Mike Jay's Thoughts on Developmentalism
Business & Executive Coaching, Consulting and Leadership


It's not up...it's in silly.

I look to the future because that's where I'm going to spend the rest of my life. - George F. Burns, (1896 - 1996)

Last Updated January 2, 2015

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Emergence: A unifying theme for 21st century science

When electrons or atoms or individuals or societies interact with one another or their environment, the collective behavior of the whole is different from that of its parts. We call this resulting behavior emergent. Emergence thus refers to collective phenomena or behaviors in complex adaptive systems that are not present in their individual parts.

By David Pines, Co-Founder in Residence, Santa Fe Institute

Click here for article

Emergenics: The Role of Emergence in Development

"...the task is not so much to see what no one has yet seen, but to think what nobody yet has thought about that which everybody sees."


Clearly what I'm after is a practical way of using adult developmental theory in leadership. Yet, it is difficult to describe the indescribable...to simplify what can't be simplified. Leaders, unfortunately and in general are at a lot lower level of development than they give themselves credit for, so to speak.

In bringing adult developmental theory into the executive suite or small business boardroom, we have to help people both understand and embrace what developmentalists have been advocating for years--the use of development  and complexity science in enhancing the quality of decision-making.

Emergenics is a term for removing boundaries between linear and non-linear development. We have to begin to understand the tensions between nature's epigenetic rules and nurture's cultural forces in coevolving the way we talk and the way we walk in leadership. Emergenics attempts to provide a breeding ground for those concepts to become fully mature in the light of non-linear dynamics and emergence.

The Self is hidden in the hearts of all, as butter lies hidden in cream. -Shvetashvatara Upanishad

A photo of the lights on earth from a satellite

The Foundations of Emergenics

“We mean as we behave as we believe as we are.”


The essence and science of self-organizing theory + emergence + developmental theory have provided the alchemy of universal consilience and practice into a coherent cross-paradigmatic approach representing the partnership of biopscyhosocialeconomic metasystems. Stemming from likes of Clare W. Graves and the subsequent paradigm of Spiral Dynamics® to James Watson and the proliferation of DNA, we now have the language to bring about the consilience of art and science into the ability to look at problem solving through an integral, yet emergent lens to deal with emergent, non-linear complexity in leadership. Simply, if you want to improve results, understand emergent development.

"Everything that can be counted doesn't necessarily count; everything that counts can't necessarily be counted."

Albert Einstein

Executive Summary


Leaders are constantly faced with difficult choices---nothing new. However, what is different are the number of problems leaders are creating while attempting to solve complex problems. Change is doubling at an exponential rate. It is clear that most leaders are IN OVER THEIR HEADS. [Kegan, 1994] As a result, solving more problems faster is actually a strategy that is creating more problems--faster--we have seen the enemy and they are us. The rate of increase in complexity is far beyond the average hierarchical leader's capacity, capability and potential. This is not about intelligence, although in some ways it is...it is about having the tools and perspective to create a brain trust which solves more problems than it creates-using Emergenics--a cross-paradigmatic approach to leadership in the complex economy.

Complexity science. A new awareness of the ancient counterpart to order began over a century ago with Poincare´ and several others, and has surged in recent decades. In fact there is a fascinating kind of order in which no director or designer is in control but which emerges through the interaction of many entities. Emergent order has been found in many natural phenomena: bird-flocking behavior can be simulated on a computer through three simple rules; termites produce elegant nests through the operation of simple behaviors triggered by chemical traces; each snowflake is a unique pattern arising from the interactions of water particles during freezing.

The patterns that form are not controlled by a directing intelligence; they are self-organizing. The new science of complexity spawned by these findings is interdisciplinary, touching fields from mathematics to evolution to economics to meteorology to telecommunications. In the domain of emergent order, the goal “to predict (and thereby control) the behavior of systems not yet studied (but similar to those that have been studied) under conditions not yet extant and in time periods not yet experienced” is difficult if not impossible to achieve—but other goals are achievable.



Capacity, Capability & Potential

REMEMBER: The key to high performance is encapsulated in capacity, capability and potential.

Simply, in this model, capacity is the innate pre-wired ability + re-wired learned ability; capability is the amount of knowledge, skills and ability that are created in relation to that capacity and potential is the amount remaining of unused capacity, which can be optimized at increasingly higher levels as each layer of capacity is stretched over time.

