Self-organising complex marketing systems LO26551

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 04/20/01

Replying to LO26499 --

Dear Organlearners,

Chris Klopper < > writes

>Over the last number of weeks I mined the archives to develop
>my own understanding of just what it means to talk about the
>Self-organisation of Complex Marketing Systems. The result
>leaves me breathless.
>I have just reached a new personal height in my own understanding
>of Marketing as a self-organising complex system. It might only be
>the first rung on the ladder, but still I owe a deep debt of gratitude to
>all who contribute to this discussion list. This 'new understanding' also
>gave birth to some tools which I used to retrospectively analyse the
>emergence of the cellular industry. I would like to share the result of
>this analysis as an exemplar of 7E thinking. The tools are still too crude
>and blunt to show off in discerning company :>).

Greetings dear Chris,

Thank you very much for your contribution which afforded me many hours of
deep thinking.

In terms of the essentiality sureness ("identity-categoricity") I think we
have to discern for any kind of system (eg. market, education, health)
between its self-organising type and all the other types. We might call
all the latter "pseudo self-organising" types, but with this name I do not
want to give the impression that we may neglect them. We should rather
study them just as much as the self-organising type so that the
differences between them and the self-organising type may help us to
establish the categorical identity of the self-organising type.

Since every system's entropy is manifested in that system's organisation
involving its structures and processes, the system's entropy has to change
for any organisational change in the system to happen. The necessary
condition for any self-organising system is that its organisational
changes rely more on the irreversible production of entropy within itself
than on a reversible importation of entropy produced somewhere else
irreversibly. The "pseudo self-organising" types of any kind of system
rely more on the reversible importation of entropy. But please note two
* Entropy can never be produced reversibly, although it can be imported
* Entropy is always "sits on energy" as "form sits on content. In order to
keep this contribution within bounds, I will keep the energy dimension tacit.

Let me give you an example. My body is a self-organising system of the
physiological kind. The heart and lungs in my body are two major entropy
producing organs. They use the free energy produced by my digestive system
to do so. However, should they begin to fail so that I have to be
connected to an external "heart-lung machine" which will take over their
functions, then my body has been changed into a "pseudo self-organising"
physiological system. The "heart-lung machine" outside my body is now
producing entropy irreversibly. It is uses the free energy from
electricity generated elsewhere to do so. This entropy is then imported
reversibly into my body via my blood flowing in the connecting tubes.

Dear fellow learners, whenever you have difficulty to follow any of the
explanations below, go back to this example above and contemplate it once

With this example I have moved into one of hottest ethical problems of
present times. Should an ill patient be kept alive by an external life
supporting system, can that supporting system be shut off so that
consequently the patient will die?

But Chris, I want to move to an equally hot economical problem of present
times, one which I know makes your own consultancy work very difficult as
well as courageous. During the years of apartheid the agricultural market
of South Africa was supported by many external (para-governmental)
systems. I also have to mention that the far majority of farmers during
apartheid years producing more food than for their own consumption were
white. Consequently, with the coming of the New South Africa, almost all
of these support systems have been dismantled because of suspicions that
these systems helped white farmers to maintain a superior position over
black farmers -- "the playing fields have to be levelled" as the blacks
now in power usually say.

The consequences of this dismantling of the support systems for the
agricultural system have been most dramatic. The farming system had to
change from a "pseudo self-organising" system reversibly supported by
external systems into a self-organising system with its own irreversible
entropy production. Obviously, since there are few, if any, white farmers
who have even heard of irreversible self-organisation, they were flung
into making intuitively vast organisational changes to their farming
system. Some seem to be succeeding, but many have gone bankrupt or are
still experiencing great miseries. Furthermore, the dismantling of these
support systems also were not beneficial to the black farmers as were
expected. Why? Have "the playing fields not been levelled"?

