New Discussion on May 11

Learning from Nature’s most common development process: beginning with growth, ending with refinement.


The most common end to growth in nature, though often uncertain, is also the kind of transformation for our economy everyone seems to be looking for. Organization in nature generally begins as a system of multiplying frameworks of design that capture growing resources, like growth in the womb or the start-up growth establishing a new businesses, even the emergence of storms and lightning strikes. Then as if by magic that explosive stating emergence can then turn into a convergence, that produces a single unifying design as if by the collaboration of all the parts.

You see the same basic pattern in any new form of organization that then matures, like the formation of a social group, an emerging culture, or an office project, not to mention the growth of organisms and ecologies that also begin with exponential expansion before converging on a common unified design. You even see it in such small scale organizational projects as “making dinner” or writing a note, going from exploratory to converging design. The hallmark is first developing by bigger and bigger steps as options for new extensions are explored, then switching to converging on a unified design, to become optimized as a whole and ending in what we see as nature’s perfection. Of course that’s also what we do with any research project too, goinig from exploration to refinement.

Perhaps in addition to studying this common pattern of natural design, it would also be worth studying why people don't seem to think of development this way. That we are indeed very practiced in acting this way, developing our end products toward perfection, makes how we designed the economy something of a great riddle.

A new paper on the general subject, “systems thinking for systems making,” was recently published online: