Winning in the Age of Bohonomics

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Big Science and Big Innovations: An Adventure between Holism and Reductionism

As we know reductionism is the view that the behavior of a system can be explained by understanding its components. Reductionism is the basis of how any researchers starts to solve a complex problem. S/he divides the problem into sub-problems, analyzes them, and finds their solutions and may divide them to sub-sub problems for more simplification. And so progress of science continues. Mostly, this is the basis of the western science. When reductionist model is used as an explanation it depends on an analogy between the components of the model and the components of the system. The analogy is between the components of the model and the parts of the model. For example, Descartes proposed an idea that non-human animals could be reductively explained as automata.

Reductionism can mean either (1) an approach to understanding the nature of complex things by reducing them to the interactions of their parts, or to simpler or more fundamental things. Reductionism can also mean (2) a philosophical position that a complex system is nothing but the sum of its parts, and that an account of it can be reduced to accounts of individual constituents. Methodological reductionism is the strong position that the best scientific strategy is to attempt to reduce explanations to the smallest possible entities. Thus, according to methodological reductionism, all scientific theories either can or should be reduced to a single super-theory through the process of theoretical reduction.

Reductionists do not view that systems somehow function as wholes and that their functioning cannot be fully understood solely in terms of their component parts. They believe that sub-systems of the whole system do not have any problematic functioning. Reductionism in science means that a complex system can be explained by reduction to its fundamental parts.

Holism is another view to understand systems. The idea of holism was broadly presented by Jan Smuts, the famous military leader and a philosopher, but the principle of holism was concisely summarized by Aristotle in the Metaphysics: “The whole is more than the sum of its parts”. Holism is the view that some phenomena that appear at the system level do not exist at the level of components, and cannot be explained in component-level term. Thus, holistic models are more focused on similarities between systems and less interested in analogous parts. A holistic modeling approach to modeling often consists of two steps (not necessarily in this order): (1) Identify a kind of behavior that appears in variety of systems and (2) find the simplest model that demonstrates that behavior.

Holism is based on a basic idea that the whole has some properties that is parts lack. Holism has traditionally appeared as a model of thinking in the philosophy of biology, psychology and in the human sciences. Holism is the big modeling idea that natural systems (social, economic, physical, mental, biological, chemical, linguistic, etc.) and their properties should be viewed as wholes, not as collections of parts.

In the latter half of the 20th century, holism led to systems thinking and its derivatives, like the sciences of chaos and complexity analysis. There are hard systems theory and soft systems theory. Systems are frequently so complex that their behavior is, or appears, “emergent”: it cannot be deduced from the properties of the elements alone. Thus it is also “new”. Emergent, self-organizing systems are a part of the whole system in many scientific analyses of psychology, sociology and biology. Scientific holism holds the idea that the behavior of a system cannot be perfectly predicted, no matter how much data is available. Even “big data” does not solve this fundamental scientific problem.

We cannot explain the existence of synergy without holistic thinking. According to scientific interpretation of holism, there are good ontological reasons that prevent reductive models in principle from providing efficient algorithms for prediction of system behavior in certain classes of systems. This is a very serious question for many fields of new inventions and innovations. Why to accept limits for ideas?

With roots in Joseph Schumpeter, the evolutionary approach might be considered the holist theory in economics. Evolutionary economics deals with the study of processes that transform economy for organizations, companies, institutions, corporations, industries, employment, production, trade and growth within, through the actions of diverse agents from experience and interactions, using evolutionary methodology. Evolutionary economics share certain language game elements from the biological evolutionary approach. Thomas Kuhn, the author of “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” (1962), accepted this kind of evolutionary approach to scientific (r)evolutions.

Innovation processes are not easily explained by reductionist models. Evolutionary economics is typically used when innovation processes are explained. Evolutionary economics analyses the unleashing of a process of technological and institutional innovation by generating and testing a diversity of ideas which discover and accumulate more survival value for the costs incurred than competing alternatives.

One can note that holism and reductionism are different models with different purposes. For reductionist models, realism is the primary value, and simplicity is secondary. For holistic models, it is the other way around.

