Chapters of a whole event (life):  
The canonical succession of self-organization in naturally occurring systems,
the "beginning to end, whole story" of the origin and life cycle of organized natural systems as events in time.

JLH HDS systems design science  6/01/09, 9/7/10, 7/25/11, 5/31/13

Chapter 0, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6

History curve &Timeline models from others - Spatial Diagrams of Causal Systems - Related topics - Edit Footnotes

Relationship to the physics complex system change

Natural systems are self-organizing learning processes -  applications & discussion


Connecting social language to Nature's process language 


Sensing and Responding to Overload,


Telling Whole Stories of How things Change,


Natural Systems Thinking Philosophy & Method.


Self organization as Niche making


The Uroboros Mistakes Her Tail for lunch


How natural system bankruptcy works


The trap at the end of low hanging fruit


The commons, the milieu, the space of Connection,


Steering for the organizational Lagrange Point

continued in Reading Nature's Signals based on  1990's Theory & Applications of the General Physics


Detailed Diagram

Classic Life cycle of natural system development and decay, alternating bursts and settlings of change

    - e.g. traced as for the development of an energy use event from its beginning to its end
    - used to refer to the general succession of necessary phases of organizational development
    - implied by the conservation laws, that it takes a process to change a process
    - used to help locate & study the periods of complex emergence of change in nature.



-- click above for old image --




Descriptive Notes

  • Alternating periods of "excitation + relaxation" for growth then decline
    observed as coming from the "chaordic" cells where relationships between independent parts
    are progressively building up and building down 

  • remotely sensed by intuitions of "something happening" and in data from the signatures of dynamic change

  • Emergence, Integration, Maturity, Disintegration and Decay
    "growth from a seed" that exhibits a succession of recognizable developmental stages  that each present new forms of organization

  • five phases of change, alternating between diverging and converging chains of developing self-organization

  • development as two irreversible processes of accumulating control of net energy

  • decline as two irreversible processes of losing control of net energy

  • & highlighted by their triggering, connecting and concluding events

  • as the system emerges as a process of searching its environment for positive responses

  • with the individual landmarks for approaching limits of responsiveness, such as emerging unresponsiveness, in relation to approaching limits of organizational scale, for complex internal and external networks, of complementary active and passive parts relieving each other of stress.    

continuities exposing nature working by complex organization beyond our view, as implied by energy conservation and found by observation

Descriptive names

(Building  up  &  Building down)  -  Maintaining  - (Breaking up & Breaking down)

(Divergence & Convergence in growth) - Maturity - (Divergence & Convergence in decline)

(beginning to completing growth) - maturity - (beginning to completing decline) 

(multiply searches to filling in the gaps) - stability - (multiply gaps to filling in searches)         

(branching out to branching in) - stability - (branching out to branching in)

(foundations to finishes) - use - (dismantling to recycling)

(collect) - transform - (distribute)

(departure & arrival) - resident - (departure & arrival)

(R selected sere to K selected sere) - climax ecology - (R selected sere to K selected sere)

(business start-up to market saturation) - cash cow - (break-up for parts to scrap heap          ) 

Diagram KEY   
Chapter#, Highlighted Shape of Process, Signs of derivative rates d', d'', d''', d''''

Network graph: Characterization List
  a. descriptive
  b. energy flow
  c. information
  d. network type
  e. network topology
  f. observables
  g. exploratory learning stage

h. business

Point#, Highlighted Time of Event,
Illustrative image, Characterizations

Chapter 0. .... no measures 0,0,0,0,... (next, prior)

Stage 0, Open Environment, accumulation of potentials, "before"

  1. proto-organization forms, the invisible phase, a quiet allowing fragile things to form without perturbation

  2. stable gradient wall, a potential to become tunneled by development of the system, no investment no returns

  3. information unconnected

  4. fragmentary threads

  5. no network definable

  6. no features observable

  7. pre-connection/arousal, dissonance

  8. exceptions

Point I.      .| .

Germination/Initiation, the seed of development, venture capital, fertilization, a combination of a non-renewable resource and a germ of organization or design, the "ah ha" moment occurring in an environment of opportunity for it.

