|2003-01-23 20:41, by Julie Solheim-Roe
"If you don't think that something as common as the plastic Visa credit card in your wallet could be part of evolution's plan, consider this: From Transformation by Design/ An Interview with Dee Hock by Melissa Hoffman for 'What is Enlightment' Magazine.
Visa International ... espouses no political, economic, social or legal theory, thus transcending language, custom, politics and culture to successfully connect a bewildering variety of more than 21,000 financial institutions,16 million merchants and 800 million people in 300 countries and territories. Annual volume of $1.4 trillion continues to grow in excess of twenty percent compounded annually. A staff of about three thousand people scattered in twenty-one offices in thirteen countries on four continents provides ... around-the-clock operation of two global electronic communication systems with thousands of data centers communicating through nine million miles of fiber-optic cable. Its electronic systems clear more transactions in one week than the Federal Reserve System does in a year."(SNIP)
"The Chaordic Commons (www.chaordic.org), explains this phenomenon in captivating detail. Principally, a chaordic organization is a self-organizing and self-evolving entity, which ends up looking more like a neural network (like the Internet) than a hierarchically-organized bureaucracy in which decision-making power is centralized at the top and trickles down through a series of well-regulated departments and managers. Chaordic organizations do not fear change or innovation. They are, by their very nature, supremely adaptive. They also tend to be inclusive, multicentric, and distributive and, ultimately, strongly cohesive due to their unshakable focus on common purpose and core principles. If you can't quite visualize it, there's a good reason, which Hock will explain in the following interview."
And in the interview this brilliant picture explained:
I use two different examples to try to get people to understand this: one called "float" and one called "CRUSTTI," which is an acronym for the Capacity to Receive, Utilize, Store, Transform, and Transmit Information. You can probably remember the days when a check would often take weeks to find its way through the banking system. That was called "float." This float was used as an early form of venture capital. Now, stop and think about other kinds of float. Think about information float (this is what Beck is speaking about): if you go back just a few centuries, it took, for example, almost a century for the knowledge about the smelting of iron ore to cross one continent. That brought in the Iron Age. When we landed on the moon, it was known and seen in every corner of the world in 1.4 seconds. Think about technological float: it took centuries for the wheel to gain universal acceptance. Now any microchip device can be in use around the world in weeks. Think about cultural float: it used to take centuries for one culture to even learn about or be exposed to a tiny bit of information about another. And now anything that becomes popular anywhere in the world can sweep through other countries in weeks. Consider space float: in just one long lifetime, a hundred years or so, we've gone from the speed of the horse to interstellar travel. People and materials now move in minutes when they used to move in months. And even life float the time it takes to evolve new life-forms is collapsing with genetic engineering.
What all this means is the loss of change float the time between what was and what is going to be, between the past and the future so the past then becomes ever less predictive, the future ever less predictable, and everything is accelerating change with one exception: our institutions. There has been no truly new concept of organization since the ideas of nation-state and corporation emerged several centuries ago.
Now even more important and you have to think hard about this is the history of what I call the "capacity to receive, utilize, store, transform, and transmit information." If you go back to the first single-cell form of life, it clearly possessed the capacity to receive, to utilize, to store, to transform, and to transmit information. This capacity even precedes the cell, for that's the very definition of DNA. So the key to understanding what Beck is speaking about is that the greater the capacity of any entity or organization to receive, utilize, store, transform, and transmit information, the more diverse and complex the entity. You can track this capacity from particle to neutrino to nucleus to atom to amino acid to protein to molecule to cell to organ and to organism. Or the phrase I like to use: from bacteria to bee to bat to bird to buffalo right on through to the baseball player.
And evolution went on, and in time this ability to receive, utilize, store, transform, and transmit information escaped the individual entity and became shared as the song of birds, the sonar of bats, the pheromone of ants, or the language of humans. With the capacity to communicate, immediately came the evolution of complex communities of organisms: hives, flocks, tribes, herds, whatever. Language was a huge expansion of that capacity to deal with information. And immediately you had a huge leap in societal complexity. With mathematics, the first global language, you had the same thinga huge increase in societal diversity and complexity. With the printing press came the capacity to include that which can be mechanically recorded and transported. Then the telegraph brought electronic capacity, and the telephone brought phonic capacity, and television brought visual capacity. Every single one of those expansions was immediately followed by a huge leap in societal complexity.
All of a sudden, just within the last three decades with the emergence of micro technology, we have on the order of a thousand times better algorithms, five hundred thousand times more computing power per individual, and five hundred million times more mobility of information. As I like to say, the entire collective memory of the species that means all known and recorded information is going to be just a few keystrokes away in a matter of years. Now, what does that explosion in the capacity to receive, utilize, store, transform, and transmit information mean for organizational forms and for the complexity and diversity of our problems?
But that's nothing. Take nanotechnology which in simple language is the engineering of self-replicating computers and assembly machines so tiny they can arrange atoms as though they were bricks that's the way that we're going to be constructing organs, organisms, products, and services within three or four decades. With nano technology, information will move in speed and quantities hundreds, perhaps thousands, of times greater than it moves today, okay? And equally important, each such change brings an equal increase in our power to alter and destroy nature. That's where we are. So unless evolution has totally changed its ways, we're going to face an explosion of societal diversity and complexity, and a disruption of biological systems, enormously greater than we now experience or can yet imagine. The essential question then becomes: Can we deal with it with the same old seventeenth-century mechanistic command-and-control forms of organizations? There's not a snowball's chance in hell. I always tell my audiences, if you think this change isn't going to happen, or isn't happening, or that you can prevent it, or that you can operate in the old way and not deal with it, just try to remember the last time evolution rang your telephone number and asked your permission. It is going to happen. But there are two ways it could happen. We can continue to perpetuate these old forms and try to make the world behave in accordance with our old mechanistic internal model of reality, or we can change our internal model of reality. The first is not only foolish, it's futile. The second is difficult, but it is essential if we are to have a livable world.