Home Organizational Psychology System Dynamics / Complexity Leading into the Future VIII: Language and Segmentalism

Leading into the Future VIII: Language and Segmentalism

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Physical scientists have suggested several different labels for the diverse and unpredictable systems that Drucker and many postmodernists have described. Many physical scientists consider these systems to be chaotic. They are justifiably identified as chaotic because behavior inside each system and between systems is neither predictable nor readily described. In recent years, however, the term chaotic has been reserved for systems that are much less coherent and structured than the world political/economic system described by Drucker and the postmodernists. The three-sphere world of Peter Drucker is more accurately identified as a complex or turbulent system in which domains of order (the dynamics operating within any one of the three spheres) are intermixed with domains of chaos (the dynamics operating between the three spheres). Highly complex systems are perhaps even more difficult to comprehend than chaotic systems, given that they seduce us with moments of rationality and clarity only to dart away into other moments of insanity and confusion.

This recognition of complexity in the contemporary world system—and the accompanying interplay between globalization and segmentalization is perhaps most vividly demonstrated in the attempts that have been made over the past half century to create accurate computer-models of the economic, political and environmental dynamics of our world. Many of the high-powered computer-models of our world ( the models developed by Jay Forrester and his colleagues at M.I.T and Dartmouth College) have been highly successful in predicting and describing the general trends in our postmodern world.[xii] They have not been very successful, however, when it comes to predicting the precise impact of global events (such as the availability of food or temperature changes) on specific geographic regions or societies in the world.

Global computer-based models have now generally been replaced by models that acknowledge broad worldwide dynamics, while also recognizing that each of these dynamics plays out somewhat differently and at a different rate in each of several geographic regions of the world.[xiii] While Forrester and his colleagues (notably Donella and Dennis Meadows) attempted to build a unified, world-based model of various ecological dynamics, Mesarovic and Pestel described and modeled a world in which subsystems offer their own distinctive, self-organizing dynamics.[xiv]  We find this kind of modeling today in the forecasting of pandemic outbreaks. There is a general world-wide forecast of outbreak levels (and deaths) over an extended period of time, and then specific national (and even sub-national) forecasts that take into consideration political and cultural differences between countries.

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