The answer is that South Africa is part of the global economy. Those South
African farmers who want to export their products, have to compete with
the agricultural systems of other countries kept alive by an even vaster
array of external supporting systems than our own during the apartheid
years. In other words, whereas South African farmers (black and white)
have to self-organise irreversibly to stay alive, the farmers of the
lucrative markets are kept alive by an inundation of entropy produced
elsewhere in their country. The South African white farmers were like ill
patients from which all the life supporting systems had been taken away
suddenly. Some became healthy, some are still traumatised and many have
since died. The domino effect of losing jobs provided by the agricultural
system had been staggering, making our country even less attractive for
foreign investment.

But farmers of the lucrative markets are still treated as ill patients
needing supporting systems to keep them alive. What they and their fellow
country people do not realise just as South African white farmers never
realised, is that their future may change drastically because of some
peculiar event. The external supporting systems of their farming system
may become dismantled within months. What had happened to South African
farmers, will happen to them sooner or later. The trauma of the South
African farmers was triggered by the struggle against racism going with
apartheid. Something else or perhaps the very struggle against racism may
trigger their own trauma. If it something else, what might it be?

Let us go back to the South African scene to see if we can find any clues
there? During apartheid, most blacks who wanted to improve their lives,
had irreversible self-organisation as their only option. Although their
output as such could not be compared to the whites with their "pseudo
self-organisation", through their experience they gained in valuable tacit
knowledge on irreversible self-organisation. This is for me one of the
main reasons why they had been able to take the political power from the
whites, although many commentators claim that their vast numbers did the

However, blacks were promised by black politicians just as the white
voters were promised by white politicians that their lives will become
greatly improved once they vote for them. That improvement would become as
easy and simple as making a X against the name of the candidate with the
biggest promises. This candidate, once in power, would then organise the
improvement so that the voters would not have to self-organise their
improvement any more. Consequently the tacit knowledge of black people on
irreversible self-organisation became constrained by the ensuing Mental
Model of "Votes will support future organisation"-- making the democratic
vote X will bring desired organisational changes about since the
politicians will support the voters in reverse because the voters
supported the politicians in the first place.

It is really crazy, thinking that making an X in an appropriate label,
whether it would be a voting list in politics or a multiple choice
questionnaire in education, would instigate vast improvements. Not even
the rock painters thousands of years ago in South Africa had such a crazy

Eight years have gone by and very little of the vast promises have been
actualised. Why? Most of these vast promises had been of a "pseudo
self-organising"nature. Hence they involved external support systems just
like the ill patient connected to a "heart-lung machine". None of the
black politicians were willing to admit, if not completely ignorant about
it since they had not the political experience, that the support systems
involved in their promises did not have sufficient free energy to produce
entropy self which then could be exported to the voter. Much the same
applied to the white politicians and white voters especially during the
last ten years of apartheid.

The only difference is that these white politicians became aware that the
support systems involved in their promises were failing increasingly.
However, they kept quiet about it, perhaps hoping that some miracle would
keep apartheid alive and thus them in power. Its only now, some eight
years after having gained by experience sufficient tacit knowledge on
irreversible self-organisation, that white people are beginning to realise
how empty these promises made to them were. How did whites gain these

Present policies such as "affirmative action" and "black empowerment" have
cut of many support systems for many whites in most walks (like economy,
art and government) of life. Thus these whites had to transform from the
luxury of "pseudo self-organisation" to lean irreversible
self-organisation in whatever walk of life so as to sustain their living
or lse slide back into the miseries of poverty. However, their successes
have become an object of envy and anger to blacks rather than an example
of what they ought to have kept on doing self after having gained
political power. Thus, as soon as an irreversible self-organising white
person causes a destructive immergence in which a black person is involved
rather than the usual constructive emergence expected and envied, the
anger of thousands black people flare up against such a white person. They
then usually organise vast demonstrations demanding justice, even though
such demonstrations often result in vast destructions which dwarf the
original destructive immergence which had triggered it.

