Innovative Adaptations


‘Creativity’ represents the emergence of new forms within a system.

All natural systems display the capacity for creative evolution in response to changes in the conditions around them. Animals that camouflage themselves to mimic their environment must evolve their strategies as the landscape around them changes. Plant species will continually evolve new forms of protection as their predators evolve to overcome previous protective strategies. What role does creativity play within a system? Think about what it would be like if an organisation was constantly reinventing itself. Would it have enough periods of stable activity to be productive? Alternatively, what if an organisation never changed any aspect of how it was organised? How much energy does it take to create a new recipe versus using one you already know well? How could you balance an existing Creativity process or integrate a new one into a system in your life to improve how it is organised? How does Creativity serve to coordinate systems?


Significance:The Creativity Pattern represents the emergence of new forms and processes within systems.

Role:The role of Creativity is to help systems adapt to changes in the ever-changing environments around them.

Effect: Creativity demonstrates the large gains that can be made through successful innovation.

Balance:Creativity must be balanced so that, on the one hand, a system gains the benefits of successful innovation; but, on the other hand, it does not become exhausted through continually expending energy on uncertain experiments.


The arrow-tipped lines extending from the outer oval demonstrate the expansive emergence into new territory required to bring forth a creative act. The two inner shapes signify ‘parts’ that are encompassed by the larger oval into a ‘whole’ system. This basic part/whole configuration indicates the role of Rhythm as an Aspect of Source.


The emergence of novel adaptations within systems.


The principle of adaptive emergence:

The enduring health and evolution of any system depends on the appropriate balance and integration of:

  • creative experimentation with the ongoing successful operation of the system,for a given context.

Aspect: (see the Holarchy Chart)

Creativity is one of 7 primary Aspects of Source, the most foundational Pattern in the PatternDynamics™ framework.


Nature: Organisms, Ecosystems, and Biosphere

Organism:Organisms as diverse as viruses and mammals show both minor adaptations to temporary changes in things like moisture availability and major evolutionary leaps to accommodate greater changed circumstances, such as climate change. Any organism that places a large emphasis on experimental adaptations risks expending too much energy innovating. This will compromise existing productivity. On the other hand, organisms that do not adapt at all, or too slowly, will be out-competed by organisms that adapt to fit the changing circumstances better.

Inquiry: Even if outside circumstances do not change could an organism be outcompeted in its niche if another organism innovates in a way that makes it more productive in that niche?

Ecosystem:Forest ecosystems display adaptive responses that allow them to recover from disturbances as diverse as wind throw, landslip, human harvesting, pest infestation, and fire. If conditions like human harvesting place a greater imperative to adapt to disturbance than the forest can manage, it may be replaced by another vegetation type more suited to that type of disturbance. Alternatively, if forest ecosystems are protected by humans from the cycles of disturbance to which they have adapted, like fire, they may lose their natural vigour and become prone to attack by things they are not adapted to, like pests and disease normally held in check by fire events.

Inquiry: Is it important to recognize what types of disturbance events ecosystems have adapted to when managing them? If so, why?

Culture: Individuals, Organisations, and Socio-Economic Systems

Organizations:All organisations must balance the rate of change to their operational systems. If changes are made too frequently and speculatively the energy spent by members adapting to the new changes and the energy required to repair failures may compromise the health of the organisation. If changes are not made frequently enough the organisation may become dysfunctional by virtue of being out of step with the world around it.

Inquiry: Do competitors assess other organisations’ levels of adaptation to current conditions? Why is this an important consideration in a competitive environment?

Socio-Economic Systems:If governments make large or frequent changes to tax law without consulting industry and without giving enough notice of changes, business may find it difficult and resource intensive to adapt to the new fiscal conditions. If government regulators are slow to change tax law to fit with changed economic conditions then it may have an equally disruptive effect because tax revenue may not be being collected effectively enough to support the institutions required for a robust economy.

Inquiry:Can you think of an example where changes to tax law made it very difficult for some business to adapt quickly enough to survive.