This blog post started as a comment to a blog post by Glisten, but then grew like Topsy I feel that my shift in thinking about strategy and scaffolding may be significant.
Thank you, Glisten. Your “concise revelation” catalyzed a (minor but significant) shift in my own perspective on the role of individual humans and their nested/networked patterns of interaction for significant change.
GLISTEN: taking account of “people doing things” — In the case of the “whole planetary system” the human factor, and the incorporated beings that are emerging from human collective behaviours are in essence formed of myriad interactions between individuals that have become habituated to a particular systemic matrix. This can change.
Decades ago I constructed a temporal holarchy of DOINGS – “people doing things”. I will attempt to reconstruct it here. There are at least four major frames humans use to structure their reality: systems, networks, holarchies, ecologies. Systems is NOT the top perspective, only one of four.
- Acts – automatic muscular performance sequences from brain programs, like throwing a ball
- Actions – sequences of Acts
- Tasks – systems of Acts with Intent
- Activities – systems of Tasks & Actions with Intent
- Projects-of-Activities (including Sub- and Mega- Projects) – requires conceptual beyond intuitive
- Programs-of-Projects (including Sub- and Mega- Programs)
- Ventures/Enterprises – woven Programs, Projects, etc.
There may be more than a material universe, but if actions beyond the material are to have an effect on the material, they must be evident in the material. This is a tautology, but needs to be emphasized. Humans leave a permanent mark on their material world (including their material bodies) only through the action of their muscles (including speech, artwork, writing, and manual construction). In human societal systems, the movements of muscles and beings are coordinated via the creation of and perception of semiotic structures exchanged between humans (often asynchronously and after a time lag). This semiotic field is also the result of human muscle movement. Ideas and visions mediate. DOING is at the the medium of agency.
The contemporary semiotic fields and the patterns of habitual muscle movement on Earth today are highly dysfunctional, if not downright dangerous to our very survival. Yes, it can and MUST change. The issue is how. It will change only by our changing our semiotic fields and learning to better move according to it.
GLISTEN: I conjecture that the “whole planetary system” is undergoing metamorphosis into a metastable state which bears little resemblance to the patterns of life on earth that we have known to date. A whole systems integration and synthesis of organism and technology with their attendant life-support systemic requirements will emerge as a massively distributed, self-aware, sentient entity in the form of the whole system itself (all of which I have scant evidence of by the measure of the times we are in, however, when I take a deep look into the future I see things).
I agree with your vision of a coming metamorphosis, but am not clear about time frames relative to different “levels” for this emergence. My crude models of UPLIFT and Societal Metamorphosis claim that truly major changes can occur within decades, that will be accomplished by humans self-organizing in nu ways of DOING – without direct intervention by any “higher, spiritual” forces (such as forcing radical biological changes giving rise to new human “powers”). The change will come by nu human muscle coordination guided by nu semiotic structures (themselves created by coordinated muscle movements (keyboarding, talking, drawing, etc.). I leave it to NU, that nu emergent Humanity, to guide further emergence.
Humankind has been a cybog for millennia – an integration of applied collective knowledge (technology) and organism. The technology of technology is a more recent development, greatly accelerating the emergence. The rapid development of material technologies has masked the continuing essential role of organism technology (OLLO) and the emergent powers of tech-linked human brains.
We need to be more specific about “undergoing radical change into a metastable state”. All you are saying is that a change must be massive (Meta-Morphic) and that the new “state” will have a new kind of stability (Meta-Stable). You then characterize the state emerging as a “massively distributed, self-aware, and sentient ENTITY” – Humanity/Gaia (the whole system) in analogy being like a biological human with massively distributed cells with the whole being self-aware and sentient, as we view ourselves today. All this is still metaphor. What would be the dance of humans from today’s habitual patterns to become a new choreography?
Would we all become puppets with our strings pulled by spiritual angels? Unlikely; nor desirable. Might we ALL “awaken” with all the requisite knowledge and skills and choreographic scripts to perform? Again, unlikely.
Awakening (to a workable vision/strategy) is a process that begins small and spreads via OLLO reesee seaf galdee into a movement/organization. The change you envision will emerge over time – in a process analogous to your biological development from fertilized egg to baby. Except that there is no mother, there is a decaying civilization/caterpillar which the emergent humanity replaces. Some of what you envision will probably occur in the more distant future.
LARRY: My recent blog posts dance around a distinction slowly coming into focus. The distinction between a DOING Proposal and a Statement of Vision/Intent/Objective. As I survey so-called proposals for significant change EVERYWHERE, I have yet to find ONE that presents a SCENARIO OF DOINGS or a workable STRATEGY. A few recognize the need, like myself, and have the intention to design/construct a viable strategy. We create small strategy sketches, but something blocks the emergence of workable strategies.
- Many persons propose and strategically implement real-time projects with the hope that the consequence of their project’s success will result in a catalytic leap to overall systemic change. Unfortunately, the leap never occurs.
- Others simply state a set of future objectives to be somehow achieved by others, believing they are proposing an action plan. Most persons also confuse “objectives” and “goals” .
- My distinction: objectives are measurable outcomes from prescribed doings; goals are hoped accomplishments arising from the consequences of objective achievement.
- Objectives achievement is not Sufficient Action for Goal accomplishment.
