Exchange Cybernetics: towards a Science of Agility & Adaptation

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Exchange Cybernetics: towards a Science of Agility & Adaptation

Exchange Cybernetics: towards a Science of Agility & Adaptation

SEP 02, 2020 

by Adam Timlett

reviewed by Ben Linders

Key Takeaways

  • Agility can be part of a potential “science of adaptation”
  • Cybernetic theory can be used to model how adaptation happens, and how opportunities are converted and help to simulate agile strategies
  • Sports analytics is closely related to agile problem-solving and this concept of adaptation science
  • As with sports tactics, we could rehearse agile tactics to execute them more reliably
  • The concepts of “stress-testing” and “adaptive opportunity cost” can also help to strategise 

Predicting Successful Decision-Making

I believe that agility can become part of a scientific theory of adaptation, and I have been building simulations to explore some of these ideas. However, in order for agility to become a science, it must be shown to complement and add to the existing science of economic decision-making. In order to add something new to existing microeconomics and decision-making science, a science of agility would offer a different way of looking at familiar problems. It could be the case that the science of successful decision-making is not only predicted by assuming people are rational and having aligned incentives such as bonuses with the desired outcome as classical economics dictates. The more recent idea of behavioural economists that “nudging” people with inherent cognitive biases to make better decisions may also not be the full story. I believe that indeed there is a scientific “gap” in the market for predicting successful adaptation by individuals and organisations. So, it is my contention that successful decision-making is predicted by having the capacity for adaptation and using it wisely. I believe that this capacity for adaptation is nothing more than the ability to move resources around in order to take opportunities as they emerge. To be able to adapt in this way well is to behave with “agility,” as the name implies. There is, however, some conceptual development needed to make good on the promise of this idea. So, let’s consider the ingredients of an agile theory of adaptation.

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Exchange Cybernetics: towards a Science of Agility & Adaptation