How does the new come into being? And what might be the parts of such a process?
When we realize the fallacies of the individualistic and essentialist “ideation first” paradigms to make sense of the actualities of innovation, we look to other possibilities. Complexity science offers a powerful alternative in how it approaches novelty from a dynamic, non-linear and relational perspective.
Such a perspective on how novelty emerges focuses on how processes come together forming an integrated and individuated system where the relations become the basic unit.
Calling such an emergent system simply “non-linear” does not tell one much about the form of causality or how this logic works in relation to the emergence of novelty. Two critical concepts can help here in regards to how innovations come about: System Causality and Dynamic Co-emergence.
System Causation looks at how the whole influences the parts. The “whole” is nothing other than the relations between the sub-processes (things) which structure the spaces of possible actions such that certain new actions are possible.
When a novel system gains an independence (emerges and individuates) it becomes irreducibly relational. The relations influence, and ultimately subsume the parts into a novel emergent structure. The component parts ultimately have no non-relational status. Thus pointing to any one part (an individual, an idea, etc.) as “the cause” is simply not meaningful.
System Causation is thus part of a process of highly dynamic co-emergence. Innovation is such a process where the parts and the whole co-create each other in an extended process of co-emergence.
But such a general understanding of complex dynamic systems is one part of developing a new alternative approach to innovation…
When we connect this pragmatic process of system causational co-emergence to:
1. Techniques from Enactive Cognition where the embodied subject and its immediate environment are the basic unit of sense-making and ultimately cognition (via a process of mutual co-creation) +
2. A set of techniques for of how existing features of the environment can be co-opted for novel effects (Exaptation as method), +
3. A pragmatic methodology for how a novel and distinct process can shape and transform other larger stable existing processes (Epicyclical Feedforward processes)
— perhaps, then we begin to have an explicit and non-serendipitous way of utilizing the basic processes of innovation to effect change.