Self-organising complex marketing systems LO26661

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 05/09/01

Replying to LO26620 --

Dear Organlearners,

Robert McDonald <> writes:

>I always try to explain to my students that the reason
>for a business degree is to develop skills in ALL of the
>major disciplines necessary to successfully manage a

Thank you bob for your reply to Gavin which I enjoyed very much. I think
that what distinguishes Gavin is that he would have been a model student
in your class.

I stress to my students that interdiciplinary teamwork in any complex
project usually fails because people between different disciplines fail to
communicate effectively. Thus they each have to expose themselves to as
many, if not all, disciplines, so that can learn to connect self thoughts
various disciplines. When they do that, they emerge into what I call
"transdisciplinary thinking". This "transdisciplinary thinking" is for me
crucial to manage successfully manage any project.

>We also need to understand the environment that the
>organization functions in because it affects the organization
>and is affected in return. To paraphrase the zen master
>Thich Nhat Hanh, the organization and its environment

I agree. As for myself, I consider the organisation as a system SY of
which its most important feature is its organisation. The systemic
quantity entropy S is a measure of this organisation. I designate the
systems entropy by adding the tag (sy) to S, namely S(sy).

The environment of the organisation is an intricate network of interacting
systems, each having and internal organisation and thus entropy to measure
it. But even more important, the environment of interacting systems itself
is a system with an immensely complex organisation. I call this
environment, whenever I think of it as a system, as the "surroundings"
(note the plural) SU with entropy S(su).

Now for complexity itself. The "system" SY and the "surroundings" SU which
interact is for me the most complex system which I can think of. I call it
the universe UN. It also has organisation as its prime feature. Another
name for this organisation of the UN is "complexity". To think of S(un)
baffles my mind. This is, I think, what you express with:

>Just as ocean waves cannot be separated from the
>ocean water, so too no organization can exist as a
>single discipline, whether it be marketing, management,
>finance, accounting, or info systems

What we need to understand the interaction of the SY with the SU forming
the UN are definite patterns which do not shy away from the SY or SU or
even the UN. I think this is what philosophers had been aware of since the
days of Job (who lived even long before Plato). I think that these
definite patterns are refered to by the term "archetypes" of Systems

One definite pattern which had been most valuable to me self is
. S(sy) and S(su) as a whole increase endlessly
This is known as the Law of Entropy Production (LEP). It can be formulated
simpler in terms of mathematics as
. /_\S(sy) + /_\S(su) > 0
or even seemingly simpler
. /_\S(un) > 0
where the /_\ means "change of" and the > means "is more than".

The "seemingly simpler" actually means that it is not so simple. LEP has
also another side to it, namely that
. /_\/_\S(un) < 0
. /_\Sun) > 0
tells that the entropy of the universe always increase, the
. /_\/_\S(un) < 0
tells that this increase is always becoming less

Perhaps the most profound lesson to learn from the expressions
. /_\Sun) > 0
. /_\/_\S(un) < 0
is that they uses the sign ">" rather than the sign "=". Thus these
expressions tell that should we want to use them, we will have to stop
thinking merely in terms of equalities.

>I'm not sure that any system can stand alone,
>including the human body, or its cells. Of course
>we isolate these "systems" to develop personal
>mastery in them.

Yes, a system can be made to stand alone completely isolated. But what
then happens to that system is of vast importance understanding systems in
general. Firstly, because the system SY is now isolated so that it cannot
interact with the surroundings SU, its structures and process will change
vastly whenever they depended on the interaction with SU.

For example, should I isolate myself with a plastic suit (like that of a
diver) which covers the whole of my body (even feet hands and face) I will
die in a couple of minutes. Then my body will begin to decompose up to a
certain stage until no more changes take place. We say that the system has
reached equilibrium. In terms of entropy changes, the pattern has a most
definite shape as follows.

The isolation of the system SY means
. /_\S(sy) + /_\S(su) > 0
. /_\S(sy) > 0
This increase in the entropy S(sy) becomes less and less because the
second order expression (as a result of the very isolation)
. /_\/_\S(sy) < 0
steps in until finally there are no changes any more, i.e.
. /_\S(sy) = 0
This means that only at equilibrium we may fool around with equalities as
long as we wish. Obviously, equilibrium is the death state.

>Of course we isolate these "systems" to develop personal mastery
>in them. An orthopaedist can't divert her attention from the study of
>bone and muscle to become an expert in the circulatory system.
>However, that surgeon better know how to control bleeding and
>infection for the overall good of the patient. That is the same
>approach that we need to take in business schools, and I believe
>that it is what is generally intended.

I think in one aspect differently. I will not write "to develop personal
mastery in them", but "to develop disciplinary thinking in each".
Obviously, as you have indicated by your example, such thinking is useless
if not sustained by what I articulate as "transdisciplinary thinking".

>Please excuse the spelling errors, as I have no spell check
>function in this email program, and am a notoriously bad speller.
>I've enjoyed the postings that I have read in the week or so that
>I've been on the list,

I cannot agree more because it is the same with me. And some fellow
learners may think that this ought to worry me because am I not
expressing an equality here, namely you (SU) and I (SY) reaching
the point
. /_\S(sy) + S(su) = 0
No, for a while we danced the same pattern of LEP. But soon we may
dance it much differently because LEP has many dances.

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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