Specifically, mentoring is planned, and its effects are assessed, in accordance with the first principles of survival in changing environments. First principles are fundamental propositions about nature that have been revealed through scientific research. Particularly relevant to startups is the first principle: survival of the fittest. This well-known phrase summarizes that survival is facilitated through adapting in order to be well-fitted with changing environments. The startup fitness method developed and applied in Digilogic is informed by the latest natural science research into how living things adapt in changing environments while maintaining internal stability. In particular, by the latest research in active inference, which involves taking action in the world in order to reduce uncertainty about how to survive.
Eminent neuroscientist Professor Karl Friston, who leads active inference research globally, has been following Digilogic since 2021 https://digilogic.africa/future-proofing-startups/. In April 2023, together with VTT’s Dr Stephen Fox, one of the startups in the Digilogic programme, Mwingi presented Professor Friston with an overview of their operations. Professor Friston noted correspondence between Mwingi’s operations and first principles. For example, Mwingi’s application landscape reduces uncertainty about how to survive in changing environments through iterations of multiple interrelated observations. From his natural science viewpoint, Professor Friston was impressed by Mwingi’s point of sale system. Mwingi’s managing director, Brenda Mideva, and their IT Manager, Brian Wasike, both found his natural science-based observations about Mwingi to be very informative. Overall, Mwingi is an example of how startups can practice informal implicit active inference to survive and grow in changing environments even before they begin to implement formal implicit active inference in methods such as process control charts used in quality management systems.
To provide active inference with a generalizable structure for startups, mentoring in Digilogic is based on deliberative active inference https://digilogic.africa/startup_fitness/, with startup fitness charts that have been developed from detailed analyses of the natural science research https://digilogic.africa/start-up-business-models/. More broadly, first principles analyses reveal startups such as Mwingi to be highly sophisticated biosocial-technical systems, which combine biological and social elements of their operations with selective targeted applications of technologies. This enables them to maintain internal stability while growing in changing environments. In a world where uncertainties are introduced into global logistics unpredictably by extreme weather events and other disruptions emerging from nature, there is much to be learnt from Mwingi and other such startups in Africa.
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