We are all systems: the power of network design

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About this brief

This is part of a series exploring the power and possibilities of network design.


“The future belongs to those who can see it.” David Bowie

To understand the core promises of network design, we must first understand emergence. Any process, any institution, any system, has one challenge: evolution. To learn, to survive, to adapt. In nature, evolution is slow but deliberate, killing things not suited for survival. Ray Dailio reminds us that it’s not cruel, but rather a kindness.

If evolution is the global rule, how do we create for a future marked by certain uncertainty? By looking to adaptive systems, living and built, that have been tested by time and survived not through scale or dominance, but adaptivity.  Our own body, natural ecosystems, innovative institutions and systems – adaptivity rules at every scale.

As we examine these systems, a pattern emerges. Adaptive systems succeed not because of any one piece or component, but rather the ability to orchestrate the parts as a whole. They are both a whole and an assemblage of links and nodes. They are networks.

Their primary value is orchestration, balancing and connecting elements, enabling growth and recovery, recombining and innovating.  Responding with adaptivity and waiting to see what happens next.  This is emergence – orchestrating the network and letting it do its best.

Where’s the science?

The study of complex and adaptive systems has been around for nearly 100 years, rethinking everything from natural ecosystems to global economies. The deeply informed, cross-discipline systems view of the world, practiced by experts like our friends at the Santa Fe Institute, continually yield important new patterns, power laws, and cross-discipline linkages.

Why Dialog Chose NX

We build everything to be adaptive. Whether it’s brands, business models, or a movement to transform behavioral health, network design is an ideal complement to everything we do, so we’re heavily invested in:

  • Solving complex challenges with a network lens that illuminates previously obscured connections and constraints.
  • Designing network-focused tools that map and measure narratives across ecosystems and platforms
  • Co-creating network-focused business models that outpace traditional revenue and valuation
  • Embracing nodeness in the pursuit of communication and collaboration tools that inspire leadership innovation and team transformation

That’s why it’s such a fundamentally amazing framework, extending the familiar rules and relationships into places and possibilities. No more external vs. internal, left brain or right. We are simply adaptive systems, mastering contradiction and making magic from the chaos.

Ultimately, we realized we’ve been network designers for a long time, before the label ever found our lips. Our best practices were all driven by a need to orchestrate and integrate, and that commitment to adaptivity has never wavered.  Across divisions and disciplines, network design continues to power our best ideas and engagements.

It’s the future, and we can see it. We can’t wait for you to learn more.