Thus, the choice of modeling is a normative choice. We should be open for both perspectives of the big science. Reductionism helps us to focus. Holism helps us to open our eyes.




Weinberg, S. (1992) Dreams of a Final Theory: The Scientist’s Search for the Ultimate Laws of Nature. New York. Pantheon Books.

Jones, R.H. (2000) Reductionism: Analysis and the Fullness of Reality. Bucknell University Press.

Thomas Kuhn


Kuhn, T.S. (1962) The Sructure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.




Dennett, D. (1995) Darwin’s Dangerous Idea. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Downey, A.B. (2012) Think Complexity. Sebastopol, CA: O´Reilly.

Jan Smuts


Audi, R. (1999) The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy. Second Edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Boosting Corporate Creativity

There is a critical need of every business today: leveraging creativity. There are not “hocus-pocus” solutions how to develop, nurture and manage models for sustained innovation. One thing is certain issue in a process of boosting corporate creativity: It is not one-man show. Collaboration must be embedded into corporate culture as a way to foster ideas, inventions and innovations of products, services and processes.

One self-evident starting point for boosting corporate creativity is the following: Creative people make innovative organizations. If there are no creative persons and change agents inside an organization, this kind of organization never will be innovative.

Too often organizations and corporations want have average persons with average abilities and teams. Going beyond the average with high level of diversity is seen to be too dangerous and risky in many corporations.

Uniform business culture is seen safer than more individual and proactive business culture. Many managers and leaders want to be inside their “safety zones”. However, we really need unique products and services to be competitive in the markets of hyper-competition. There is not too much fresh thinking in organizations and corporations. Sometimes our wrong self-images, rigid self-esteems and self-punishment mechanisms prevent us to innovate. In corporations we must destroy the barriers to get new ideas.

Too uniform approaches do not help us to make a difference. Infinite possibility awaits those willing, able, and prepared to make the journey to creativity and innovations. We must be brave to explore and exploit new possibilities. First we do it in our imaginations, then with our technology, and finally through our direct action and experience. Creating new ideas and innovations is inherently fun, but also necessary. People need muscles, but they need also big creative muscles and strong brain power.

How to boost creativity in the corporate world? It is possible to present 10 principles to boost creativity:

  1. Develop many new channels and sources for new ideas and inventions.
  2. Make barriers to getting new ideas as low as possible.
  3. Collect many ideas with predictable, directional and surprising ways and evaluate them with collaborative models and co-creative ways.
  4. Implement ideas and inventions. Test and pilot ideas and inventions.
  5. Develop a broad understanding of innovation management and creative thinking.
  6. Identify blocks to creative thinking and the skills individuals can use – and managers can foster to increase creative responses.
  7. Use knowledge and intuition based methods to get fresher ideas and solutions more often.
  8. Allow a personal creative drive and innovation flow which will help people to achieve their personal and professional goals.
  9. Create creativity programs for individuals to improve their creative abilities inside the corporation.
  10. Motivate and give value to creativity and new ideas. Create an effective incentive system, which motivatescreative thinking, inventors and innovations.

Organizations need also bohemian game changers. They never settle for average performance. They know that you can perform a task better this time than you performed it in previous times. With any task you set your mind to, always give it your best. They have stopped living their life in a routine calendar system.

Mediocrity mentality will never help your organization to big success. It will do damage in the material as well as in your spiritual life. Only doing enough to get by is considered mediocrity, not excellency. Mediocrity is dangerous for creativity and destroying innovation activities. Mediocrity is ordinariness as a consequence of being average and not outstanding. Mediocrity refers to a person of second-rate ability. The individuals that practice mediocrity take on its characteristics, which is inferiority and inadequacy.

Bureaucracy and too formal administration mechanisms can also destroy innovation activity inside organization.

To boost creativity is a big possibility for all the corporations. There is need to take creativity seriously and develop systemic strategic thinking and actions in favor of creativity and innovative organization.


1 Creativity

Gardner, H. (1993) Creating Minds. New York: Basic Books.

Mauzy, J. & Harriman, H. (2002) Creativity Inc. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School.