Caveat: capacity is pre-wired, not hard-wired, yet for most people; pre-wired becomes hard-wired because they don't "practice" with increasing levels of standing motivation (motive energy or free energy available for application as a result of strengths-based actions). As a result of NOT learning outside of the "favored" learning system, capacity (inductive bias) is not stretched by increasing levels of capability...

...resulting in rewiring of potential to levels greater than pre-wired components. If in fact, pre-wired potential is ever reached at all. For most people, it is never reached, therefore never rewired. It's not a bad thing, it's just usually the case.

Each person has to decide whether they intend to push their own potential to capacity in whatever domain, for whatever reason. The first "rule" if there is one in leadership is that people "choose" their leadership style--consciously or unconsciously--or are chosen by it. No one can choose it for them...not a parent, a coach, a teacher, a leader, or a manager. "People have the right to be who they are," stated Clare W. Graves. There is honor in that.

Here’s an analogy.

Assume capacity is the glass.
Assume capability is the amount of water in the glass.
Assume potential is the amount of space left for water in the glass.

Now, what we are trying to do in performance and development is to create as much efficiency and effectiveness as possible with each effort towards a sustainable future. Effort is the only thing that most people control. With Effort comes perfect practice, the practice that is representative of high levels of standing motivation.

W. Edwards Deming identified 5 essential factors of performance:

• Innate Ability
• Individual Effort
• Performance Match/Training/Development
• Variation in the system
• Variation in the judgment in that system

The one factor under control by the individual; Effort.

However, not just effort in a performance situation, effort over time in many performance situations…in other words, practice; or action learning with increasing levels of standing motivation (free energy) to create resilience across all domains, not just physical effort, but integral effort using the relationship between capacity, capability and potential to identify openings.

Exerpted from the Mind Architect System

Conscious spirit and unconscious matter
Both have existed since the dawn of time,
With maya [illusion] appearing to connect them,
Misrepresenting joy as outside us.

When all these three are seen as one, the Self
Reveals his universal form and serves
as an instrument of the divine will.

-Shvetashvatara Upanishad

In my first entry into Fast Company Magazine's Annual 2002 Fast 50, I spoke about Generati, a paradigm, where in order for me to win, you must win and as a result, the third win for the collective is created.

"Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you." - Frederich Nietzsche

In my second entry into 2003 Fast 50, I brought your attention to the Developmentalist--a person who is as much concerned with their own development as the emerging need to "fix" others as in the current paradigm of coaching.

In this my third entry 2004, I share with you the r/evolution of generati through developmentalism as emergenics--the consilience of art and complexity science across paradigms to create better solutions through the employment of metaemergent principles.

The key to this r/evolution is that 1); we're not prepared for what is the unraveling of the developed world through globalization--the great metaequalizer. 2), change is occurring so rapidly that prediction of anything other than rapid change is alchemy. 3), leaders either will get with it, or be run over by it...whatever it is. 4), the concepts of identifying what the inherent issues are within change must be understood and implemented through emergence.

Clearly, this is not new, but it is relevant now. It is the new normal...to solve more problems than one creates; to deal with multiple constituencies in the next society; which are like oil and water.

"There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all."

Peter Drucker

No one I know whose leadership is succeeding is underestimating the confluence of globalization, the metaphase transition of the molecular economy and the naiveté we have produced through single, narrow points of view.

One only need open their eyes to the threads unraveling in the ropes supporting the net to get a real picture of why simplistic approaches to complexity are literally extending our education beyond our individual intelligence.

To make it simple, we have to embrace emergence and use our ability to up the downside in order to comprehend the escalation of complexity which will undermine current paradigms...so much so, we recreate the middle class standard of living in a way that is largely unpalatable for the consumtariat--the new standard for the global society's middle class. Without healthy consumers, healthy business is not possible or sustainable in any fashion.

Yet, the caveat?

Very few get it.

"In order to understand a system, you must first understand the system it fits into."

Howard Odum

While, we can't ask for wholesale change, although we'll get it in the end often through creative destruction [Schumpeter 1975]; we can ask for the few who do get it to go with it...to be empowered by the many to conduct the business of the few. Yet, most realize that some form of this delegation to operate society has an efficient side and inefficient side with the coming and going of poor, narrow, ego-based leadership.

NO, this is not your father's Oldsmobile either. The long-awaited equality we all have found and died for is lost...the changes present only magnify the current complexity--so much so; that keeping up, staying up and getting ahead are now more difficult than we have previously imagined. There is no turning back, but there is turning forward. clearly, what some expect, for an evolution in consciousness will not occur. Because people fail to realize that while our genome's, resultant brain and emergent mind is plastic...it comes with its own limitations.