  • a small flurry of events, consuming a 'seed' resource, venture capital

  • initiating smaller scale process or "kick-start", orientation inward

  • a distributed 'pull' or 'centripality' as loops appear

  • a continuity of change develops (1st outside observability)

  • the 'little bang' that initiates the big boom of immature growth and development predicted by the physics of change


Chapter 1 .| .deriv's all positive +, +, +, +,... (next, prior)

Growth/Gestation, multiply internal frameworks, "Building  up" - Immature Development - divergent increase

  1. 1st observed as an emerging continuity
    regular immature growth explosion, homeorhesis

  2. increasing energy density to size, intensification,
    growth, auto-catalysis, increasing EROI

  3. increasing acquisition of information constraints

  4. elaborating self-organizing interior networks,
    exploring their fringe, replicating positive returns

  5. network topologies start w/ uniform distrib. (1)

  6. changes of scale without limits, self-organization

  7. branching out, initiation/elaboration, possibly to a point of collapse

  8. seed resource & self-investment, innovation, growing returns invested in expansion

Point II.      .| .

Scale Transformation Point 1.  Birth/Emergence, Connection - reorientation from internal to external environmental relationships and responses

  • for maturation, turning outward, separation from origins, point of birth, and independence

  • switch to change in proportion to future from change in proportion to past


  • for overextended immaturity,

  • point of diminishing returns for self-investment

  • start reducing opportunity and increasing conflict


Chapter 2 .| . deriv's +, -, -, -, -,... (next, prior)

Maturation/Integration, Completing internal relationships, "Building  down", Develop external relationships -
(or failure to make the jump)

  1. stabilization & environ. integration, developing independence, or not

  2. energy maximization, efficiency as resource, diminishing rate of returns

  3. information refinement and diversification

  4. network pruning to form hubs diversifying links to exterior, or not

  5. network topologies end w/ inv. power law distrib. (1)

  6. expansion responsive to limits, self-org/adaptation or not

  7. branching in, completion/refinement, maturation

  8. sustainable resource & other-investment, stabilizing returns, diminishing returns for expansion

Point III.      .| .

Stabilization/Balance, Point of completion, Confirmation of role in destination niche in environment

  • Engagement with and acceptance by environment and/or solidification of homeostasis

  • Engagement with and acceptance by environment and/or solidification of homeostasis

  • acceptance by the environment of larger scale systems, emergent network embedded in greater networks



Chapter 3  ..  deriv's +, -, +, -, +,...  (next, prior)

Stage 3, Mature vitality - Continuation, homeostasis, normalizing strain within and without

  1. Stable responsive fluctuation, homeostasis, reproduction

  2. stable energy density flow rate, stable investment & return

  3. Healing exceeds information decay, recovery from perturbations

  4. connections with other networks slowly adapt

  5. network topologies, keeping power law distribution.

  6. limits moving with environments, self-adaptation

  7. participation in larger systems & relations, engagement

  8. service period, integration with community

Point IV.      .| .

Destabilization/Imbalance - Disconfirmation and loss of role in established niche in environment

  • disengagement with larger scales

  • not keeping up, breaking chains



Chapter 4   .|.  deriv's -, +, +, +, +,...  (next, prior)

Breaking up/Infirmity - Disintegration, divergent decline & senescence

  1. sensitivity to perturbation, unrecoverable gaps in homeostasis and environmental adaptation , aging accelerates

  2. energy flow and efficiency decline, declining investment & returns

  3. information resources insufficient for maintenance, excess information to the point of inflexibility

  4. network begins to loose critical mass or hubs

  5. unknown network statistical features

  6. internal & external connections loosen

  7. disengaging

  8. market succession to other needs

Point IV.      .| .

Scale Transformation Point 2. Disengagement/Disconnection - Point of withdrawal - reorientation from environmental to internal relationships and responses

  • turning inward

  • reorientation toward internal needs

  • letting go of external connections

  • draws others into taking over the niche.


