Biology and systems

Richard Gayle has a great post on the difference between chemists and biologists as an example of different approaches to managing systems.

Life developed its huge complexity in order to be able to deal with changing surroundings. Any organism that could not rapidly adapt when circumstances arose would die. Times of rapid change selected for those animals that could deal with the changes. Complexity permits a wide response to a tremendous variety of stimuli. Command and control usually permits just a few.

You find very few hierarchical organisms. In fact if you map the interactions of the large group of proteins found in a cell if you examine their network you find that it looks eerily similar to two other networks that adapt to complex circumstances: human social networks and the Internet.

Gayle’s commenting in the context of the contrast between the Howard Dean and George Bush Presidential campaigns, but it’s also about command-and-control versus a less hierarchical approach to managing systems. Major brain food.

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