The mechanisms of evolution are the same whether the subject of evolution is a life form or the elements of an economy. These mechanisms - copy; differentiate; select; and amplify; repeated over many iterations - occur in all instances of evolution. Beinhocker demonstrates that the process by which "Physical Technology" and "Social Technology" have developed in the history of human economic activity is evolution. It's not just like evolution, it actually is evolution, with similar characteristics advantages and drawbacks that arise from it.
Here is Beinhocker's summary of the characteristics of adaptive organisations that can survive in today's markets:
- Performance norms
- Performance orientation – people go the extra mile, continuous improvement expected
- Honesty – people are honest, transparent and face reality
- Meritocracy – rewards are set on the basis of merit
- Cooperating norms
- Mutual trust – trusting and trustworthy
- Reciprocity – the golden rule
- Shared purpose – common goals above personal
- Innovating norms
- Non-hierarchical – quality of the idea over status of proposer
- Openness – curious, outside thinking, experiment, seek the best
- Fact-based – facts rather than opinions ultimately count
- Challenge – competitive urgency, race with no finish line
It is no coincidence that agile values match those of adaptive organisations. Agile methods recognise evolution as the key mechanism at work in improving products and improving processes. Kanban as defined in +David Anderson's Blue Book explicitly calls out evolution as the mechanism of change in its principles. Furthermore it has made the key leap beyond earlier agile methods that proposed a static Social Technology to implement evolving Physical Technologies (i.e. the use of a pre-defined process). Kanban applies evolution to the Social Technology itself. Kanban in that sense is a meta-process, a means to keep organisations in Beinhocker's "fit" state by evolving the processes it uses. In my view this makes it important for all agile teams to understand, whatever label they apply to their own current process.
The way you yourself change is at least as important as the way you change the things you are producing.