Chapter 5   .|.  deriv's -, -, -, -, -,...  (next, prior)

Decay - "Breaking down", convergent decline & senescence,

  1. breakdown into separated parts

  2. Energy density flow rate gradually dropping below functional requirements, vanishing investment & returns

  3. unresponsive functions impose information burden

  4. some network remnants reconnect on new paths

  5. unknown network statistical features

  6. withdrawal from environ. draws others into niche

  7. detachment & decay

  8. lingering and shrinking niche

Point VI.     . |.

Death/Termination - opposite of germination/initiation, disbanding the emergent scale, event that ends the process

  • a small flurry of events

  • detachment from environment


  •  dissolution, bankruptcy, death


Chapter 6   . ... no measures... (next, prior)

Stage 6, Legacy lingering echoes, "after"

  1. environmental footprint fades, or used by others, some maintained
  2. stores and sources become used by others, no energy flow
  3. environmental niche & system pattern memory fading
  4. network remnants serve as 'compost' of parts or info
  5. unknown statistical features or remains
  6. trails of past effects
  7. pre-connection/arousal?


1) P Henshaw 1993, 2008 "The physics of change" and "Continuity and divergence theorem"

2) Stan Salthe 1993 Development and Evolution: Complexity and Change in Biology, MIT Press.

3) P Henshaw 1985 Directed Opportunity, Directed Impetus: New tools for investigating autonomous causation, Proceedings, Society for General Systems Research, Louisville KY

Numerous Other Topics - could be studied for their characteristics at each of the 6 points and 5 periods of change.

  1. In Network maps, nodes tend to be 'hives' and links to be 'markets' and the form of each evolves with the whole.  Mechanism of network includes numerous reciprocating cycles acting as pumps, like self-investment of energy in constructing and driving energy converting parts.

  2. Continuities tending to regular proportional change with multi scale fluctuation rather than algorithmic change, often indicating interaction with concurrently responding partners in the environment
  3. I find the best way to describe it is by saying that in stabilizing systems develop “ESP” or “equal strain principle”, in which they internally equalize strains and so the proportional relationships among their parts, and so define constant relationships and ‘stability’.   That’s another name for homeostasis, but more about how it works.   Sometimes they stabilize around a constant, sometimes around a rate of change, etc.
  4. the different characteristic individualities of development for each phase, like the paths of the environment maturing systems discover to integrate with or the paths of breakdown and loss of connections at the end.
  5. sometimes complex multi-stage life cycles like successive molting in an insect life cycle
  6. Various business management strategies apply to each chapter
  7. The 'natural laws' of the emergent system are an observer's expectations derived from the network of proportional relationships that it's network of internal balances establish, and also evolve with characteristic changes through each chapter.
  8. System "variety" in Ashby's sense, declines as the 'natural laws' of a system develop, as providing a more simplified means of control using the properties of the system itself, but then increases and changes boundaries as the system matures and complexly integrates with it's environment.

Related Reference Views of punctuated equilibrium as a process:

Connie JG Gersick  1991 "Revolutionary Change Theories: A Multilevel Exploration of the Punctuated Equilibrium Paradigm" The Academy of Management Review, Vol. 16, No. 1  pp. 10-36

Brown, Shona L. Eisenhardt, Katleen M 1997 The art of continuous change: linking complexity theory and time-paced evolution in relentlessly shifting organizations. Administrative Science Quarterly

Lyytinen, K., Newman, M. 2006. "Punctuated Equilibrium, Process Models and Information System Development and Change: Towards a Socio-Technical Process Analysis," Case Western Reserve University, USA . Sprouts: Working Papers on Information Systems, 6(1).

