Spandrels and exaptations

October 16, 2009

Brunelleschi or other architects of the renaissance did not set out to design spandrels, those curved triangular areas between the arches supporting cupolas. Even if later on spandrels turned out to have their own utility, they appeared initially only as byproducts of adaptations. The same happens in evolution: not everything adaptive today appeared because it was adaptive. Gould and Lewontin called such accidental byproducts of adaptations — exaptations.

When stuck in a suboptimal peak of an adaptive landscape — whether in business or any other field — look to potential spandrels lurking in your enterprise for help in ratcheting up to the next peak.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts

About the Cynefin Company

The Cynefin Company (formerly known as Cognitive Edge) was founded in 2005 by Dave Snowden. We believe in praxis and focus on building methods, tools and capability that apply the wisdom from Complex Adaptive Systems theory and other scientific disciplines in social systems. We are the world leader in developing management approaches (in society, government and industry) that empower organisations to absorb uncertainty, detect weak signals to enable sense-making in complex systems, act on the rich data, create resilience and, ultimately, thrive in a complex world.

Cognitive Edge Ltd. & Cognitive Edge Pte. trading as The Cynefin Company and The Cynefin Centre.


Social Links: The Cynefin Company
Social Links: The Cynefin Centre
< Prev

Imprisoning neology

- No Comments

Today's front page of the Wall St Journal has a hilarious article on the serious ...

More posts

Next >

Great people. a real debate then bureacratic insanity and insects

- No Comments

Overall October has been a bad month for the blog. I normally achieve a ...

More posts

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram