You can't beat the system

The group loyalty and individual sacrifice that are an inherent part of "SICU SOS" (Self Organisating Systems) can only exist in an environment of complete trust. Altruism doesn't survive inequitable contexts. Leadership is essentially exploration, and hierachical systems, in practice, are extremely prone to corruption because they are based on reward and fear. Capitalism is crowded with people trying to 'beat the system'.

Eyes right!

We have moved toward a rethink of capitalism. We are more than fifty years from the conflict that divided Europe. It was a conflict that cemented the idea of hierarchical control of systems into our society - the military pyramid of decision making and orders, where information flows down from the brass to the cannon-fodder. The older generation of European managers grew up in a post-war society based on hierachy.

Most companies still function as hierachical systems. So do governments. Even advertising is still based on the seminal work of the greatest brand manager of all time - Joseph Goebbels.

Culture unites while business divides

In nature, this depends on which microscope you are using. Look at a colony of ants and it's true. Look at the colony of feeding, and it's not true. Look at the whole ecological system and it's true again.

In the New Economy, we need to look again at the whole ecology of business - the Gestalt.


Thanks to the Greeks, the classic occidental way to learn is the reductionist approach of giving everything a name or a number and categorising it. It's all very logical, like a computer, and totally hierarchical. It's the military approach to learning.

Take a flow chart. All those lovely boxes connected to each other, making the whole system easy to understand. But defining a box means that you edit, you exclude. You leave out all the interesting stuff BETWEEN the boxes. It may not at all be useful, but it is all part of the ecology of the system.

The data sculptor can work in two ways. Starting from nothing and building up the sculptor bit by bit. Or the gestalt way is to start with a huge block and chip away what you don't need.

The gestalt is the whole system. Very oriental.

A gestalt flowchart would like rather like the surface of a pond during light rain. The drops of water are events - impacts on the surface. The event create ripples which spread concentrically and meet other waves. Where waves intersect there's an interference pattern which creates new waves at new frequencies. It sounds a lot like an SOS (Self Organising System). And indeed it is, with each drop interacting with it's neighbours. It is also a better way to visualise the business of the future (SICU).

If you want to see SOS in action today, check out artists, musicians or writers. Most of them have to live an a hybrid system - using the hierarchy to survive financially and the SOS to create. Artists don't interact with each other by meetings, agendas, flowcharts or even analysis. They create ripples ehich interfere with neighbouring ripples.

The long term survival of our society depends on culture not business.
Business is just sanitary plumbing. It's a way of handling stuff that stinks, but we'll only notice the smell when there's a leak.

Look at nature

Look at nature to find useful analogies for business. Evolution has tried and tested million of variant strategies. Take hibernation, for instance. It's one way of surviving low food periods. There are a few dot.coms that could use the strategy of hibernation right now. Put the company to sleep till summer comes again. Sadly, comany law makes it all impossible to hibernate. For most companies today, exponential growth is still the only way to go. That is not a strategy that works well in Nature. It usually leads to blight.

What we need is organic evolution - variation followed by selection. The problem is, that peole don't have time for evolution any more. Man is still a stone age physiology in a new cyber-mechanical environment. To survive we must either evolve or slow down change. Neither seems possible, unless we accept genetic manipulation.

Richard Stanley is a consultant and lecturer on communications. He is also the co-conspirator in the Mother of all virtual reality companies - Bonk Business Inc.. "BBI is a century old multiglobal industrial conglomerate pioneering Third Millennium technologies such as NBlack Holes, Defunctioned machinery, Cosmic Therapy and Hyperactive Media".

Richard is a global partner of SICU SSG living in Tuusula and operating in and from Helsinki, Finland

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