The sad, but true prevalence of the humanist/blank slate movement has thrust us into the quandary of hoping for the impossible dream, the wholesale evolution of consciousness. While in terms of planetary time, it will occur, to see it in our time is quite naive. However, that doesn't stop the nurturists from pontificating about its arrival, no more than it prevents from the naturists from creating the opposite function.

Somewhere in the middle lies opportunity. In that space emergenics is available to those who can hold themselves in the tension between the poles of nature and nurture. For the record, I do believe we'll have a revolution in consciousness, but it will be in transhuman form, not with the current genome.

In the meantime...

Niall Shanks points out in God, The Devil, and Darwin, there is a third option:

…the recent study of nonequilibrium thermodynamics has revealed how natural mechanisms, operating in accord with natural laws, can result in the phenomenon of self-organization, whereby physical systems organize themselves into complex, highly ordered states. In addition to evolutionary mechanisms studied by biologists, there are thus other natural sources of ordered complexity operating in the universe. A person ignorant of such mechanisms might well conclude that supernatural causes are in operation where there are in fact none. (pp. 15-16)

Get this or lose:

Consider the agents, rules, tensions and conditionals--metasystematically--through an emergenics-informed lens or give up your lead.

"In Europe there is a mountain called Mount Blanc. On one side is France, on another face is Italy on a third is Germany on yet another is Switzerland. At the base, the mountain is wide, and there are numerous paths from each country that lead upwards, but as one nears the peak, there is less and less room and the paths converge until there is only one direction (up) and one path to the peak. When all arrive there, they will stand on the same square yard of ground."

Jeanne Claude Racinet

Leadership @ The Beginning

While I believe that Emergenics applies to all meaning-making, I’ll confine my discussion here to the reason for being in a context of getting things done and thus name it consilient problem solving.  The metaphysical case for Emergenics will be made over time, such as my hypothesis of the soul as an emergent property of human being, but suffice it say in this discussion that Emergenics is about leadership in complex times. 

The essential questions in the practice of leadership adapted from Clare W. Graves and Spiral Dynamics, 1996 are:


What is at Stake?

This meaning question serves to create the tension required for agents operating using simple rules based on a set of conditionals of if then and if and only if consequences either depicted through declaration, conjunctive, serial or parallel cognitive process [Jaques, 1998] stemming from the combinatorial effect of form, process, matter and meaning [Capra, 2002]. This effect produces the emergent drama we have all come to know as being, having, doing and becoming.  Again, metaphysical issues aside, let us begin by examining the forces interacting.

Control: an essential player in leadership









This basic control system dynamic allows scalable complexity through evolution as reported in The Phenomenon of Science, 1977:

         control of position = movement

         control of movement = irritability (simple reflex)

         control of irritability = (complex) reflex

         control of reflex = associating (conditional reflex)

         control of associating = human thinking (memory)

         control of human thinking = culture

A universally practical question logically follows?

         control of culture = ?

Seemingly, this is where Emergenics is required because evolution has adroitly scaled us into a form of complexity that no one can cope with in present form, and I say that tongue in cheek as forms will emerge that do control culture—unfortunately--however destructively.

The question to substitute in the control path above is where does meaning come from? 

Perhaps control of human thinking could be further framed with meaning-making thus bringing to the table the entire gamut of developmentalism

An entire body of knowledge basically maintained in education, psychology, medicine and ethics is suddenly coming mainstream through the theories of Don Beck, Robert Kegan, Ken Wilber, Kurt Fischer, Martin Seligman, Daniel Goleman, Bill Torbert, Richard Boyatzis, Michael LeDoux, Dalai Lama and Michael Commons stemming from work done by Graves, Piaget, Perry, Kohlberg, McClelland, and others in the wisdom traditions of eastern and western spirituality.

Like Neo in The Matrix, we make meaning from a number of simultaneous metasystems.  Each of these metasystems has formed frameworks (dissipative structures which organize from from equilibrium, but are stable) from emergence of simple control systems through self-organizing systems like in the diagram that follows.


Confusing cause and effect

In other words, we see what is a simple control system; evolving/devolving through an energetic phase transition with emergent properties unlike those of the individual parts. 

These more complex properties confuse us as to cause and effect. 

