VUCA, short for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, and a catchall for “Hey, it’s crazy out there!” It’s also misleading: VUCA conflates four distinct types of challenges that demand four distinct types of responses. That makes it difficult to know how to approach a challenging situation and easy to use VUCA as a crutch, a way to throw off the hard work of strategy and planning—after all, you can’t prepare for a VUCA world, right?
Actually, you can. Here is a guide to identifying, getting ready for, and responding to events in each of the four VUCA categories.
Understanding norms is a key challenge in sociology. Nevertheless, there is a lack of dynamical models explaining how one of several possible behaviors is established as a norm and under what conditions. Analysing an agent-based model, we identify interesting parameter dependencies that imply when two behaviors will coexist or when a shared norm will emerge in a heterogeneous society, where different populations have incompatible preferences. Our model highlights the importance of randomness, spatial interactions, non-linear dynamics, and self-organization. It can also explain the emergence of unpopular norms that do not maximize the collective benefit. Furthermore, we compare behavior-based with preference-based punishment and find interesting results concerning hypocritical punishment. Strikingly, pressuring others to perform the same public behavior as oneself is more effective in promoting norms than pressuring others to meet one’s own private preference. Finally, we show that adaptive group pressure exerted by randomly occuring, local majorities may create norms under conditions where different behaviors would normally coexist.
In recent years the research community has accumulated overwhelming evidence for the emergence of complex and heterogeneous connectivity patterns in a wide range of biological and socio-technical systems. The complex properties of real world networks have a profound impact on the behavior of equilibrium and non-equilibrium phenomena occurring in various systems, and the study of epidemic spreading is central to our understanding of the unfolding of dynamical processes in complex networks. The theoretical analysis of epidemic spreading in heterogeneous networks requires the development of novel analytical frameworks, and it has produced results of conceptual and practical relevance. Here we present a coherent and comprehensive review of the vast research activity concerning epidemic processes, detailing the successful theoretical approaches as well as making their limits and assumptions clear. Physicists, epidemiologists, computer and social scientists share a common interest in studying epidemic spreading and rely on very similar models for the description of the diffusion of pathogens, knowledge, and innovation. For this reason, while we focus on the main results and the paradigmatic models in infectious disease modeling, we also present the major results concerning generalized social contagion processes. Finally we outline the research activity at the forefront in the study of epidemic spreading in co-evolving and time-varying networks.
Epidemic processes in complex networks Romualdo Pastor-Satorras, Claudio Castellano, Piet Van Mieghem, Alessandro Vespignani
Network methods have had profound influence in many domains and disciplines in the past decade. Community structure is a very important property of complex networks, but the accurate definition of a community remains an open problem. Here we defined community based on three properties, and then propose a simple and novel framework to detect communities based on network topology. We analyzed 16 different types of networks, and compared our partitions with Infomap, LPA, Fastgreedy and Walktrap, which are popular algorithms for community detection. Most of the partitions generated using our approach compare favorably to those generated by these other algorithms. Furthermore, we define overlapping nodes that combine community structure with shortest paths. We also analyzed the E. Coli. transcriptional regulatory network in detail, and identified modules with strong functional coherence.
A number of social-ecological systems exhibit complex behavior associated with nonlinearities, bifurcations, and interaction with stochastic drivers. These systems are often prone to abrupt and unexpected instabilities and state shifts that emerge as a discontinuous response to gradual changes in environmental drivers. Predicting such behaviors is crucial to the prevention of or preparation for unwanted regime shifts. Recent research in ecology has investigated early warning signs that anticipate the divergence of univariate ecosystem dynamics from a stable attractor. To date, leading indicators of instability in systems with multiple interacting components have remained poorly investigated. This is a major limitation in the understanding of the dynamics of complex social-ecological networks. Here, we develop a theoretical framework to demonstrate that rising variance—measured, for example, by the maximum element of the covariance matrix of the network—is an effective leading indicator of network instability. We show that its reliability and robustness depend more on the sign of the interactions within the network than the network structure or noise intensity. Mutualistic, scale free and small world networks are less stable than their antagonistic or random counterparts but their instability is more reliably predicted by this leading indicator. These results provide new advances in multidimensional early warning analysis and offer a framework to evaluate the resilience of social-ecological networks.
Early Warning Signs in Social-Ecological Networks.
PLoS ONE 9(7): e101851. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0101851 (2014)
It is not uncommon to think that knowing is something that goes on in the brain. Perhaps astonishingly, the evidence that it is really so is not quite clear. Some scientists have recently expressed...
june holley's insight:
"Changing the way we communicate is the way we change organizations. Changing the conversation is not a major program or change process. It is about understanding and influencing participation. It is sometimes about new connections, new conversations, and new people taking actively part. It is often about asking different kind of questions and pointing to different kinds of issues."
