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Transformational challenge of global governance: changing gear and development


Towards Polyhedral Global Governance: complexifying oversimplistic strategic metaphors (Part #14)


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The above configuration of the 12 Archimedean polyhedra together is once again a description which raises the operational challenge of how to shift, according to need, between the distinct operating framework that each represents -- without losing cognizance of the whole. As with the gears of a vehicle, it is typically a mistake to go from "first gear" to "fourth gear", for example. There are transformational pathways between the operating frameworks that each polyhedron represents.

The above configuration of the 12 circumscribing spheres as a cuboctahedron points to the importance of this structure as highlighted by R Buckminster Fuller (Synergetics: Explorations in the geometry of thinking, 1975). Also referred to as the "vector equilibrium" or "jitterbug", its dynamics suggest a range of possibilities for organizational transformation (cf The Vector Equilibrium and its Transformation Pathways, 1980). This has the merit of stressing the possible dynamic characteristics of any viable global "union".

The jitterbug is widely distributed as a toy (a "vector flexor"). This has been used to illustrate the processes of team syntegrity (cf J Truss, et al. The Coherent Architecture of Team Syntegrity: from small to mega forms) . A number of illustrative movies demonstrate the stages in its transformation and their relationship to a related structure whose significance was extensively explored by Fuller, namely the tensegrity (see Gerald de Jong. Tensegrity Jitterbug; Robert W. Gray, Jitterbug Defined Polyhedra: the shape and dynamics of space, 2001) [more]. Regarding these transformations, Bonnie Goldstein DeVarco (Invisible Architecture: the nanoworld of Buckminster Fuller, 1997) notes:

In a closest packed group of 12 spheres around one, a vector equilibrium can be inscribed. Fuller called his simple vector equilibrium, when made out of flexible hubs and struts, a "jitterbug" because it twisted to exhibit, while in continuous motion, a series of shapes which accommodate and transform into one another. In its most open stage, it is the cuboctahedron. If it is twisted and contracted, it will become an open icosahedron with six struts missing and with one more contraction it will become the octahedron. It can then be folded down further into a tetrahedron and finally to a simple triangle. Then, simply unfold, untwist and the jitterbug pops back to its original shape, the cuboctahedron or, in Fuller's dynamic system, the Vector Equilibrium.

An excellent mathematical study of the stages of this transformation has been made by Robert W. Gray (The Jitterbug Motion, 2002).

Beer in fact focused his initiative on the icosahedron as a basis for team communication. This choice obscures the value of exploring the broader set of communication protocols (cf Transcending Duality through Tensional Integrity, 1978) -- of which the icosahedron is the underlying structure for only 6 of them (through one set of truncations).

Polyhedral tensegrity structures emerging from a configuration of non-touching "poles" or "pillars"
Computer representation in virtual reality Physical model showing associative (communication) links
Polyhedral tensegrity structures emerging from a configuration of non-touching "poles" or "pillars" Polyhedral tensegrity structures emerging from a configuration of non-touching "poles" or "pillars"

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