This is critical to understand if we don’t want to be victims of our own complexity.  If we understand complexity as the emergence of properties dislocated from the individual parts, we can begin to progress by working from the bottom-up rather than trying to deconstruct or reduce from the top down--ONLY.

I need to throw in a theory of downward causation here from F. Heylighen:

Read the following excerpted quote carefully.

“Reductionism can be defined as the belief that the behavior of a whole or system is completely determined by the behavior of the parts, elements or subsystems. In other words, if you know the laws governing the behavior of the parts, you should be able to deduce the laws governing the behavior of the whole.

Systems theory has always taken an anti-reductionist stance, noting that the whole is more than the sum of the parts. In other words, the whole has "emergent properties" which cannot be reduced to properties of the parts.

…the whole is to some degree constrained by the parts (upward causation), but at the same time the parts are to some degree constrained by the whole (downward causation).

The same principle applies to less rigid, mechanistic systems such as living organisms. You cannot have organisms whose internal functioning flouts the rules of physics and chemistry. However, the laws of physics are completely insufficient to determine which shapes or organizations will evolve in the living world. Once a particular biological organization has emerged, it will strongly constrain the behavior of its components.”


F. Heylighen


 "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."


Downward Causation and MetaEmergence

This concept in self-organizing metasystems or SOMS; depicted in the summary visually are key to guide Emergenics as a problem-solving system.  Guarding against being pulled into the gravitational field of causality in any direction is the secret to evaluating multiple streams of emergence leading to multiple streams of emergence, or metaemergence.

The reason that this concept is so difficult to grasp and conceptualize is because it is complex in nature and requires the ability to understand and process, as well as make meaning in parallel streams.  Michael Commons refers to this form of mental processing in his developmental theory as metasystematic. 

Emergenics is a cross-paradigmatic conceptualization, which will make it seemingly difficult for most practitioners to grasp. 

Emergenics is in fact, the interactions among the culture or cloud of metasystematic phase transitions into crossparadigmatic function. (term made popular by Russian Scientist Valentin Turchin, PhD ). 


Because, life conditions have presented us with a cloud or swirl of metaemergence; as a form of consilience.

It is no longer enough to understand systems theory. 

We must understand metasystems theory in order to deal with the art and science of metaemergent phase transitions.  The metaphysics of this hypothesis are enough to keep the spiritual thinkers busy for generations, the cross paradigmatic implications into a theory of no thing (nothing) are even more daunting.

Without digressing into theories that explain everything and nothing, let me digress by giving you the simple rules of metaemergence.

Leadership Climate and Emergenics

"Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning."

Gloria Steinem
Author and Journalist

In order to bring this back to life for social consideration, I’ve mapped the 6 factors of organizational climate identified in Leadership That Gets Results, 2002 to a fundamental approach to aliveness through form, process, matter and meaning.



In the snapshot above, I’ve also labeled the diagram respective of an integral approach as identified by Wilber as individual interior/exterior and collective interior/exterior as a holonic approach to consider any fractal and all fractals as holographic in nature.  What I mean by this is the core issue of holography; in each part contains the information of the whole, such as DNA.

As we consider the multiple streams that emerge into multiple streams that emerge in metaemergence, we have to be careful not to oversimplify what is actually occurring. 


In my experience people who fail to understand the complex emergent dynamics of these systems focus on surface manifestations and are fooled into form, process, matter and meaning that is insufficient to cope with the underlying agents, rules, tension and conditions produce metagents, metarules, metatension and metaconditionals which could not exist without the emergent properties of subsystems.

Merely taking a systemic approach to problem solving is flawed as the emergent manifestations of the combinatorial effects of those systems are creating metasystematic effects, far more complex than what appears through surface manifestations.

A Caveat

Most problem solving systems address the surface manifestations of these metaemergent properties through a narrow lens.  Emergenics is designed to be used in problem solving where surface manifestation is only a portion of the information used to identify the underlying dynamics, or emergenics of the problem.


When we examine the overriding territory of Emergenics we have to begin to consider a number of domains of effect: Personal, Business, Network and Professional.  These domains of effect provide us with lenses with which to view surface manifestations as well as the combinatorial effects of the agents, rules, tensions and conditionals.

Piaget explicated the figurative and operative functions less in terms of
domains and more in terms of process: Figurative aspects involve unreflective states
of knowing that are simply taken to be real, as in perceiving, mental imaging, and
imitating. Operative aspects involve the dynamic transformation of what is given and
the construction and coordination of knowledge, as in actions and the internalized
coordination of actions. For example, in mathematics—which Feldman identifies as
an example of purely operative knowing—numbers would be given as figurative to
the pre-operational child, while arithmetic operations such as adding, subtracting,
and multiplying would be operative. Figurative aspects of cognition focus on a given
set of entities apprehended in the world, while operative aspects apprehend the world
by coordinating these entities (which often results in the disclosing of new entities).

The dialectic between the figurative and operative knowledge is described in
Piaget’s (2000) explication of reflective abstraction, a process that derives knowledge
not from entities, but from the coordination of entities. The construction of more
encompassing and powerful cognitive abilities requires the interplay of figurative and
operative engagements with the world, resulting in the hierarchical emergence of new
knowledge via reflective abstraction.

Figurative and operative also contrast content and form, a distinction Piaget
maintained in his descriptions of the stages, which are defined primarily in terms of
actions or operations (as logical structures). http://lectica.info/images/Commentary.pdf

1We employ this term to indicate the process of abstraction Piaget refers to as ‘‘an uninterrupted alternation of projections-reflections-projections, and or contents-forms-re-elaborated contents new forms, and so forth, in ever-broadening domains, without end’’ (Piaget, 2000, pp. 305–306).

These combinatorial emergent properties/systems are in fact components of their own agents, rules, tensions and conditionals as fractals of the holographic system…each contributing their own effects—a system of systems is a simple way to think about these affects.


"No pressure, no diamonds."

Mary Case


Starting @ Square 1

Yet first, let’s review how we got here:


Let’s begin simply:




Add meaning and a reflective consciousness?

In order to bring this directly into application and out of theory, I’ve developed several tools that leaders can use to promote higher quality, bottom-up emergent opportunity. In order to help the practitioner identify whether the assumptions and beliefs that under gird their issues are fully considered, I use a metasystem to guide the emergence of agents, rules, tensions and conditionals.

When I’m explaining the system to people with no familiarity with these concepts I use what I originally called a bingo card.  Remember when you played bingo as a child or see it played now—blackout bingo—you place a bean on each square of a matrix.  Once you have all the squares covered, you holler, “bingo!”

In much the same way in problem solving, until you have almost all the squares accounted for you do not have the problem identified.  In order to produce higher quality decisions—the reason for Emergenics—we must properly identify all the constituents, including the effects, consequences and the leading indicators of resilience, or tensions.

In the following diagram I provide a diagram that metaphorically is closely aligned with Rubik’s Cube than it is a bingo, yet it provides the bingo card for those who can conceptualize one face of the cube at a time—a systemic approach.  Instead of using Wilber’s taxonomy of integral I adjust the integral business approach which includes the taxonomy of business—the Balanced Scorecard thesis from Kaplan and Norton, 1996 and avoiding establishing the linear dynamics, but use non-linear dynamics according to an equilibrium, versus stage in a line system used by Wilber.

Piaget’s claimed his stages were a heuristic device rather than a central component of his theory. Piaget clearly placed at the center of his theory the process of equilibration, which he saw as the ‘‘central problem of intellectual development’’ (Piaget, 1985), and reflective abstraction,1 a component of equilibration in which a person reflects and builds on earlier structures to create new,
qualitatively distinct, structures (Piaget, 1970a, 2000) at the center of his theoretical model.

...Reflective abstraction is the process by which a person reprocesses the knowledge produced through the coordinations in an existing (or less complex) structure by using it within the coordinations of a new (or more complex) structure (Piaget, 1970b). The output of one structure becomes the input for the subsequent structure,‘‘reflecting’’ upon the former. This deceptively simple idea not only conceptualizes the relations between structures in a nested hierarchy of increasingly powerful intellectual capabilities, but also reveals the generative process behind the
construction of unprecedented structures (i.e., emergence). Piaget held that the development of knowledge takes the ‘‘form of an uninterrupted sequence of reflective abstractions’’ and thus a developmental sequence (Piaget, 1972). He understood this concept as central in the process of cognitive development that generates the structures of intelligence (Campbell, 2001). http://lectica.info/images/Commentary.pdf

 "When a man begins to understand himself he begins to live.
When he begins to live he begins to understand his fellow men."

*Norvin McGranahan

The Integral Lens

In the snapshot above, I've drawn the matrix as static.  However it is not, it is dynamic and in motion, therefore the "boxes" are moving in relation to self-organization, conscious organization and unconscious organization in response to "factors." Each view, represents a state-space, where a snapshot can be taken of the current map of the territory. This map then can be used--in some ways--like the frame of a movie to understand in detail the particular "phase" that is available through the lens.

Once you introduce the dimensions of the cube, you then approach the level of metasystematic complexity of most social and organizational problems, if one could imagine an infinite number of Rubik’s cubes, or a running movie, whose composite face was represented in the macro through each of the squares above? Because of what Piaget called reflective abstraction and equilibrium

In the following excerpt from Requisite Organization, 1998.  The late Elliott Jaques illustrated the geometric representation of cognitive organization from John Isaac and Roland Gibson as I have done below. [In many ways this illustrates the relationships that occur through what Piaget called equilbration, or the process of reflective abstraction, which is the generative process behind emergence of new complex structures from less complex structures.]

Here is this valuable excerpt from the appendix of his book:


Level 1 is simply a single-dimensional straight line which relates (R) the person (subject S1) to the object (O1) on which he/she is operating. The relationship between person and object is continuous; the person modifies the object, and the changing object modifies what the person sees.

Level 2 is represented on the 2-dimensional plane by an angle, in which the person (S2) works on the object in a level-one way (1R2 ) while at the same time observing (R2) what is going on; i.e., has become reflective diagnostic.

Level 3 is still 2-dimensional represented by the next step up in geometric plane figures – the triangle. The person (S3) can now deal with a sequence of reflective relationships with the object, represented by the angle(s) now contained in the triangle – the envisioning of such sequence constituting a plan.

Level 4 now shifts from 2-dimensional plane figures to a 3-dimensional solid – the tetrahedron (you are looking down upon a pyramid). In this figure, the person (S4) now relates (R4) two triangles to each other- each triangle is a process, and the R4 constitutes parallel processing by means of paired comparison of interacting processes – the two triangles.

Level 5 is the most difficult to picture. It is a polyhedron made up of a large number of tetrahedra (pyramids) with the person at the center and the bases of the pyramids on the surface of the polyhedron. Change any tetrahedron and you change its base – and that leads to a readjustment of the whole surface of the polyhedron – vividly representing the level – 5 tasks of sensing the 2nd – and 3 rd – order consequences of any changes or decision.  

There is no level six, but imagine, as I’ve stated above that you could envision an infinite number of squares in squares as in metaemergence and you’re beginning to get the idea of why leaders today don’t have the brain power to deal with the problems they are creating!



The reason I included this geometric representation is to further draw your attention to the complexity involved in trying to model the complexity occurring in metaemergence.  The reason we may wish to be careful when viewing surface manifestations of emerging complexity is to avoid oversimplifying the solution from a narrow perspective and actually creating more problems than we solve; which is occurring now as we speak. 

It may be better to do nothing as the sages advise in the eastern spiritual traditions, if doing something is causing so many problems? I believe this is due to the mismatch between environmental demands and the capability in the structure in use resulting in low resilience. If low resilience is the case, then what occurs in my view, are event-based attempts at resolving tensions in the demand environment with inferior structural components. In other words, if the coping complexity (or intelligence let's say) is insufficiently matched to process complexity, then we end up with a partial solution which may even be more dangerous than doing nothing at all.

With a partial solution, we actually free up energy to create emergent conditions which may lead to unintended consequences, again which may be the result of and target of partial solutions, breaking off (in a visual analogy) parts of the problem and tossing it in a variety of state-spaces which may be vulnerable to the now-partial problem.

In a macro sense, imagine an asteroid coming at the earth as one piece. A partial solution is to split the asteroid into smaller pieces, yet in doing so we create multiple threats. While the state space of the original asteroid is now split into two smaller ones, we now have created what may be a bigger problem. Asteroids hitting at two places on the earth may be enough to collaboratively create an emergent phase transition that overwhelms a greater area.

In a micro point of view, a person drills a well to irrigate their farmland. This solution becomes a partial solution because the effects of thousands of farmers collectively drilling wells, may cause the overall resource to be exhausted. In this partial solution, when broken off from the collective seems viable, but the larger system effects create a much more dangerous problem that affects all people. By addressing the problem in too narrow of a perspective, the problem we solve actually creates a much larger unsolvable problem.

In the following summary of Foundation of Emergenics, I would like to provide the reader with a compass derived from a number of consilient models.  Again, to aid in the conceptualization of  metaemergence we have to view a systems of systems approach of a systems approach or a cross-paradigmatic set of perspectives that provide insights into the complexity of the issues presented to us in modern day leadership.

The compass analogy offers a multi-dimensional approach to considering multiple domains of effects through an integral lens or set of perspectives using as attractors; a variety of resilience indicators, value systems and an emergent set of consequences: Power, Accountability, Authority and Responsibility.  It is difficult to depict a multi-dimensional metasystematic emergence in only two dimensions, however I think you’ll see that it provides us with a set of rather oversimplified guidelines with which to consider as we move in the direction of the most leverage leadership issues.


In the diagram above, imagine that all systems are on a spinner if you will and that there is a constant flux of attractors and of course consequence tensions occurring as each system emerges holistically into and out of the others. (TIU stands for “theory in use”, or walk rather than “espoused theory”, or talk.)

That which has form emerges from that which has no form; that which has no form emerges from that which has form. Therefore the path of supreme spirituality cannot be sought in being and cannot be fathomed in nonbeing; it cannot be lost through movement and cannot be gained through stillness.

-Ming-Chiao, "Five Houses of Zen"

Learn the program of resilience behind the compass here.

In Summary

In the diagram below, I make a leap of faith that you can follow the introduction of yet another tool with which to identify and manage the tensions in this integral business space.  While simple, the diagram shows visually the agents, rules, tensions and conditionals existing in and among the various components of the interlocking systems creating metaemergence.

In summarizing Emergenics, I’ve identified the consilience of some essential studies as an organizational closed, yet energetically open system.

In the diagram above I’ve linked four –etics; two of which I named.

The first is Bemetics, the study of behavior as a set of self-reinforcing scripts that form conscious and unconscious repeatable patterns that can be observed and consequently replicated as behavior. 

The second is Denetics which applies to the identifiable constructs, or denes, that are used by developmentalists to score data based on scoring systems developed by systems represented by Kegan’s Subject/Object Interviewing System, The Sentence Completion Test (SCT) used by Loevinger and adapted for leadership profiling by Susanne Cook-Greuter; as well as the capability scoring matrix used by Jaques to categorize mental processing in leaders and the Hierarchical Scoring Manual by Commons, et al. 

All of these methods depend on identified and cataloged specific characteristics from spoken or written interviews, sentence completion or observation.  The categorizable characteristics I’ve named denes in order to bring about a lexicon to integrate the aspects of the theories alluded to above and to give shape to those that follow. 

In order to create actionable data, we have to provide a teachable point of view.  The use of denes provides us with nomenclature in which to cross-categorize the characteristics identified between and among these developmental classification systems.

Memetics is a study of memes. Memes are those elements of culture that many refer to as norms, but they are much more than just present in organization and in society.  They literally live as a result of their symbiotic relationship with humans, much like a virus, while not alive, using the living organism to replicate.  In all of these categorizations, each of these “etics” is a self-organizing emergent phenomena or noumena as replicated through phenomena.

Genetics becomes the final, yet primal building block of the Emergenics Foundation.  When we integrate these four metasystems into a metaemergent framework, we can begin to create meaningful perturbations instead of narrow interventions in living systems.

The Simple Version of the EMERGENIC CLOUD

In closing, I feel like I’ve done nothing more than tease the reader.

However, my intent is to provide an quick overview of the field of Emergenics and some of the constituent components as I’ve named them to identify the metaemergence of complexity. 

I’ve tried to show how life becomes complex and that as a result a degree of caution is necessary when approaching complex issues, even though it all points to form, process, matter and meaning through agents, simple rules, tensions and a fluctuating set of conditionals.

Leadership in business and organizations in a complex universal age of globalization is something to be considered as art and science.  Yet, there are many helpful tools available to the leader of the next society, of which Emergenics may be a helpful, cross-paradigmatic opportunity.

I’ll leave you with some tips I’ve adapted from Emergence, 2002.

         The more connections…the better

         Being Stupid is not so bad after all

         Random experience is encouraged

         Noticing patterns in the signs

         Ubuntu: pay attention to your neighbors

         Bottom-up…not top down leadership has opportunity!

And a simple set of rules to guide your reasoning in Emergenics:

  • Neighbor interaction
  • Pattern recognition
  • Feedback
  • Indirect control

To end, here are a set of admonitions by Lewis Thomas, 1973:

Most of all, we need to preserve the absolute unpredictability and total improbability of our connected minds…

…Joined together, the great mass of human minds around the earth seems to behave like a coherent, living system. 

