Applied New Science LLC
Rochester, MN USA
Registered: Apr 2005
A New Kind of Scientist in a Traditional Scientific Community.
I'm intrigued by Stephen Wolfram's creation of NKS outside of the traditional scientific community, see the NKS book preface page xii.
In my early years I was very much a part of the traditional scientific community. But had I remained there I have little doubt that I would never have been able to create something of the magnitude that I describe in this book.
I'd love to hear others thoughts on the potential to create new kinds of scientific organizations as well as new science career paths. While it might be tempting to think of this as an application of NKS to social, organizational, or managerial science, perhaps we are better off starting with the decidedly Old Kind of Science (OKS) framework already extensively developed for these fields. For example, influenced by the OKS notion of control systems and feedback loops, Chris Argyris proposed and many others have elaborated the application of double-loop learning to organizations, see page 85 in Chapter 3 of his 1985 book Action Science (980 KB PDF file).
Single-Loop and Double-Loop Learning.
When the consequences of an action strategy are as the agent intends, then there is a match between intention and outcome, and the theory-in-use of the agent is confirmed. If the consequences are unintended, and especially if they are counterproductive, there is a mismatch or an error. The first response to error is typically to search for another action strategy that will satisfy the same governing variables. [...] In such a case, when new action strategies are used in the service of the same governing variables, we speak of single-loop learning.
Another possibility is to change the governing variables themselves. [...] In such cases we speak of double-loop learning.
For a more recent example of OKS and feedback, see Section VI. Systems Thinking, Part G. Delays, in Kai Larsen's online 1996 article Learning Organizations, and other articles on Robert Bacal's Web site.
Sound systems thinking requires the utilization of a combination of reinforcing and balancing feedback loops, and the accurate identification of delays. Complex systems are composed of multiple feedback loops laid upon one another. Often, the behavior of the variables in these systems can only be understood through simulation. But, before we discuss simulation, let’s recognize the existence of certain archetypal structures which are commonly found, and for which behaviors are already well understood.
Granted, such existing theories of organizational development don't engage NKS in any deep or perhaps even superficial way. But, why not engage the NKS community in thinking about its own organization? It is the NKS community itself that could best develop an NKS-like "theory-in-use" of its own behavior.
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