Self-organising complex marketing systems LO26701

From: Gavin Ritz (
Date: 05/21/01

Replying to LO26693 --

Hi Chris and org'ies [org'ies?? This is getting out of hand! ..Rick]

Chris Klopper wrote:

> In response to preceding contributions on the topic of Self-organising
> complex marketing systems:
> Gavin raised the question (and the level of the discussion) of wholeness.
> This in turn raised a number of related questions, none of which have been
> sufficiently resolved yet. They are:
> 1) how do we operationalise the term 'marketing' in the idea of
> <self-organising complex marketing systems>? At least three different
> meanings+understandings seems to be evident so far.

Marketing is marketing and is okay for the limits that it has within the
boundaries of marketing. But when we want to discuss complexity and wholes
marketing's boundaries begin to blur. Hence the example I gave in Beer's
VSM. Heart of the Enterprise.

> 2) How whole should wholeness be not to leave holes through which our
> marketing thinking will fall (down)?

If you would like to use Beers concepts (which are not exhaustive),
marketing can be a system 3 and systems 4 concept. Systems 3 is the
marketing, and systems 4 is the creativity associated with marketing.
neither are regarded as wholes.

If you want to use Smut's concept of wholes, marketing is not a whole only
e.g. are people, a tree etc.

> 3) Is 'marketing' as operationalised such a whole or not?

Absolutely not in terms of managerial cybernetics, or Smut's theory of
holism or CAS for that matter. Agents are which are people or/and

> 4) If NO, what are the implications for the praxis (and theory) of
> marketing?

Fine as it is, but I suggest that one delves into concepts that are more
wholistic. No knowledge is ever lost, I have a Master Degree majoring in
marketing, I now know what everyone else does about marketing.

> 5) If YES, (hmmmmm?) least I will rejoice because then what I think
> I am doing will have become a little more meaningful and a little less
> reversible.

Bad news Chris, all businesses are reversible, and the meaning is what you
choose to give it.

If the business is a transformer then the material it transforms is more
or less irreversible if the business is a pump then everything in it is

What about the minds of the people in the business, is that irreversible?

> Two recent contributions were stunning, one from Winfried as part of this
> thread, and one by Arnold Wytenburg (part of another thread on a another
> list - an incidental gem):
> Winfried wrote: As such, markets are always more complex than
> organizations. Organizations encounter markets as open horizons in their
> self-organizing sense making.

No organizations are self organizing humans have to apply mental
concentration over time (work) to create them. Open horizons they are.
Markets are really not that complex. It is relatively easy to profile
markets and their basic underlying needs.

> Markets on the other hand "measure"
> organizations by means of "expectations".

This is only half the picture. Expectations, desires, needs, hopes, fears,
losses etc in the concrete and abstract.

> One goal of an organization is
> to sustain its identity in the field which the market forms.

Yes, markets tag their products and products tag their markets.

> Marketing
> takes place on a tacit level, as long as no formal marketing arises.
> Arnold wrote: my experience suggests that, in abstraction:
> 1) individual business enterprises are much like medical patients, each
> being situationally unique

Yes, but they all have a similar ground plan. Unique but similar don't let
LEM confuse you here.

> 2) taken as a whole, business seems to behave much more like biology

Yes, wholes, cells are wholes, the 12 body systems are wholes, the body is
a whole and an organization is a whole, and that part in the organization
which produces itself is a whole.

> 3) executives tend to approach business as though it is more like
> chemistry

I wish they did.

> 4) academics and consultants tend to think that business is more like
> physics.
> The marketing that I think can usefully be thought of as a self-organising
> complex system includes all the visible and/or measurable manifestation(s)
> which become evident as a result of a way of looking at the whole system
> (SY) in the context of and interacting with its surroundings (SU).

To use this concept is a grave error of judgment one needs to assess what
of SY is a whole, because some SY's are not wholes. Like a rock, like
marketing dept., like my head, like the finance department, like
maintenance dept, like a lake, like a car.

> The
> only way I can describe *it* at present is to think of *it* as a
> holographic image which appears in a multi-dimensional organisational
> space.

Even the holographic concept is confusing because a hologram of an apple
is not a whole and neither is the apple. I think some how the real whole
is holographic but I do not know how or why or were to observe it.

> It is not a holographic puppet and there is no single puppetmaster.
> My experience has brought me to the belief that among other things *it*
> has the potential for PERSISTENCY or (to use Bergson's term) DURATION. If
> we misuse (and here I am paraphrasing Bergson) this aspect of marketing to
> reduce time to a sequence of instantaneous states linked by a
> deterministic law, *it* disappears out of sight (that does not imply *it*
> ceases to exist). In doing so we detatch selected marketing events from
> *this fragile whole* and become trapped on poor local optima (after which
> *it* may well cease to exist).

I have no idea what this means.

> Thinking in ecological mode for a second it (this aspect of marketing)
> reminds me of the rule: the bigger the brain the longer the maturation
> period. Guinness is a mature adult with a large brain while the infant
> mortality of new marketing concepts, on the other hand, is high. A brand
> is not a thing, the thing we get used to(if it is visible - like NIKE for
> instance) is merely part of all its visible maifestations. The aspect of
> marketing I have in mind is a whole which I still find difficult to
> articulate. This I do know: it is complex because I have looked at it
> through the lenses provided by medicine, biology, chemistry and physics
> (and a few more) and still stand in awe of its undisclosed mysteries. It
> is self-organising because I have yet to meet the all-controlling
> puppetmaster.

It is the attractor-repulsor singularity. It controls you, me, and the
entire universe. I do not know how it works or why it is so but everything
is infused by it. Tensegrity is the result, we can observe needs-fears,
hopes-losses, desires-fears, demands-supply, push-pull,
attraction-repulsion, stimulus-response, towards-away from, pain-pleasure,
life-death, heaven-hell are all signatures of this singularity. And the
transformations it creates, in VSM it is called the transfer function. The
transfer function is the transformer, digestor, convertor, your heart,
lungs, stomach, brain these are transformers or pumps.

In spiral galaxies we see the spirals of attraction and repulsion, where
ever you look there is the attractor-repulsor singularity. Some sea shells
and jelly fish are fantastic forms that show this. Called the algedonic
signal by some, it is the sole reason we have sport, for the wins-losses
and the pleasure and pain that wins and losses provide. It is how our
nervous system works. It is how the nervous system of the universe works.

Chris I have mapped this for ten years, profiled more than a thousand
people (with feedback), argued with many and todate not one person (or
product) that I know of, alive has ever fallen outside the algedonic
signal or the attractor-respulsor singularity.

> It has DURATION outside of the organisation which has
> custody because it can out-live its own origins, it can mutate, replicate,
> bear off-spring and it can be destroyed/wasted by owners and regulators.
> This dimension of marketing will continue to take place on a tacit level,
> as long as no formal description thereof arises, or is it <emerges>?.

It lives in the mind of man and can very much be described, painted,
presented. The entire reason for industrial effort is to meet the needs
(mental and material) of mankind. In all its shapes and forms. If you want
to know what it is, down load the paper above my name on my web-site and I
have mapped all the human needs in the abstract and concrete with the
associated processess whereby these needs are met.

All industrial effort is directed in this manner, and all products are
made to meet those needs or the means by which these needs can be supplied
to mankind.

Here is the good news man's needs (abstract and concrete) can never be
met. They are forever (how ever long you want to make it). This is the law
of evolution. By the time our star has imploded we will be living on the
other side of the universe (no promises on how we will look).



Gavin Ritz <>

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