…The trouble is that the flow of information is mostly one-way.

We are all obsessed by the need to feed information in, as fast as we can, but we lack sensing mechanisms for getting anything much back.

…I will confess that I have no more sense of what goes on in the mind of mankind than I have for the mind of an ant.  Come to think of it, this might be a good place to start.

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This summer learning program will literally blow your socks off.  A consilience of developmental theory, spiral dynamics integral, emergence and quantum theory designed to show you how to utilize cross-paradigmatic reasoning to solve difficult problems in a complex leadership environment.

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Creating the Resilient Spiral here

7 Rules of Engagement here

Blog Index: here



Bibliography II | Bibliography I here

Argyris, Chris, Flawed Advice and the Management Trap, Oxford University Press, 2000

Aczel, Amir, D., Entanglement, Four Walls Eight Windows, NY, 2001

Barabasi, Albert Lazlo, Linked: The New Science of Networks, Persus Publishing, 2002

Beck, D.E. and Cowan, C.C., Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership and Change, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford, 1996.

Capra, Fritjof,  The Hidden Connections, Doubleday, 2002

Commons, M. L., Danaher-Gilpin, D., Miller, P. M., & Goodheart, E. A.. (2002). Hierarchical Complexity Scoring System: How to Score Anything. Unpublished Scoring Manual Available from Dare Institute, Commons@tiac.net  

Commons ML, Funk J. (2004). [Review of Ronald Irwin's Human Development and the Spiritual Life: How Consciousness Grows toward Transformation, 2002, New
York:: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers]. Contemporary Psychology. 49, 176-179.

Cowan, Christopher C. and Todorovic, Natasha, Spiral Dynamics, the layers of human values in strategy, S t r a t e g y & L e a d e r s h i p  2 8 ,  2 0 0 0

Dawkins, Richard, The Selfish Gene, 1976

Amir D. Aczel, Entanglement, The Greatest Mystery in Physics, Four Walls Eight Windows, 2002

Johnson, Steven, Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software, Scribner, 2002

Johnson, Steven, Mind Wide Open, Scribner, 2004

Goleman, Daniel, Working With Emotional Intelligence.

Goleman,  Daniel, Leadership That Gets Results, Harvard Business Review Article: R00204  Pub. Date: March 01, 2000 

Graves, C.W., "Deterioration of work standards'', Harvard Business Review, September-October 1966

Graves, C.W., Levels of Existence: An Open System Theory of Values, Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Fall 1970, Vol 10.No.2 pp.131-155

Hawkins, David, Power vs. Force, Hay House, 2002

Jaques. Elliott, Cason Kathryn, Human Capability, Cason Hull, 1994

Johnson, Steven, Emergence, Scribner, NY, NY, 2004 2002

Johnson, Steven, MIND Wide OPEN, Scribner, NY, NY, 2004

Kaplan, Robert and Norton, David, The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action, Harvard Business School Press, 1996

Kegan, Robert, Lahey, Lisa, How the Way we Talk Can Change the Way We Work, Josey Bass, 2001

Koch, Richard, The Natural Laws of Business, Doubleday, NY, 2001

Marcus, Gary, The Birth of the Mind, Basic Books, NYC, NY, 2004

McClelland, David, Human Motivation, Cambridge University Press, 1987

Pinker, Stephen, The Blank Slate, Penguin Putnam, Inc. New York, NY, 2002

Reiss, Stephen, Who Am I?, Tarcher/Putnam, New York, New York, 2000

Ridley, Matt, Origins of Virtue, 1996

Ridley, Matt, Nature via Nurture, Harper Collins, New York, NY, 2003

Schumpeter, Joseph, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy New York: Harper, 1975

Shatte, Andrew, Reviech, Karen, The Resilience Factor, 2002

Wilber, Ken, Integral Psychology, 2000, Shambala Press, Boston, MA

Wilber, Ken, Kosmic Consciousness, 2003, Sound True Audio

Wilson, E. O., Consilience, 1998, Random House; Reprint edition (April 1999)

Zheng Yan, Kurt Fischer, Always Under Construction: Dynamic Variations in Adult Cognitive Microdevelopment, paper

Read this far? View a composite of Resilience in view of an Emergenic System


Evolutionary Psychology for the Common Person http://www.evoyage.com/

First Published Oct 1, 2003

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