A State of Emergence

By Krishan LK Deeljore

As simplistic as it may sound, this ‘Giga-normous’ system which we like to call World has re-booted itself, reset to default settings and no one holds the manual; in fact there is no manual to set it back to its previous settings. Most experts even seem to believe that we will never actually go back to the previous settings. We will therefore inevitably see the Emergence of a post-coronavirus system. And for this to happen, we will need a Novel way of thinking and problem-solving which is beyond everything that we knew and understood about our previous world.

This is exactly why it is becoming less and less likely that an individual human mind will have the capacity to come up with the ground-breaking or miracle solution to make this all go away… not because we are not smart or wise enough, but because whatever we will think or design will always be biased by our past and present paradigms and constructs which have now become obsolete anyway. So where do we start?

What defines us as human beings is that we have the innate and primary ability to adapt to our external environment and find opportunity in adversity. Except that this time around we need to adopt a completely different approach, unlike anything that we have tried or tested (in this generation at least), but which is within all of us.

“The whole is greater than the sum of the parts” — Aristotle

What this quote probably means for us in this context is that we should be focusing on the Whole rather than on the individual parts of the system which have collapsed. Before reaching a state of Emergence, we must take a few steps to create the optimum conditions for this Novel design to Emerge:-

  1. We must understand and recognise the concept of ‘bottom-up’ intelligence and self-organising systems. A system which is made up of individually average components can collectively operate at an above average level and work in an extremely efficient manner without someone ‘in charge’: the ant colony, for example.
  2. We must separate the Whole from its parts. In engineering terms, when a system is broken, you must find the fault and fix that part of the system for the system to start working again. But when you want a new system, you cannot focus on the parts. The parts can also mean the different fields of research and business which we have created over the last 100 years.
  3. We must promote and foster intellectual alliances and coalitions; subject matter experts from different fields must come together and make their thoughts and ideas converge. We must break industry silos and leave egos aside, and come together with one common goal – go beyond ourselves to imagine and build a new system for at least the next 100 years.

Additional reading:
The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2007)
Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software by Steven Johnson (2001)

Krishan L.K Deeljore is the Founder and Managing Director of BI Instruments Ltd, a boutique consulting firm providing coaching and advisory services to SMEs in the Indian Ocean and East Africa region. Holder of a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and a Master’s in Business Administration, Krishan has more than 20 years of experience in Human Resources. During his career, he held Senior HR positions in multinational companies like Accenture and Barclays, and most recently Ciel Textile. His main areas of expertise are Performance Coaching, Talent Management and Managing Change.


* Published in print edition on 28 April 2020

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