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The growth process is facilitated by a feedback

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Unformatted text preview: terial. In human systems that follow a self-maintaining design, change can take place in the form of a transformation, a shift or change in the ways in which the pieces are organized within the system. Hoffman reports on the writings of Dell and Goolishian, of Bateson, and of Ashby that help to explain sudden discontinuous change. Discontinuous Change Mechanisms Dell and Goolishian‘s work is based on a notion of change that they refer to as “order through fluctuation” (p. 53). Families maintain homeostasis so long as the pressures on the system are relatively stable. But often events put considerable stress on the family, requiring that they function beyond their previous level of functioning, or they will break down. The growth process is facilitated by a feedback mechanism described by physicist, Prigogine, called “evolutionary feedback…[which is] a non-equilibrium ordering principle” (p. 53, emphasis added) that operates when the fluctuations in a system exceed its homeostatic range. Systems tend to operate inside of a Chapter 4: Strategic & Systemic range of stability within which fluctuations are damped down, and the system remains more or less unchanged. Should a fluctuation become amplified, however, it may exceed the existing range of stability and lead the entire system into a new dynamic range of functioning (p. 5354). Dell and Goolishian contend that families cannot be understood by using a “cybernetic analogy on a mechanical model of closed system feedback” (p. 51). The cybernetics of living systems is different, they claim, vividly illustrated by their discontinuous changes, and sudden leaps into new levels of integration. Bateson also spoke of the human capacity to move beyond simple behavioral replication to creativity, art, learning, and change. The “processes of change feed on the random. The essence of learning and evolution is exploration and change” (p. 53). According to Ashby, families seem to operate on a bi-modal feedback mechanism. The system remains unchanged so long as the internal or external environment is stable...
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