Man, Market, Movement: Why the Universe Hates Stagnation

The universe abhors too much sameness. When you sense that parts of you or your efforts are stagnant, or, not synthesizing new experiences into your character or your work, do you notice those subtle feelings of self-loathing? It happens the same way in any network: a culture, a household, a team, a country. Individuals turn against their own identity structures. Cancers form. Relationships become a battle of projections. Societies polarize. Either way the eventual result is change. 

Proximity creates pressure. So when the pathways of a network are limited, pressure builds up and diversity, essential for a complex system's survival, disappears. Movement is limited. Tension increases. When these things happen, it seems as if there are limited channels through which energy and information can flow, and limited combinations of ideas that can be drawn upon to solve problems.

Pent-up order becomes destructive when the dominant ideas are so rooted into a culture that attention is drawn into their vortices as flotsam to a typhoon. Either-or thinking occurs. Alliances are formed and lines are drawn in the sand. If not this, than Other. If not certain, then uncertainty... danger. 

Today a design-thinking friend reminded me of architecting for change. In any system, entropic processes dictate that pockets of stagnation must find release. The nature of stagnation is too much order, failure to adapt, an endless replication of "sameness" that, instead of synthesizing and reproducing consciousness in new ways, perpetuates the same unsolvable paradox of existence without new understanding. 

But there is a bigger paradox. When so much pressure finally builds within a system that whole structures collapse, still something emerges to create with--a rawer, purer material, the living soil made fertile by ash.

The question is, if nature sees destruction as an effective means of creation on all scales, at what scale will we human beings consciously allow adaptive and destructive processes to evolve us? How can we architect these natural processes into our projects and lives?

This Thursday, we talk with Diego Espinosa, founder of Sistema Research and finance professor at the University of San Diego, about what happens when our quest for certainty creates too much order--in our markets and in our social networks--and what it could mean for the future.

The HumanCurrent podcast is hosted by Angie Cross & Stacy Hale. Subscribe in iTunes or listen at