Fleming then produces a hexagonal diagram that creates an additional two phases: the Release phase is followed by “Break-up”, while exploitation is followed by “Reconnection and Growth”, which then leads into the conservation phase.
He defines the period of greatest resilience as being the later stages of Reconnection and Growth, and the earlier stages of Conservation. During this time the system becomes more and more connected and grows in size and complexity.
However, a point comes when institutions emerge that require more coordination from the centre, leading to top-down control and a loss of flexibility and imagination. Solutions are sought in standardisation and efficiency improvements and in increasing rules and procedures.
Shocks inevitably loom, but the response is to look to even larger-scale solutions, and this leads to greater rigidity and complication. The longer the growing shock is postponed, the greater it will be. Eventually the system collapses.
Is there any alternative to the cycle of growth and destruction? Yes, but it involves devolving power and autonomy to the local level, resulting in small scale radical and innovative solutions that can be replicated elsewhere. This will be explored in part 3.