What makes complex systems so difficult to control is that they have a natural tendency to self-organize, driven by the inherent forces between the system components. Self-organization may have favorable results or undesirable ones, depending on the kinds of interactions and institutional settings. But slightly modifying the interactions mechanisms, or interfering in the right moment in a minimally invasive way is able to create desired outcomes. Such “guided self-organization” utilizes the hidden forces acting in complex systems rather than opposing them.
This means that we should implement principles such as distributed bottom-up control and guided self-organization. What are these principles about and how do they work? Self-organization means that the interactions between the components of the system spontaneously lead to a collective, organized and orderly mode of behavior. That does not, however, guarantee that the state of the system is one we might find desirable, and that’s why self-organization may need some “guidance.”