CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
The current generations and the one/s to come, as well, most probably, are condemned to living with innovation. The word has two modern official meanings:
the process of making a new benefit from a new idea, either incremental or radical, either professional or outside authors' duty, either technological or non-technological; and
the outcome of such a process.
Empirical researchers find that very few ideas become registered inventions, about two thirds of ideas dying in this early phase of the process. Among survivors a few technological inventions are patented, and one single per cent of those become innovations and make a benefit for their consumers and hence their owners/authors. Among the other inventions, they say, about seven per cent make it through all the long way to becoming innovations as outcomes causing incremental users' benefit (they are essential for making the prevailing culture support innovation rather than routine changed to routinism and hate for innovation, first of all). Hence, the risk in the invention-innovation process is far beyond 90 per cent, but due to severe competition, the risk of living with no care for innovation causes an even higher risk because of a lack of competitiveness, which in turn produces a bad standard of living.
These high percentages require deep and serious thinking about their own causes. Here we come to systems thinking and cybernetics as the worldview of holistic thinking and methods trying to support holism of human thinking, decision making and action. All the cases of success at any work, including invention-innovation processes, share their background: a requisitely holistic rather than one-sided thinking, decision making and action. All the cases of failure share the opposite background. I may feel proud to have started linking systems theory and innovation three decades ago, and happy that European Union has required a similar synergy over the last five years or so officially. Still, the issue remains: why has such an obvious insight needed millennia since the ancient Chinese Yin-Yang and the ancient Greek Dialectics and millennia of successes of people practicing requisite holism in their lives and business – to becoming a theory called systems thinking/theory and cybernetics and to receive room in official documents? We see two basic backgrounds to this tragic fact:
humans have developed so much knowledge over millennia that everybody is unavoidably narrowly specialised in order to know enough about a small piece of reality and survive; and
specialised humans have received very little education in accepting or even loving each other due to mutual professional, racial, and other differences (rather then in spite of them).
In other words, humans were educated for independence and dependence rather than interdependence of the mutually different ones, who complete each other up by differences.
Ludwig von Bertalanffy, the grandfather of modern systems theory, said explicitly in the Foreword to his seminal book about the general systems theory (GST), that he had invented GST against over-specialisation of the modern times and as a worldview of holism rather than another narrowly specialised discipline. Today, humankind possesses a long set of specialised systems theories and cybernetics. They are all surviving in practice, which denotes they are beneficial. But they, anyway, are closer to traditional specialisation by disciplines than to holism by interdependences and mutual completing up of mutually different specialists. What matters is that GST and cybernetics have surfaces and become established right after humankind's three-in-a-row terrible experiences of consequences of one-sidedness rather than holism: two World Wars and the Big Depression in 1914-1945. Holism is precondition of humankind's survival, and in practice it may be reduced only to the requisite holism, the level of which is up to the authors of any idea, decision and action, and their responsibility.
This is true of invention reaching out to become innovation in all areas, including the double conference, held on 5-10 July 2005 in Maribor, Slovenia. University of Maribor, Faculty of Economics and Business, Institute for Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management, to which I belong as well, was helping WOSC – World Organisation of Systems and Cybernetics, and ISA – International Sociological Association, Research Committee 51 on Socio-cybernetics to arrange this double conference in co-operation with SDSR – Slovenian Systems Research Society under my presidency. We enjoyed co-operation of UNESCO and its edition Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS). The double conference included 11 symposia in WOSC addressing a number of areas, and the six day conference on “Socio-cybernetics and Innovation”. The 11 symposia are:
Engineering and Information Systems
World Education Systems Society Panel.
Three plenary talks, by Richard E. Lee (USA), MatjazÏ Mulej and coauthors, and Robert Vallée, were illustrating the wide span of systems theory and its application. There were 165 contributions with +200 authors from all continents. From these contributions about 35 were selected for authors to be invited to refine them for this double issue of Kybernetes. I enjoyed help of symposia editors in this effort including (by ABC order) Nicolae Bulz (Romania), Robert Dyck (USA), Adriana Grigorescu (Romania), Elohim Jimenez Lopez (Mexico/Austria), Sonja Sibila Lebe (Slovenia), Borut Likar (Slovenia), Sifeng Liu (China), Tatjana Medvedeva (Russia), Vojko Potočan (Slovenia), Marcel Stoica (Romania), Markus Schwaninger (Switzerland), Dejan Trček (Slovenia), Robert Vallëe (France). I wish to thank them all for their very honest and precious work. Unfortunately, all the selected authors did not join us in this issue. But all who did, reworked their papers to meet Kybernetes' standards of quality, although less then three quarters of submissions were admitted to the conferences. Thus, articles in this issue are original contributions.
As the conference local organiser, I wish to express my thanks for the opportunity to work on this conference, and to all of about 20 staff of my school for their help in making this event so, rewarding and successful. This is confirmed by all the comments made during the event and later on all comments I had a chance to hear during it and later on.