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Coevolution

No-one is an island. No system or organism, no company, no person, no team evolves free of context. And the context isn’t static. Nothing is static. Even the “perfect balance” of an equilibrium, when seen closer, is a local flux between states. All parts are interconnected and capable of influencing the others, often in ways not anticipated. Coevolution is a way to describe how entities can shape each others’ characteristics when changing in each others’ presence. 

A term hailing from biology, Coevolution is an idea that is finding a new home in organisational studies. Think of a startup in an emerging market. The startup can influence the market and vice versa. Each can influence the other. A new team in a company that is undergoing acquisition. Both the acquiring and acquired company, plus the new team are evolving together. 

Thinking about Coevolution is helpful when you want to reason about planning and execution. It encourages you to think “How is my organisation influencing the evolution of the other entities? Is it in the way I would like? What leverage do we have? How are the other entities shaping us? What are the forces at play? How are we going to work with that?”

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