What happens then? Are we all brand new when we receive new stimuli?

No. We can travel to distant destination, and still eat the same food we eat at home. We can build a diverse team of innovators, and then still have a risk-adverse corporate Manager take the same decisions he has always taken.

Our biggest obstacle is the inertia of our own ways of thinking and behaving.

What’s important is adaption. The system responds to the new stimuli or to the new environment. The system self-organises.

Adaption can mean new goals are formed, new processes or habits are being formed aligned around the new insight, the new situation.

We reconnect the new learning to our knowledge or resource in new and unique ways.

In systems thinking, the agents change their routines, they change their habits.

Species adapt when their environment changes.

Stock markets react to price changes, to a change in the underlying economy, in credit availability, and so on.

Companies respond to new routines of customers, new habits, or they develop new routines of how the organisation creates value for them. A company may offer the product in a new form, as a service for example.

When to companies merge, then they align around the same purpose, they are in the same type of business, they focus on the same type of customer, they share the same values.

Similarly, the human brain constantly adjusts its neural connections based on the experiences. Dr. Pascual-Leone, describes that, when learning a musical instrument, existing pathways in the brain get unmasked and activated. The more a person practices, the more stable and structural the changes will become.

Synergy - Align around common goals

Now to make innovation successful, we don’t just need adaptation. We need an adaptation that matches the reality around us, that actually makes things work.

Think of ideation sessions, where people throw in countless ideas for new products. They all align around the one idea. Great. The problem, the idea sounds amazing, but it does not actually tackle a real user need. Nor has the company the right capabilities to bring to market.

What we need is new patterns that are aligned. In systems thinking, this is called synergy. A new structure is formed in systems.

New properties are created that are the synergies between the part. This is what is called Emergence.

In the case of disruption or crisis this happens when the company needs to align with the new new rules of the environment.

In the case of diverse teams they get aligned in the same direction when they adapt to the same goals, to the same belief systems. The stronger these correlate, the stronger the robustness of pattern.

Often, positive feedback loops are required to form these structures. They ensure an alignment of the system elements. In your organization, these feedback systems can be information flows, such as ensuring that all team members have access to the same information, market intelligence or customer feedback and data that you have access to.