I Goggled “achievement & accomplishment” and discovered a variety of different meanings. All point to a distinction (that is important) between two intentions. I encountered this valuable distinction many decades ago, as I started teaching at a community college and was given a paper by Thomas F. Gilbert on Mathetics. Mathetics is a pedagogical technology that may well be useful today.
- I see I have generalized the distinction; but Mathetics remains an intriguing technique. When an “accomplishment” is the end result of a sequence of “acquirements”, programmed self-instruction leads best by starting with the final acquirement and completed accomplishment, working backward towards the first acquirement of the sequence. It is the accomplishment that is valued, and the reward is gained after the first step.
- An example is teaching long division in arithmetic. Start with the problem all worked out except the last step. The learner takes that last step and accomplishes the operation. Then they get the problem again, but now with the last two steps to perform. In each performance the accomplish.
The problem/solution paradigm-for-doing prescribes designing projects that are as isolated from the rest of reality as possible. Setting up a problem involves reducing the number of significant variables. We define problems/solutions by pruning away the real world. This is a very useful approach to achieve objectives. But, the accomplishment of goals MUST consider the whole real world in which the objective achievements occur. Unfortunately, the distributed knowledge of objective achievement is seldom sufficient for goal accomplishment. Yet, most who dedicate themselves to their projects believe this myth – and probably necessarily so. Individual humans have their limits. What new groups are needed to take responsibility for the accomplishment of goals after successful objective achievement by other groups? Project participants, however, should appreciate the need of goal faciliators. Often consideration of goal accomplishment suggests changes in project objectives and operational design.
The concrete form for strategies must to a defined set of semiotic structures that are continually modified (with records of prior states) collaboratively by persons and teams who also learn to improve their competencies. They organize their collaborative behaviors, leading to improved “organization” of the strategy document. Note, there are two “organizations” – that of the persons and teams and that of their mutual product, the strategy document.
A STRATEGY must be a collectively created sem. It should include a SCRIPT to be PERFORMED. Performers should be included in script design. Evaluations must be designed and performed, for both: achievement of objectives and that performances were according to script. If objectives are not met, the reason could be: 1) the operational design was flawed, 2) the operational script was not correctly performed, or 3) a mix.
- The message exchange metaphor/paradigm for social media precludes the collaborative creation of concrete sem fields. Message exchange is TOTALLY ESSENTIAL to maintain the social pressure for collaboration. But, the necessary DOING cannot be achieved solely via message exchange.
- Minimally, a strategy must include sems from Project Design/Management Apps AND OLLO projects to prepare persons with the requisite competencies to use the apps. We need an app similar to Project Apps for later stages where the performance design has yet to be done. That is, Ventures and Enterprizes need to be “designed” where the participants are not persons, but teams or systems-of-teams – with their requisite competencies and objectives prescribed.
MORE ON STRATEGIES
As I compose, the conceptual scheme orbiting around the term “strategy” continues to change and emerge. Later, this will need to be more systemically explicated.
- STRATEGIES ARE SCAFFOLDING. They are places to visit and to modify. Scaffolding can include code and apps; as well as text about the structure and use of the scaffolding. Wikipedia is a scaffolding, but not a strategy.
- LARGE PROJECTS REQUIRE STRATEGY. Large construction projects all involve detailed strategies, using sophisticated Project Design/Management Software. Producing a movie or TV series requires strategy. Strategy may have been invented for military campaigns. Major corporate ventures require strategy. It appears that STRATEGY ENABLING SCAFFOLDING is a highly developed technology. What is common for all these strategies is that they are STRATEGIES FOR OBJECTIVES ACHIEVEMENT (which can be complex and extended for long time durations), and usually a singular project (which may be complex and have many sub-projects). These first order strategies have boundaries. Projects are related to Problems, which are to have Solutions (Project Strategies).
- STRATEGIES FOR GOAL ACCOMPLISHMENT. I suspect we lack adequate technologies for strategic accomplishment of goals; and more importantly complex goals – such as Saving Humankind and Birthing a Nu Humanity. These may be called Second Order Strategies, technologies to create Systems of First Order Strategies (including systems to seaf goal accomplishment).
- SECOND ORDER STRATEGIES ARE DISRUPTIVE. At a certain level a second order strategy will consider goals that would call for radical change in the societal systems sponsoring the strategy development. Strategy technology is today costly to employ – but it need not be if teams strategically planned to have strategy technology independent of power centers.
- NEEDED: SCAFFOLDING TO CREATE SCAFFOLDING. Our best examples of scaffolding for strategy have the production of a physical structure as their objective. For example, to design a factory system to manufacture a car. But, there will be needed organizational structures for the guidance of human activity (some with machines, others with other humans). They will need systems to promote, distribute and market the cars. Institutions are scaffolding; but they don’t necessarily have strategies nor may they have been created strategically.
- SECOND ORDER THINKING. We need to explore the conceptual schemes of “second order”. Over the years and decades there have been examples of second order thinking. Gregory Bateson was explicit about it; and as is Second Order Cybernetics. Yet, Second Order (or higher order) is not a ready tool in our technology. Indeed, in the USA the term “technology” has a strong bias towards physical technology. In other cultures the “techniques” of human systems is also viewed as a technology.