Complexity and Knowledge Management Navigators…
Sometimes you never know what is on your own doorstep! If you follow this blog you’ll know that I am involved in a fascinating long-term engagement in Indiana. Little did I know, but cognitive scientists at the University of Indiana, working with colleagues at the University Medical Centre Utrecht, have discovered ‘The Rich Club’ – described by the researchers as, “G8 summit of our brain.”…and it seems that there is something here for management science.
This ‘club’ is a cluster of domains within the brain that could be described as super hubs. Each domain or hub is hyper connected to its local environment. The hubs that constitute the ‘Rich Club’ then share information and collaborate to manage the whole. The theory is that the hyper-connectivity at a local level speeds up efficiency and prevents overload; the information processing hub that forms part of the Rich Club can then dampen signals of low significance and amplify high significance signals, sharing and collaborating with the other hubs to then provide decisions on a course of action. The hubs, according to the research, are not hyper-specialised (in other words they are not focused on a single cognitive function, such as interpreting visual signals), but instead are ‘cross-disciplinary’. The hyper-connected local network conserves energy, not having to be concerned about transporting information over a network of highways (think of having to manage that overload, to say nothing of the potential traffic-jams), instead acting locally and allowing the super-hub to transport large amounts of relevant information along clutter-free super highways that connect the Rich Club.
“It’s a group of highly influential regions that keep each other informed and likely collaborate on issues that concern whole brain functioning…All these regions are getting all kinds of highly processed information, from virtually all parts of the brain.” (Indiana University Press Release)
The insight provided by these researchers could have transferable impact for Knowledge Management practice and resilient seeking organisations. The idea of hyper-connected local cross-disciplinary communities within an organisation, which are networked through super-hubs that act to dampen and amplify strong/weak signals (data, information and knowledge detection and analysis – methods such as fragmented narrative capture), has to be of interest to practitioners/researchers in the field of management science. These empowered super-hubs, again cross-disciplinary, then act to manage the whole, something that many management teams struggle to do; often because of the level of noise caused by the over amplification of irrelevant signals.
This research on the Rich Club, coupled with our current thinking on ‘The Proposition of the Minimum’ and the ’12 Resiliency Objectives’, could be pointing towards a new approach to organisational development in the resiliency age….the journey continues.
The bottom line is that there would seem to be the potential for transference of research here and a conversation with these researchers at Indiana University would make my next visit to Indianapolis even more interesting… that knocking on your door, yes that would be me 🙂
Check out our next KM Course (Resilient Knowledge Management Practice) in Slough, August 12th – 16th 2013 (Stage 3, Advanced)
Check out ‘Operation Punctuated Equilibrium’ (Resilient Knowledge Management Practice) in Edinburgh, October 24th – 25th
www.punctuatedlearning.com (a real time simulation environment)