How Innovations Change Our Lives

Moving on to the fourth leaf of our five leaf innovation type clover, let's talk about structure. We want to make better thing in better ways…With better things, we do not mean things of yesterday, made faster...or cheaper? And with better ways we do not mean industrial work alone…it needs lab work. In lab work we strive for a breakthrough, proposing non-obvoious approaches or solutions. It's difficult to do factory and lab work simultaneously.

A story is driven by a plot. It has characters. The analogue in innovation is workflow (functions, operations) and agents (objects, actors, actions)…

It helps to understand the value of an innovation by recognizing whether it's workflow or agent driven.  Innovations often apply "What If" thinking. In agent-oriented systems those are realized as design, engineering, simulation tool sets or systems…testing change, like, refinement, extension, configuration, integration, emergence (change from lower to higher levels)…Workflow dominated systems manage (control)…their "What If" thinking is internal.

Structure Types

LinearFlow - systems that represent how (single) objects are transformed as they "move" though a system thats processes are sequential. Its steps are often divided into (symbolic) preprocessor-processor-postprocessor modules. Pre processors prepare the input for better processing and post processors help to interprate results.

They usually represent linear information flows, control flows, money flows...or flows of physical…objects. Not surprisingly they are the choices for representing the characteristic flow processes (metallurgical, chemical, energy production…). The challenges lie in the processes (they may be complicated).

Systems representing linear flows often need (statistical) data analysis, modeling, parameter identification, optimization…consequently powerful computing. The flow linearity suggests: one system one integrated workflow (process-through integration of evaluation and data management is indispensable). They often organize scheduled tasks that are processed automatically plus interaction where required.

MultiFlow - systems that represent how multiple objects are transformed as they move through multiple processes sequential and in parallel.

Prototypes are flexible discrete manufacturing systems…Their challenges lie in the processes (they may be complicated, even programmable), and the optimization of process utilization, work in process and time in process…Their flexibility may come from the process flexibility or the routing flexibility.

In the local modules the MultiFlow supporting systems may not be so different from LinearFlow supporting systems, but they need a services and communication layer that organize them. They're usually integrated, but not too tightly, and interactivity is more important.

AntiFlow - systems composed of interacting intelligent objects (agents). They interact among each others and with an environment. Intelligence may include logic, rule based, functional, procedural...methodic and algorithmic capabilities. They're often represented as a set of techniques, from mathematics, engineering, sciences…

They usually seek explanatory insight into a collective behavior of agents. typically in natural systems. More general the theory of complex systems is about how relationships between parts give rise to the collective behavior of a system and how the system interact with an environment.

Their homes are networks, where flows are undirected and feedback loops matter.

Motivation to study complex system comes from physics…but it is seen as an indispensable approach to social and economic sciences, where (irrational) human behavior introduces the complexity. Econophysics, a prototypical fields, applies the theory of complex physics systems to economics.

This is the place to warn of the tightly coupled complex systems trap: complex systems can have unintended consequences, but tightly coupling means in most of the cases that there is not enough time to react to them.

Complex technical systems, say, chemical reactors, need to cope with the tightly coupled complexity, but why should a bank?

Structure and Matter are intimately related. In Linear and MultiFlow systems the objects change. They require an orientation towards quantifiable objectives, whilst AntiFlow systems strive for insight (AntiFlow objects remain the same). AntiFlow systems look into systemic behavior, whilst Linear and MultiFlow systems systematize…To analyze systemic risk is completely differed from exposing enterprise or portfolio risk. And so different are the models, methods and solutions…the innovation.

In the next post I'll create a more practical view into the Structure Types…