6 Principles for a Robust Technology Integration Plan

Originally, I was thinking of penning this post, “Survival of the Fittest for Your Tech Integration Strategy”.  Read more to find out why.  As a former biology teacher, turned tech integrator, I found Martin Reeves, Simon Levin and Daichi Ueda’s recent article featured in the Harvard Business Review interesting.  The Biology of Corporate Survival offers a unique perspective on what causes corporations to fail or succeed, juxtaposed with survival principles from natural ecosystems.  You can also find some of these ideas revealed in Reeves’ co-authored book, Your Strategy Needs a Strategy.
R1601B_REEVES_NESTEDCOMPLEX     Screenshot 2016-05-09 08.48.03

Image taken from “The Biology Of Corporate Survival”  – January – February 2016 (c) HBR.org

The writers investigated 30,000 public firms in the US and came to the conclusion that businesses are disappearing like never before for their failure to adapt to the complexity of their environment.  If we were to align this idea to our various school contexts, we could then pose the question of why technology integration efforts fail?  In what ways do we anticipate, build and sustain complexity?

Their research takes a rather interesting look at the  intersection of business strategy, biology and complex systems and what makes each of the systems more robust.  Think about it, the more biologically diverse an environment and ecosystem are, the better their chances of natural survival and sustainability.  Additionally, it is known that healthy ecosystems can better withstand and recover from a variety of disasters.  The writers refer to these systems as “complex adaptive systems”.  In this vein, not only are businesses and biological species complex adaptive systems (CAS), but so are schools.m15-fig1-mikhail-rogov

In a complex adaptive system, the interactions between local events and organisms shape the system, resulting in a never-ending feedback loop, where systems are influenced by the individuals and the individuals by the system.  Such systems are nested in broader systems —  i.e. Teachers and students are nested in broader systems of school and local culture.

The authors propose six (6) principles that make a CAS robust and I would argue the same in light of technology integration efforts.  Over the next few posts, my plan is to tackle each one of these in the context of technology adoption and integration.  I hope you will join me on this journey as I try to make sense of this.

As Reeves, et. al., see it, here are those six principles:

  1. maintain heterogeneity of people, ideas and endeavors
  2. sustain a modular structure
  3. preserve redundancy among components
  4. expect surprise, but reduce uncertainty
  5. create feedback loops and adaptive mechanisms
  6. foster trust and reciprocity in their business ecosystems 

And please, by all means, feel free to challenge me on these ideas – it helps me solidify my own understanding – that’s the point – right?


Life.  (2014, January 19).  Why is Biodiversity Important?  Who cares? – global issues. Retrieved May 9, 2016, from http://www.globalissues.org/article/170/why-is-biodiversity-important-who-cares.

Reeves, M., Levin, S., & Ueda, D. (2016, January 1).  The biology of corporate survival. Retrieved May 9, 2016, from Managing uncertainty, https://hbr.org/2016/01/the-biology-of-corporate-survival.

Science for designers:  Complex Adaptive Systems – Point of View – August 2012. (2012, August 6).  Retrieved May 9, 2016 from http://www.metroplismag.com/Point-of-View/August-2012/Science-for-Designers-Complex-Adaptive-Systems/Retrieved May 9,

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