Integral City Map 4: Shape-shifting Structures That Fit

Integral City how do we honor the many systems, structures and infrastructures that have emerged to shape you ? Map 4 offers us a cartography of organizational forms so we can appreciate how many functions serve the complexity of city life.

Integral City Map 4: The Complex Adaptive Structures of Change

Integral City Map 4: The Complex Adaptive Structures of Change

The built structures of the city are often the first boundaries that an observer remarks upon. These external expressions are artefacts of the internal structures in the brain/minds of city inhabitants that have now become visible (e.g. through fMRI scans). Both inner and outer structures of human systems arise from the adaptive process of people responding to life conditions (across all scales from global climatic-geological to local micro-biotic).

Map 4 is something like an archeological cross-section of the organizations that have emerged in the city over the last 5000 years.  Map 4 discloses the shapes of organizations as they have complexified  from family hearth, to clan circle, to territorial castle, to bureaucratic hierarchy, to industrial grid, to social network, to systemic ecology, to global noosphere.

And while all these organizational forms can be identified discretely, in fact they are now interconnected and cross-linked just like the organelles within a cell. Moreover, we know that the living system in each organization processes energy, matter and information through 19 sub-systems – just like all the living systems that make it up (including cells, organs, bodies, groups and sub-organizations). In fact Map 4 reveals that the organizations in the city, are moving towards further complexity, operating in the city just like the organs in  a whole living systems.

It is not difficult for us to imagine that soon individual cities will be operating as organs in a planet of cities, where cities will create the 19 global systems required to exist as a planet of living cities.

I have described the merits of this map (borrowing from the organizational icons in the book Spiral Dynamics) in the audio (and printed) book, Integral City: Evolutionary Intelligences in the Human Hive. I also discussed it with Ken Wilber during our Integral City 2.0 Online Conference (and Integral Life) Interview. Map 4 as a whole captures the Integral Intelligences of the city with special focus on the Structural Intelligences , as well as Living,  Emergence, Meshworking and Navigating  Intelligences).

Map 4 in the Integral City demonstrates strong patterns that relate to the natural designs in Tim Winton’s Pattern Dynamics (TM) Structure and Dynamics Patterns. But the Pattern of Structure reflects very similar patterns of boundaries, networks, complexity and emergence as in Map 4. The Pattern of Structure in the city shows us how human systems shape-shift boundaries, internal patterns and purposes to strategically survive and thrive.  At its core the Structure Pattern gives systems their frameworks for enabling processes to be replicated into energy-efficient activity.

Map 4 brings into focus the levels of complexity that are embedded into the strata of Map 1. Map 4 reveals the organizational structures that are nested as holons into the holarchy of Map 2. Finally the structural patterns of Map 4 show the organizational contexts within which the relationship exchanges of Map 3 both normalize and emerge from. Ultimately without the structures in Map 4, a city would not be able to sustain its economy, social, institutional or cultural life.

PD Structure

Map 4 reveals aspects of the Pattern of Structure because it reveals seven qualities identified by the language of Pattern Dynamics (TM):

  1. Boundary: Map 4 shows that each type of organization is a system with a boundary. Because boundaries are fundamental to seeing in systems, it is valuable to know how to identify, respect and negotiate boundaries in the city.
  2. Holon: Map 4 shows how 8 different types of organizations can each be considered a holon – a whole system. And taken together all the organizational holons in the city make up the city itself as a holon.
  3. Hierarchy: Map 4 is effectively a hierarchy of complexity – each organization in the genealogy transcends and includes core aspects of the organizations that have emerged before it. It should be noted that within the organizational lineage, some organizations are dominator hierarchies – and these continue today for managing effective responses to such situations as emergencies and terrorism.
  4. Network: Map 4 can be re-organized to better display the self-organizing network that emerges when organizations create supply chains with inter-sectoral exchanges of information, energy and matter. These networks become the precedent structures necessary to deepen connections and commitments for the development of shared objectives like innovation ecosystems.
  5. Complexity: Map 4 shows a step-by-step emergence of complexity as each organizational pattern integrates more complex goals, roles and capacities into its structures. With each new layer of complexity the organization (and eventually the city) can impact greater spans of space, time and moral influence.
  6. Holarchy: Map 4 is essentially a holarchy of organizations shown in levels of complexity. This resonates strongly with Map 2 which nests this holarchy in ways that individuals and groups within the city overlap with one another. However, another implication of the aspect of holarchy is the opportunity it offers for meshworking. This means that capacities are aligned around shared purpose, goals, processes, standards, resources and timelines.
  7. Field: Map 4 only hints at the field of connections that emerge from the structures of the city. However, the field can be thought of as a non-linear, energetic set of connections that can be as intangible as the “spirit of the city”  (which we explore in Map 5)- or as visible as the skyline of the city which depicts its core values in built form.

Integral City how do we honor the many systems, structures and infrastructures that have emerged to shape you ? Map 4 reveals the historical lineage of organizational structures in the city. And although not every city has all these organizations or patterns at a fully mature stage, most major cities in the world have the organizations at least to the bureacratic and industrial levels of complexity – and in small experiments the social networks, systems ecologies and innovation ecosystems are beginning to sprout.  No matter how many layers of organizational complexity a city currently nurtures, they all co-exist in complex networks (and sometimes meshworks), that (like the brains they reflect) enable the production of all the goods and services necessary to support the life of the holarchy of Map 2, the relationships of Map 3 and the human systems potential represented in Map 1.

In other blogs we have explored of Integral City Maps Maps 1 , 2 and 3. In a future blog we add the spiritual insights from Map 5.

About the Author:

HI I am the Founder of Integral City Meshworks Inc. and Chief Blogger. Working with cities and eco-regions, I ‘meshwork’ or weave people, purpose, priorities, profits, programs and processes to align contexts, grow capacity and develop strategies for sustainability and resilience in the Integral City. You can read more details about me here http://integralcity.com/about/about-the-founder/

12 Comments

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