Panarchy is a conceptual framework to account for the dual, and seemingly contradictory, characteristics of all complex systems – stability and change. It is the study of how economic growth and human development depend on ecosystems and institutions, and how they interact.

Panarchy as conceptual framework play a fundamental role within Systemic Transformation. Key purpose systemic adaptation embrace the three key properties  which are potential, Connectedness and resilience .

All systems experience Adaptive Cycles via stages of the adaptive cycle. These stages are

birth, growth and maturation, death and/or renewal. Within the cycle the system is characterized by the following three properties that determine the dynamic characteristics of each cycle:

  • Potential sets the limits to what is possible – the number and kinds of future options available
  • Connectedness determines the degree to which a system can control its own destiny through internal controls, as distinct from being influenced by external variables. (e.g. temperature regulation in warm blooded animals, which involves five different physiological mechanisms, is an example of high connectedness).
  • Resilience determines how vulnerable a system is to unexpected disturbances and surprises that can exceed or break that control. (Resilience tipping point).

Effective Systemic governance within the adaptive cycle stages attempts to achieve the optimum potential (not the maximum),the degree of connectedness (control) and effective resilience management (doing the right ‘what to what’) considering system trajectory and stability landscape.

The stages within adaptive cycles clearly apply to economic systems, organizations and species.Some examples:

Kodak became extinct due to inability to adapt to technological changes

  • Neanderthal extinction
  • Poor economic growth and high employment of a EU member country such as Italy due to low potential poor connectedness weak resilience

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IT Transformation consultant specifically within SAP space with strong interest in System Thinking and Cybernetics Management.

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