Technological innovations and digital transformation initiatives are difficult to adopt. Some of the leading hurdles are culture, archaic IT systems, lack of skills, and lack of a clear leadership vision. During my last years in the Army, I had the opportunity to develop various strategic visions and organizational mission statements that were focused on delivering disruptive technologies and digitally transforming enterprises. Now that I am transitioning from the Army, I had time to reflect on the outcomes of these visions and learned some lessons along the way. The purpose of this article is to share these lessons and describe how I used systems thinking as a foundation to my leadership style, the culture I fostered, and the management of my efforts to achieve strategic outcomes. First, I will introduce systems thinking, then provide references to the various mission and vision documents I created and conclude with the lessons I learned.
When does an animal become a pest? The distinction between pest and not-pest is explored in Bethany Brookshire's book, titled, Pests. Her work shows that there is a lot of effort and systems created to eradicate pests, so the distinction is not meaningless or merely semantic. It seems, that humans collectively strive to keep pests away through a variety of means from traps to poison to fences.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 23, 2022 — Drs. Derek and Laura Cabrera, along with Elena Cabrera, of Cabrera Research Lab and Cornell University have published a new peer-reviewed article entitled, Distinctions Organize Information in Mind and Nature: Empirical Findings of Identity–Other Distinctions (D) in Cognitive and Material Complexity in the journal Systems.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 4, 2022 — Drs. Derek and Laura Cabrera, along with Elena Cabrera, of Cabrera Research Lab and Cornell University have published a new peer-reviewed article entitled, The “Fish Tank” Experiments: Metacognitive Awareness of Distinctions, Systems, Relationships, and Perspectives (DSRP) Significantly Increases Cognitive Complexity in the journal Systems.
For decades I have built much of my understanding of reality on dialectical materialism and systems thinking learned from systems thinkers and scientists before me. Maybe the most important of them was Dr. Edwards Deming. He created the “System of Profound Knowledge” (SoPK), which contains basic lessons for people who have worked with Total Quality Management (TQM), Six Sigma, and Lean (Toyota Production Systems). SoPK consists of four ways of "seeing" and understanding the world. Dr. Deming called them "lenses".
This blog has been partially adapted from A Literature Review of the Universal and Atomic Elements of Complex Cognition. The Systems pattern (5) (the interaction between the elements part and whole) exists in mind and nature. Nature (a.k.a., reality) organizes parts into wholes; so, in order for humans to adequately describe nature, we should, too. Humans naturally systematize things by breaking them down into parts and wholes automatically, which often leads to the creation of "groupings" or what we often erroneously call "categories." However, categories require something else: a Perspective.
This blog has been partially adapted from A Literature Review of the Universal and Atomic Elements of Complex Cognition. You cannot feel empathy without taking perspective. Empathy is "the ability to understand and share the feelings of another ." It was once thought to be unique to humans, but empathy is found in a variety of organisms.
This blog has been partially adapted from A Literature Review of the Universal and Atomic Elements of Complex Cognition. When you picture things that think, a slime mold probably wouldn't be the first organism to jump to mind. However, research has shown that you don't necessarily need a brain to think; in other words, non-neural organisms can think. Previously, we discussed how chemotaxis is an inherently DSRP-based process which allows bacteria and cells to make distinctions, build systems, recognize relationships, and take perspectives. As research has shown, slime molds can do DSRP too.
This blog has been partially adapted from A Literature Review of the Universal and Atomic Elements of Complex Cognition. Like a pack of wolves, tiny bacteria band together to hunt their evasive prey. In the soil underfoot, a nematode (“round worm”) avoids a deadly chemical. A cell runs toward oxygen to take part in photosynthesis and make the planet habitable by humans. Brightly colored water droplets animate and chase each other across a glass landscape. These are a few of the amazing microscopic dramas that occur just out of range of sight. Microbes and even non-living molecules use DSRP to sense and respond to their environment in a process called chemotaxis.
There are moments in life when we instinctively know that our life is changing and that a corollary transformation of ourselves is underway. I am sure that every parent remembers with great clarity the moment that the totality of becoming a parent hit them. Never is there such a crystallization of absolute joy and heart stopping fear. The enormity of the responsibility of parenthood weighs on us before a child arrives in our home. Yet, we embrace the joy, face that fear, and take the responsibility head on to do what our instincts tell us to do as biological beings raising our young.