"Hybrid Complex Adaptive Engineered Systems: A Case Study in Defence"
Naturally arising Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) display a common ability to adapt and thrive in the face of pressure, change and competition, although they can also fail, sometimes catastrophically. Previous work (Grisogono & Ryan, 2003) has demonstrated that a defence force exhibits the basic properties of a CAS. This work is extended to investigate adaptive mechanisms operating within a defence force at three scales analogous to naturally arising adaptation at the levels of organism, species and society. In complex sociotechnical systems such as a defence force, mechanisms and processes designed and engineered by humans coexist with, and interact with the naturally arising adaptive mechanisms to produce a hybrid complex adaptive engineered system. Exploring the implications of conscious human design decisions influencing the emergent functionality of a CAS, we illustrate firstly how spontaneously arising informal adaptive feedback can often undermine the intentional, formal adaptive processes in such systems. This occurs when a centralised, mechanistic and linear command and control model produces unintended consequences due to the unpredictable nature of the underlying CAS. Secondly we demonstrate the potential for hybrid systems to harness the benefits of the underlying adaptive systems while utilising CAS-informed design effort to shape the emergent system function effect. The results provide a new understanding for effective command and control of hybrid complex adaptive engineered systems and have implications for operations, systems design, capability development and force transformation within defence. Reference: Grisogono, A. & A. J. Ryan, Designing Complex Adaptive Systems for Defence, SETE 2003 Conference: Practical Approaches for Complex Systems, Canberra, 2003.