Sailing Close to the Edge of Chaos

This story shows what can happen when you sow dangerous ideas within the community. The edge of chaos is the point at which a complex adaptive system (CAS) encounters unforeseen novelty. Some systems are complicated but not adaptive. Take an internal combustion engine. Its range of outcomes is very limited. It is not free to adapt or transform itself. An adaptive system is able to respond to novelty without losing its shape or direction. Many of the important systems in our lives are CAS. These include the stock markets, our brains, ecosystems, the Internet, democracies, and some organizations.

A networked organization with shared values and independent affiliates is a CAS ripe for adaptation at “the edge of ...

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