The sad thing is that in the aftermath both black and white politicians
accuse each other's side of racism. They all even go so far as to identify
racism as the cause of the original destructive immergence which triggered
the political unrest. They do it because another Mental Model ("Other
races cause social problems") is very common among South Africans. This
Mental Model together with the Mental Model "Votes will support future
organisation" constrain their thinking so much that they become incapable
of delving deeper into the complexity of organisations. This complexity
involves, among other things, irreversible self-organisation and "pseudo
self-organisation" as I have tried to explain above.

So, what might trigger the demise of the support systems in the
agricultural systems of the lucrative markets, making them "pseudo
self-organising" rather than irreversible self-organising markets? I
suspect it will be politicians either ignorant or keeping silent on the
fact that it becomes increasingly difficult to sustain the entropy
production of these support systems as well as transporting reversibly
that entropy into the farming systems themselves. They keep on making
promises to their voters based on /_\(rev)S(sy) rather than /_\(irr)S(sy).
They have good reason to do so. A "pseudo self-organising"system depending
mainly on /_\(rev)S(sy) and thus invoking by necessity external support
systems, can produce spectacular results in a very short time PROVIDED
there are sufficient free energy for and resilience in these support
systems to sustain their massive entropy production. Nothing is as
compelling as promising spectacular results.

However an increasing fraction of people in every democratic country are
becoming aware of the Mental Model "Votes will support future
organisation". At present most of them are still using this Mental Model
to force politicians to live up to their promises. But eventually they
will recognise this Mental Model exactly for what it is doing. It
constrains their own authentic learning and thus their capacity to
self-organise irreversibly. Once they become aware of the Law of Requisite
Complexity, they will begin to organise vast changes.

Here in South Africa politicians, both black and white, accuse many white
voters that they have developed a dreadful apathy towards party politics
and the democratic system of government. Some politicians even accuse them
of trying to live up to apartheid in their local walks of life even though
apartheid has failed on the national walks of life. I myself am pretty
sure that it is neither an apathy nor a shrinking of apartheid to the
smallest scale possible. It is for the majority of these white voters
rather a case of, having experienced for some years now irreversible
self-organisation to sustain the life which they want, that they are
beginning to reflect inwardly on their tacit knowledge gained by such

>A thorough Industry Analysis using the Five Competitive Forces
>model suggested by Michael Porter will show just how OPEN the
>industry was prior to the introduction of GSM. Potential new
>entrants, no significant barriers to entry, a real need for substitutes,
>low bargaining power of suppliers and consumers alike.

I always remind myself -- if I want to seek for the joker in the packet of
7Es, go for openness. Many a company, even giants like FORD and IBM, have
ignored openness to their dismay. Openness reminds me almost every day
that the past and the future cannot be equated to each other.
 The past and the future are connected through the order relationship" >"
of becoming rather then the equivalence relationship "="of being. In the
rather lengthy picture which I have painted above on South Africa, I have
said very little explicitly on openness. But I hope you will be able to
discern how much I have worked openness between the lines!

>The WHOLENESS aspect of the rise of GSM should be seen
>from the point of view of evolutionary emergence GSM was
>an emergent technology and WAP is just the next instalment.
>Wholeness is essential to all evolution. Wholeness has the
>associativity pattern X*Y*Z to it. Here X, Y and Z are parts of
>a whole in the sense that X and Z have to commute through Y
>which can thought of as the
>[LO 25559]

Only today I have talked to an internationally renown mathematician from
our faculty. When I explained to him how the axiom of associativity (which
pervades and sustains all mathematical activities) is a major facet of
wholeness, he went into a trance, beginning to contemplate the wholeness
of mathematics with other subjects. When I explained to him how the Z and
X means nothing without the commuting Y, I knew that the arrow has hit its
target. Even though unfit because of my recent medical trauma, I had to
walk a couple of kilometres on our campus with him while he articulated
the consequences of associativity outside the mathematical domain. To my
greatest delight, his associative thoughts even brought him to the library
of the school (university) of Alexandria. His talking while exploring his
mind had been most delightful to listen to.

