Seasonal Polyphenism

One of the interesting hives of thought that has always consumed me is failover, redundancy and scalability. In other words, NINES availability. The interesting irony is that a conversation on NINES is dust in the wind absent a list of pre-requisite decisions and behaviors.

These choices,centered around building team, company, product and service, are outstanding intellectual challenges I enjoy. Doing well at these elements is to head in an important and correct direction. Building usefulness. To believe that having these in place rocks the earth like nothing else is shortsighted. These elements, while critically important to our birth, existence and evolution, are merely foundational steps prior to moving to the next step in our morphology: unconditional availability.

{
IF we have a system that people want to use
   THEN it must be available for consumption
ELSE we will have no customers or revenue
   AND we will have no need for team, company or product;
}

Sure, we can slice up the conversation multiple ways just like our technical stack. Pre-caching, load-balancing, web-servers, UI/UX, logging, languages and libraries, databases, cores, storage, physical v logical server farming, distributed topology and so forth. Choice flavours? Combinations? Conditions? What comes first? When to proactively versus reactively evolve? Religion? Science? It isn't a technical conversation alone.

We can additionally argue there is no need for system without product. No need for product without the key feature. No conversation of company without team, nor team without transparency as Lencioni rightly articulates. Decisions without numbers. Numbers without traps, hooks, filters, loggers and sniffers. And so forth. Rabbit holes not necessary to traverse unnecessarily. Perhaps the conversation might not be facts, figures, features and behaviors alone either.

Determining product, service, company, culture, market, approach, definitions of done and success are nothing less than a sojourner's paradise. Individually, each composes a metaphorically self-encapsulated ecosystem. Together, they become something more. A system. Dependent. To evolve, each must remain adaptable. To be adaptable, one must be available. Autonomy is therefore dependency. Dependency on sub-system polyphenism.

My current work further validates what I already believed and continue to enjoy as a life principle. Polyphenism. Context-driven adaptation or seasonal polyphenism. To become what is required of you contextual to the time and situation requires adaptation. Polyphenic behaviour assumes recognition of seasonal system attributes.

I could easily belabour the point. For example, can the evolution of a sub-component kill the sub-component itself? The system? Can evolution of the system make a sub-component irrelevant? Can lack of evolution devalue and kill a sub-component which kills a system? An excellent conversation.

To discuss my favorite systems engineering subject, availability, assumes system, component and element-level polyphenism.

To be a part of such a an adaptable, evolution-capable system, assumes sub-system polyphenic abilities. And sub-systems are composed of individual sub-assemblies and finally, elements. An element in such a context includes you and me. Absent polyphenistic attributes, we're nothing but a bunch of Dodo birds.

Just for fun, was the Dodo an element, sub-component or itself a system?

How about this for an answer: no matter the size of the ecosystem, to be a healthy system, you never get to be just an element and only an element. And to have useful conversation and action regarding NINES, you need to know the answer to the question.

So I'll ask the question again, differently. Was the Dodo an element, sub-component or itself a system? And did the Dodo exhibit polyphenic characteristics? I'll help you a little bit, the Dodo is extinct.