2 Corporate creativity

Lockwood, T. & Walton, T. (2008) Corporate Creativity. Developing an Innovative Organization. New York: Allworth Press.

Meeting Robotization and Automation Challenge of the Ubiquitous Society: Towards Infinite Possibility Frontiers?

Technological and in broad sense ubiquitous revolution is today delivering a world of opportunity and leisure. Today computer technology is cheap. People are expensive. Computers are becoming smaller and smaller, and can be attached, embedded or blended to almost all things from man-made to natural ones in the world. During ubiquitous revolution computers become integrated parts of these things instead of independent individual artifacts. Due to the attachment, embedment and blending as well as emerging ubiquitous networks, ordinary things surrounding us are capable of (1) computing and communicating, (2) connecting and/or being connected to each other, and (3) behaving and acting rationally with some smartness or intelligence. Smart ubiquitous machines and robots are so called “everywhere” systems.

But this kind of new technological opportunity will not be delivered to all. For many people coming ubiquitous tech revolution will deliver misery and decline. Because of economic cost structures many workers will be replaced by the new technologies over the coming decades. Robots and automation mean silent revolution in many work places and societies. The economics of this new world will be revolutionary.

One big problem of this revolutionary technology wave is that our policy makers do not understand it. They are not understanding, what is happening when computers and robots are doing most of the work. This means that our world has the potential to become immeasurably wealthier and richer. It is up to us to decide who will benefit and how the benefits of ubiquitous revolution should be distributed and redistributed. The basic dynamics of the cyber age creates many open windows for us.

The advance of science and technology is offering us a gift. But do we know how to receive it? The gift could be nothing less than prosperity for all. More wealth is available for not just those people who are able to grab it for themselves. Big link to prosperity to wealth has been the job. New technologies are powerful creators of jobs, until the moment it becomes mature and breaks free of human involvement. Many technologies have an infant age, an adolescent age, a mature stage and finally an old age. This technological cycle create promises, but need constant care and attention. During this technology cycle many jobs are created. New technologies open new horizons, but they also destroy some old structures and models of behavior. Some innovations are also disruptive, not constructive.

In its mature stage the old technology is well understood and can fend for itself. It does not require assistance to get on with its work. Jobs are eliminated but it still delivers the goods. However, in its old age old technology is subject to attack and replacements. This cycle is a typical process of capitalism. Capitalism can only be understood as an evolutionary process of continuous innovation and creative destruction as Joseph Schumpeter defined it.

B. Joseph Pine II and Kim C. Korn (2011) have presented a big vision of future technologies in their book “Infinite Possibility”. They see that ubiquitous revolution will create for us infinite frontier concerning the progression on economic value. Customization and commoditization of goods, services, experiences and transformations are key activities in this process of “infinite possibility”. The digital frontier provides us many possibilities in the universe, where time, space and matter create many alternative possibilities.
Real and virtual spaces are creating one interesting dimension of the space. Atoms and bits are creating second key dimension of the matter. Thirdly, actual and autonomous time is third critical dimension of the time. These 3 dimensions of time, matter and space create new frontiers for wealth creation and innovative solutions in economies and societies.

To understand the scale and scope of new possibilities in these 3 dimensions can help us to create more wealth and more jobs in the future. Infinite possibility is not gross overstatement. It is analogical to LEGO brick game, a simple thing of material substance, which is genuinely immeasurable, and truly limitless.

Now need bohemian creativity to build our own LEGO games of the future. This means that we must be ready to build up new technological innovation, new business innovation and new social innovations for a society with new technological infrastructures and settings. We must be able to create modular and systemic innovations, which are really reshaping human futures.

1 Ubiquitous robot
2 Joseph Schumpeter
3. Infinite possibility paradigm
Pine II, B. Joseph and Korn, Kim C. (2011) Infinite Possibility. Creating Customer Value on the Digital Frontier. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers Ltd.
4. LEGO thinking
Gregersen, Hal, Dyer, Jeff and Christensen, Clayton M. (2012) Book excerpt: How strong are your Lego thinking skills? April 27th, 2012. Web:

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