HSD in the World: A Strange Attractor Pattern

In mathematics there is a group of patterns referred to as “attractors”. In complex systems, recognizable patterns of behavior can evolve over time, based on the system’s initial conditions. Mathematicians studied those patterns and identified unique sets of conditions that shape the different types of patterns. We use the insights of these mathematicians to inform our basic decisions and actions.

For example, point attractors are patterns that emerge when activity in a system moves toward a common ending point. In schools, student progress is tracked by individual progress toward graduation or commencement. That shared end point sets conditions for the similarities that exist the path each student takes through their school experience. This shared pattern of movement toward a known end point has influenced expectations of curriculum and instruction. How schools function set conditions to influence, measure, and promote students as they move along the path of that point attractor pattern.

Periodic attractors emerge when all activity in a system recycles in some sort of periodic, repeating way. In retail sales, for instance, types of clothing or gift items are easily available according to repeating cycles, depending on conditions such as seasons, holidays, and social trends. It is these cycles that drive retail activity through annual cycles. For example, in our part of the world, there are post-holiday sales in January. Hearts and roses show up in February. Cloverleaf symbols and leprechauns come out for March. Rain showers celebrate spring in April. Graduation robes and caps decorate the month of May. Wedding bells ring in June. Red, white, and blue bunting celebrate the 4th of July. Back-to-school images mark the end of summer. Ghosts and witches in fly around for October’s Halloween. Turkeys grace our tables in November. Snowmen chill and thrill us in December. The periodic attractor of retail sales help everyone know what to expect.

A strange attractor is the type of attractor pattern I find most interesting and useful. These patterns emerge when a system is bound by conditions that allow for infinite variability within a discrete boundary. In HSD, we think of strange attractors as emerging when a social system is contained by a set of simple rules and/or shared beliefs or paradigm.

In human systems, concepts like family, love, and freedom are shared across social groups.  We find that the expression of any one of those concepts may emerge in many different ways.  For example, HSD, as a strange attractor pattern, is bounded by the use of Pattern Logic, Adaptive Action, and the Simple Rules that govern a complex adaptive system (CAS). That means that as people use HSD, they create similar patterns of adaptation and response.

Individuals and groups around the globe use HSD in their daily professional practice, in their communities and families, and in their own personal development. Some have been formally trained. Some have read the books and use the principles as they understand them. In each unique situation, Pattern Logic, Adaptive Action, CAS, and the HSD Simple Rules set conditions that shape patterns of interaction, decision making, and service. Each practice is unique, with individuals and groups working in the confines of their local contexts to shape recognizable patterns of HSD in action. A few examples of applications of HSD include:

  • Healthcare practitioners in Canada use HSD to strengthen their work teams and focus decision making on patient care.
  • Educators in the USA and Brazil use HSD to set conditions for learning among students from kindergarten to high school and beyond.
  • Government agencies in USA and Europe use HSD to inform decisions about strengthening their service and governance for constituents.
  • Agile coaches around the globe use HSD to expand the depth of support they can provide to Agile teams.
  • People in Asia, USA, Europe, and New Zealand have developed programs for leadership, coaching, governance, and youth development.
  • OD professionals around the world use HSD to support their clients in becoming more adaptable and resilient in these times of rapid change and turbulence.
  • Volunteers use HSD to help refugees navigate the challenges of leaving the war-torn country of Ukraine.

While these contexts are quite different, the patterns of practice are consistent because they are shaped by the conditions of the HSD strange attractor pattern.

A number of benefits emerge from considering HSD as a strange attractor in so many different applications and in so many locales around the globe. Some of those benefits include:

  • More and more people have access to HSD’s simple (but not always easy) approach to problem solving and decision making to help them deal with the turbulence and uncertainty they face. Each one shapes the work to be fit for function for them and their environments.
  • The number and diversity of projects and topics explored by HSD professionals and practitioners reveals the wellspring of applications that come from this generative field of study. Each new project or innovation adds to the depth and breadth of the field.
  • Materials are being developed in a variety of languages to increase accessibility.
  • The theory and practice of HSD maintains coherence across time.

The use of Pattern Logic in a CAS, Adaptive Action, and Simple Rules has strengthened the field of HSD. Diverse and coherent patterns reflect the potential for ever-broadening applications and use of HSD. As people in the HSD community work toward the HSD vision, this global strange attractor allows for effective response to local challenges and opportunities.

Be in touch to let us know how you use the HSD strange attractor to shape patterns in your world.

Disclaimer: Please note that this essay is not intended to be a scientific explanation of terms. It is grounded in my understanding of a scientific principle, which I apply in practical, more metaphorical ways. My purpose is to use that application to inform ongoing exploration of the ways HSD is used and applied in the world.

Join a global network of learning about HSD!
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.