complexity science. It provides the first useful framework and vocabulary for evaluating complex adaptive systems, while giving you the first guidelines for considering how to use the circumstances of your complex adaptive system to your organization's advantage. All of this is beautifully summarized in a brief concluding chapter. I suggest you begin by reading that chapter, so you will have a better idea of why you are learning what you are learning. This approach will also be improved by keeping in mind some problem or opportunity that you want to think about in terms of complexity science as you read the book. You'll get more out of the book that way. But do be warned that the book starts off like a typical popular book on a technical subject by academics. There are lots of references to the work of others, lots of pages of definitions, and a very long introduction. But don't be fooled; it's just laying the groundwork for enabling you to apply a new framework to your situation. But the writing is simple and clear. The examples are varied and interesting -- drawn from computer sciences, evolutionary biology and social design. One of those areas is bound to interest you. The framework is pretty simple: Variation (we usually encourage too little of it -- that's our old friend complacency fooling us, again); Interaction (connections cause ideas and physical changes to grow in significance -- showing the importance of overcoming the communications stall); and Selection (watch the tendency to close off experimentation too quickly or to reward the wrong behavior -- avoiding the misconception and disbelief stalls). I found that the framework immediately worked in thinking about problems that I have been considering, like how to spread the awareness of superior practices. In fact, the framework itself is a good example of a theoretical best practice thinking exercise. I highly commend it to you. Unfortunately, the book will appear to be too difficult and too abstract in concepts for many. I suggest the authors plan to follow this book with one more along the lines of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Complexity Harnessers (I'm sure they'll find a better title). The point is that most readers will want more help with application, and less development of the framew
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok. Im good with that.