If there’s one thing that we can all agree on it’s that the world of work is changing…quickly. The way we have been working over the past few years is NOT how are we are going to be working in the coming years. Perhaps one of the most important underlying factors driving this change is the coming shift around who drives how work gets done. Traditionally executives would set the rules and pass those down to managers who in turn would pass those down to employees. But as Dan Pink aptly put it, “talented people need organizations less than organizations need talented people.” In other words employees are now starting to drive the decisions and conversations around how work gets done, when it gets done, who it gets done with, what technologies are being used to get it done, etc. The next few years are going to bring about dramatic changes. But why now? What are the key trends that are driving this new future of work? There are five of them - take a look.
Homophily—the tendency for individuals to associate with similar others—is one of the most persistent findings in social network analysis. Its importance is established along the lines of a multitude of sociologically relevant dimensions, e.g. sex, ethnicity and social class. Existing research, however, mostly focuses on one dimension at a time. But people are inherently multidimensional, have many attributes and are members of multiple groups. In this article, we explore such multidimensionality further in the context of network dynamics. Are friendship ties increasingly likely to emerge and persist when individuals have an increasing number of attributes in common? We analyze eleven friendship networks of adolescents, draw on stochastic actor-oriented network models and focus on the interaction of established homophily effects. Our results indicate that main effects for homophily on various dimensions are positive. At the same time, the interaction of these homophily effects is negative. There seems to be a diminishing effect for having more than one attribute in common. We conclude that studies of homophily and friendship formation need to address such multidimensionality further.
Multidimensional homophily in friendship networks * PER BLOCK and THOMAS GRUND
We have known for at least 100 years that a brain is organized as a network of connections between nerve cells. But in the last 10 years there has been a rapid growth in our capacity to quantify the complex topological pattern of brain connectivity, using mathematical tools drawn from graph theory. Here we bring together articles and reviews from some of the world’s leading experts in contemporary brain network analysis by graph theory. The contributions are focused on three big questions that seem important at this stage in the scientific evolution of the field: How does the topology of a brain network relate to its physical embedding in anatomical space and its biological costs? How does brain network topology constrain brain dynamics and function? And what seem likely to be important future methodological developments in the application of graph theory to analysis of brain networks? Clearer understanding of the principles of brain network organization is fundamental to understanding many aspects of cognitive function, brain development and clinical brain disorders. We hope this issue provides a forward-looking window on this fast moving field and captures some of the excitement of recent progress in applying the concepts of graph theory to measuring and modeling the complexity of brain networks.
Complex network theory and the brain Issue compiled and edited by David Papo, Javier M. Buldú, Stefano Boccaletti and Edward T. Bullmore
The idea that nothing exists in isolation−but only as part of a system−has long been embedded in folklore, religious scriptures, and common sense.
june holley's insight:
"The idea that nothing exists in isolation−but only as part of a system−has long been embedded in folklore, religious scriptures, and common sense. Yet, systems dynamics as a science has yet to transform the way we conduct the public business. This article first briefly explores the question of why advances in systems theory have failed to transform public policy. The second part describes the ways in which our understanding of systems is growing−not so much from theorizing, but from practical applications in agriculture, building design, and medical science. The third part focuses on whether and how that knowledge and systems science can be deployed to improve urban governance in the face of rapid climate destabilization so that sustainability becomes the norm, not the occasional success story."
Inspired by biological design and self-organizing systems, artist Heather Barnett co-creates with physarum polycephalum, a eukaryotic microorganism that lives in cool, moist areas. What can people learn from the semi-intelligent slime mold? Watch this talk to find out.
Research on human social interactions has traditionally relied on self-reports. Despite their widespread use, self-reported accounts of behaviour are prone to biases and necessarily reduce the range of behaviours, and the number of subjects, that may be studied simultaneously. The development of ever smaller sensors makes it possible to study group-level human behaviour in naturalistic settings outside research laboratories. We used such sensors, sociometers, to examine gender, talkativeness and interaction style in two different contexts. Here, we find that in the collaborative context, women were much more likely to be physically proximate to other women and were also significantly more talkative than men, especially in small groups. In contrast, there were no gender-based differences in the non-collaborative setting. Our results highlight the importance of objective measurement in the study of human behaviour, here enabling us to discern context specific, gender-based differences in interaction style.
The importance of complexity is well-captured by Hawking's comment: "Complexity is the science of the 21st century". From the movement of flocks of birds to the Internet, environmental sustainability, and market regulation, the study and understanding of complex non-linear systems has become highly influential over the last 30 years.
In this Very Short Introduction, one of the leading figures in the field, John Holland, introduces the key elements and conceptual framework of complexity. From complex physical systems such as fluid flow and the difficulties of predicting weather, to complex adaptive systems such as the highly diverse and interdependent ecosystems of rainforests, he combines simple, well-known examples -- Adam Smith's pin factory, Darwin's comet orchid, and Simon's 'watchmaker' -- with an account of the approaches, involving agents and urn models, taken by complexity theory.
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