Adaptation, Transformation and Innovation

Whiles system steering is mainly concerned with course correction of the system towards set-course within defined system structure (elements, goals, properties, governance, relationship, sub-system) in order to achieve stated goals, maximize efficiency, effectiveness, capability and potentiality.

While adaptation refers to adjustments in systems in response to actual or expected stimuli and their effects or impacts with respect to dynamic properties of a viable and  sustainable system (potential , connectedness and resilience) . It refers to changes in processes, practices, and structures as a response to environmental change.

Systemic adaptation is about ‘doing the right things considering system state and environmental conditions:

  • Steering known system towards set-course
  • Transformation – totally new paradigm: involving a terminus or crumbling paradigm. Totally new system definition and governance model
  • Innovation – step change in product or service offering within established system definition and governance model

The ineffective adaptation can be catastrophic considering following organization/systems disappeared or are in permanent decline:

  • Yahoo
  • Nokia
  • Texas Instruments
  • Kodak
  • Polaroid
  • Compaq
  • NEC
  • Amiga
  • Palm , Sony Erikson ect….
  • Catastrophe amongst major Banks surviving due to extensive public intervention
  • Permanent decline of the of the Greek and Italian economic system within the EU

Each of the above can be attributed to ether failing to understand that their the system set-course was defined within a crumbling paradigm (Kodak) or its innovation poor innovation approach (Nokia insistence with Windows mobile killed the company) or failing to

Failing to do the right things impacts system viability whereby there is a decline in   system sustainability related to its potential and resilience. Adaptation failure are caused by poor governance, inability to steer the system right direction considering it’s on system course set and environmental conditions.

 Transformation is the process of starting or ending a paradigm and involves a terminus.

Start implies a new paradigm that may result in the end of existing paradigm or triggering a crumbling paradigm. Typical example digital versus film (which marked the end Kodak ), or the shipping container, email. Within a system/company, it means the complete redefinition of its core value proposition – change on system broad model, a pattern, a framework, way of thinking for understanding reality, behavior, and the rules within the system boundaries.

Innovation is the process of evolutionary step-changes in a product or service offering within defined system paradigm.  Think about incremental releases (versions) of software – each designed to build from the previous, but adding various improvements in design and ability or new auto car release within existing series.  Innovation operates within existing system within know system elements and their functional relationship and environmental conditions and existing governance model.

Adaptation activities span five general components: observation; assessment of climate impacts and vulnerability; planning; implementation; and monitoring and evaluation of adaptation actions.


At the outset of any adaptation initiative, observation and monitoring of key via system cockpit and essential variables is important to find and attribute system change impacts, and to support system analysis towards improved understanding, modelling and prediction of the system change impacts. The system cockpit in order to be effective should provide:

  • Key variables , their historical progression, association of key events
  • Properties/attributes of key variables and association with other variable and system elements in order to understand dynamic progression
  • Variables association to goals and target
  • Association of past event to variables
  • Alerts


Adaptation assessment refers to the practice of identifying options to adapt system to change, and evaluating them in terms of criteria such as benefits, costs, effectiveness, efficiency and feasibility


The definition of adaptation initiative the urgency as well as the governance model to  ensure effective implementation and monitoring.


Implementation entails the realization of adaptation initiatives. Entails creating a realization specification that clearly defines the what and the how to effectively realize the adaptation initiative:

  • The type: steering, innovation or transformation
  • The actual initiative
  • Impacting elements of the system/sub system (Enterprise IT architecture)
  • Cost and benefit
  • Risk analysis
  • Time- line
  • Supporting governance model
  • Impacting variables
  • Change management , training
  • Monitoring criteria to determine efficacy of the initiative

Monitoring and evaluation

Given the complexity of the system initiative, it is essential that adaptation be designed as a continuous and flexible process, including feedback through monitoring and evaluation: fundamental for continuous learning and understanding efficacy and possible emergence  of unintended consequences. The implementation of adaptation actions needs to be regularly monitored, evaluated and revised, both in terms of the validity of the underlying scientific assumptions and the appropriateness of initiative intervention initiatives  including their effectiveness, efficiency and overall utility. A monitoring and evaluation framework may be developed to ensure clearly formulated goals, objectives and output measures as well as the availability of good quality data obtained via a system cockpit.