Chris, I wish I could also answer to your quest trying to come to grip
with the 7Es in an irreversible self-organising market. But I thought it
better to complement your pondering over the 7Es as sufficiency
requirement with my own pondering over LEP dancing on LEC as the necessary
requirement. I did so because you concluded you contribution with

>What is the difference between connecting to any-one,
>anywhere, any time and buying from any-one, anywhere
>any time? The nice thing about entropy production in
>self-organising complex Marketing systems is irreversibility.
>Marketing will never be same again.

To contemplate such "entropy production" within one's own mind is indeed
as source of joy because of the irreversible self-organising learning so
involved. But to speak out on such "entropy production" is something
different. For me to speak out on it involved much /_\(irr)S(sy) within
me. But for any other fellow learner it will become /_\(rev)S(sy) should
that learner follow the way of rote learning. Thus for a few of them who
have been intrigued by /_\(irr)S(sy), I have become a support system. This
worries me deeply because I do not want to become their support system
since it will constrain their own authentic (irreversible self-organising)
learning drastically as it had happened to white farmers during the
apartheid years. It was the very discovery of this constraint during 1970
which made decide what my mission in life would be.

However, for the majority of those who follow the way of route learning,
this contribution will be a great pain in their minds and hearts. I have
written about black and white people. This will easily appear to them to
be very racistic. I have written on the failures of government during
apartheid and government during the last eight years of the New South
Africa. This will easily appear to them to be very reactionary. Thus these
fellow learners will probably denounce me as the worst possible support
system. Begging them not to consider me as a support system, whether good
or bad, will make little, if any sense to them. Why? Because the
difference between /_\(irr)S(sy) and /_\(rev)S(sy) make little, if any
sense to them. Trying to explain that rote learning make use of
/_\(rev)S(sy) and thus invoke external support systems with all the
dangers inherent to them will have no effect since it has been imported as
/_\(rev)S(sy) into their learning although it has been intended to guide
the /_\(irr)S(sy) of their own learning.

What we all need, whether learning rotely or authentically, are
experiences which switch between /_\(irr)S(sy) and /_\(rev)S(sy). From
these experiences the tacit knowledge will emerge within each of us. Some
South African farmers of a certain generation, white and black, have
gained such a consciousness the past twenty years. Perhaps this
consciousness will help them to understand the distinction between
/_\(irr)S(sy) and /_\(rev)S(sy). Chris, you yourself belong to that
generation -- did it make sense to you? Unfortunately, the symbolics of
these two expressions and the terminology going with them, will be
horrible for most farmers. That I know from my own experiences! So what

I think that we have to make much more use of the five elementary
sustainers of creativity. What I did is to use my body with its heart and
lungs for "exemplar-studying". I then tried to use this example as umlomo
to connect to all the relevant issues in the rest of my contribution.
Whether it has helped, remains to be seen.

Chris, I would have loved to use my actual diabetes as an example, but it
is more complicated, involving much molecular biochemistry to understand
what is going on. It is one thing to imagine a life size "heart-lung
machine" and another thing to imagine minute molecules never seen before.
Nevertheless, the pattern is similar -- comparing the pro's and con's of
irreversibly operating organs essential to the body against their
substitution by external support systems of which the results (curiously
also irreversible) have to be imported reversibly. I hope that this has
given you another insight how vastly different a LO is from an OO
(Ordinary Organisation). A LO makes more use of /_\(irr)S(sy) and less of
/_\(rev)S(sy) while for an OO it is the other way around. In other words,
LOs are irreversibly self-organising while OOs are "pseudo
self-organising" systems.

Perhaps you will now also understand why I avoid rote learning so much. It
is "pseudo-self-organising". The mind as an empty container (memory
device) is filled from the outside reversibly (it can just as esily be
forgotten ;-) with information from a IT support system. Pull the plug of
that IT support system and observe the trauma of the ill learner.

Our bodies are magnificent examples of irreversible self-organisation.
Would it not be wonderful when we begin to discover the "essential organs
of our spirituality", to understand the irreversible self-organisation of
them together, to take control over our destinies and to avoid fate while
getting closer to home in the universe.

With care and best wishes


At de Lange <> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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