Kalle Lyytinen, Mike Newman  2006 "Punctuated Equilibrium, Process Models and Information System Development and Change: Towards a Socio-Technical Process Analysis"

Sweta D. Vajir 2007 "Adaptive Strategic Planning: Punctuated Equilibrium" ICFAI Journal of Business Strategy, Vol. 4, No. 2, pp. 38-46, June 2007

Stuart Kauffman, 2008 Reinventing the Sacred, 1995 At Home in the Universe, (quoted in Nash, 1995) "Soon after a major innovation, discovery of profoundly different variations is easy. Later innovation is limited to modest improvements on increasingly optimized designs"

Kalle Lyytinen and Mike Newman 2008 "Explaining information systems change: a punctuated socio-technical change model" European Journal of Information Systems 17, 589–613 & 2008 Operational Research Society Ltd. All rights reserved 0960-085X/08

Ichak Adizes - Adizes Institute, business learning consultants and education - publications

Other Related Timeline Models

1a Scales of Learning Phases                          1b Product Succession Curves

1c. Adizes Business plan development phases

 Performance Learning Curves:    2a. On the Job  &   2b Expertise

3a Action Learning Diagram


  Timeline Models 6/01/09      
1a Scales of Learning Examples Uses Key Observations
1b Product Succession      
1c Adizes Business Plan      
2 Performance On the Job      
3a Expertise Learning      
4 Action Learing      

9/18/09 There is a basic physics theorem underlying this whole approach to understanding self-organizing (non-deterministic) systems.  It connects the observed sequence of natural developmental processes with the requirements of energy conservation for systems of changing scale, expanding to an infinite series of conservation laws to derive a "law of continuity" for organizational change in nature.  The proof follows from taking a series of derivatives of the conservation laws and then reintegrating them, and then seeing how the form of the result fits the range of observed development processes.    Every energy transfer needs to begin and end without infinite accelerations, and the result is a map of how that could happen, as discussed in notes on the physics of change.   Each of the four directions of process feedback are irreversible processes of either divergent and convergent change, prompted by and prompting events on other scales.

Even when you don't observe the whole chain of development, the law of continuity implies a "null hypothesis".   Evidence of conserved change, such as changes of state or punctuated equilibria, point to discoverable complex systems of developmental diverging & converging change producing them, along with the environmental gradient they employ as an energy source.    Similarly noticing any one of the stages of a life-cycle can lead to discovering the others it is part of.   In that way these shapes and their characteristics are used as "pointers" to help unravel the local story of a system development event.

The origin of this model was watching development systems change their entire way of changing, engaging with new environments during an otherwise "seamless and uneventful" point #2 where their accelerations of change reverse.   Environmental relationships that had been exhibiting exploding kinds innovation and energy use suddenly switch to exhibiting refinements of design and stabilizing energy use.   I eventually realized that also corresponded to the transformational switch in attention and responses from internal to external relationships (#2) and matches the other switch from external to internal relationships (#4).   These change of scale moments generally accompany, and may require, periods of distinct calm.    It happens SO smoothly, during the growth of every organism, for example, as well as in the middle of every successful project at the office, it's rather mysteriously invisible as the key turning point in every succession of events that results in "conserved change" in environmental organization.

These "Transformation points" when complex systems switch their orientation from internal to external relationships, and from origin to destination environments, also correspond to periods of adding successively bigger unfinished business to taking successively smaller steps toward completing them.   For building a house, for example, that point is approximately when the roof goes on, and then successively smaller and smaller finishing tasks are needed to finally complete it before it can be occupied.   Those building projects that, for one or another reason, effectively "run out of lumber before putting on the roof", omit their growth transformation point, and never get completed and put into service as a result.

9/9/07 1/29/09 3/18 9/18  The emergence of natural systems "punctuates the equilibrium" of an environment with new forms that develop and persist in opposition to entropy, followed by decline and decay over time consistent with entropy.    This is a crib sheet or semiotic key pointing to  8 types of features for their 6 phases in the developmental story of individual complex system networks.  Feel free to use your own terms for them.  The changes in scale need a continuity of organizational changes that begin and end (¸¸.·´ ¯ `·.¸¸ )(why)(1).   It's a learning tool, applied as an empirical heuristic for exploring these independently self-originating systems.   It helps identify them as individuals and distinguish between their irreversible self-originating processes.   Special thanks for contributions from Stan Salthe particularly for attention to the information and energy flow features of the sequence(2).


Physics of Happening  jlh