Graham Willett was born in Sydney, Australia in 1947. His childhood was spent in the Sydney suburb of Epping and later on a dairy farm in the small community of Jaspers Brush (near Berry) on the picturesque New South Wales south coast. At the age of 17, he moved to Sydney for his tertiary education and has subsequently lived in various parts of Australia during his professional career. Graham moved to Queensland, Australia in 1991, where he still resides.
A graduate of The University of Sydney (BSc – 1967 and MSc – 1978) and Sydney Teachers College (Dip Ed), Graham’s professional career spans over twenty years in the Australian mining industry working as a geoscientist, project manager and company director and a further ten years in the field of higher education.
During his time in the mining industry, Graham worked throughout Australia and overseas on mineral exploration, mineral development projects, commodities marketing and on the development of minerals processing technology. His involvement ranged from the conduct of successful mineral exploration programs to the project management of a $20 million final feasibility study on the Mt Weld development project (Western Australia) involving the mining, downstream processing and marketing of rare earth compounds. The partners in this development project were Mitsui (Japan), Marubeni (Japan) and Carr Boyd Minerals (Australia), with Union Oil (USA) acting as a silent partner.
Throughout his career, Graham has demonstrated ability in the development of conceptual models of mineralisation and was associated with seven mineral discoveries including the aforementioned world-class deposits at MT Weld. He is also the author of a number of scientific papers relating to nickel and rare earth mineralisation. Principal employers included the Belgian company Union Miniere, Union Carbide and Union Oil of California (UNOCAL) from the USA and the Australian companies, Carr Boyd Minerals and Ashton Mining.
Graham’s experience includes corporate strategic planning, setting of corporate policy and management to Board level, recruitment and management of multi-disciplinary technical teams engaged in research & development (R&D), overseeing financial and legal matters relating to major projects and negotiating deals at a national and international level. He has personally visited numerous technology companies in Europe, Japan and the USA in the fields of electronics, glass manufacture, automotive, alloys, ceramics and super-magnet fabrication in his role as Project Manager of the MT Weld development.
Graham is currently proprietor of his own business under contract with the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Brisbane, Australia to market and manage the CEED Program (which places senior undergraduate and post-graduate students onto industry projects for their theses) on behalf of QUT and The University of Queensland. The work involves advising Queensland industry on R&D, setting up contracts and training students in conceptual thinking and project management. He has been with the program since inception (1992) and managed over 240 projects during this period, generating funds of over A$1.7 million from industry to operate the Program.
Since 1996, Graham has also been developing an exciting new scientific theory – The Unifying Theory of Entropy – a theory that recognises the basic coding of nature, which leads to the diversity of all patterns of behaviour observed in the natural world, including human society. Graham formed a private company, Living Business Systems (Aust) Pty Ltd, in early 2000 for the purpose of commercialising the theory.
Background to the Discovery
In 1996, Graham Willett began to take an interest in the field of ‘re-engineering’ of processes for business and manufacturing that had recently emerged from the USA (Hammer and Champy, 1994). These authors suggested methods for analysing business processes and “re-inventing” organisations that achieved, at times, quite spectacular results. The interest in processes was becoming prevalent in the various engineering disciplines taught at local universities and gaining momentum in many of the local industries in SE Queensland, Australia. Willett, in his role as Program Co-ordinator of an industry-based student-training scheme for the two major universities in South-East Queensland (Queensland University of Technology and University of Queensland), evidenced an upsurge in “process-based” student projects. While moving extensively around industry to place students into science and engineering Research & Development projects, he noted the same or similar processes cropping up repeatedly across very diverse settings and industries.
By late 1996 it was becoming obvious to Willett, and many others, that ‘re-engineering’ as a new methodology was experiencing both spectacular successes and flops. Willett observed that the key problem with ‘re-engineering’ and other process-related methodologies was that they lacked a scientific basis of observation and measurement – rather, they had emanated from university business schools. Willett asked himself what constituted a process and what were the rules governing its behaviour? On these points the literature was sparse and inaccurate. It soon became obvious that to understand processes, a new understanding of the science behind processes and their mechanisms for change was required.
Willett’s study of these issues soon ran into significant problems. While Chaos (Complexity) theory described the phenomenon of self-organisation and had produced significant evidence in support of this, the notion of self-organisation ran contrary to the common interpretation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics and of ‘entropy’ (described later). Willett noted that Chaos theory was inadequate in this regard. Until this basic problem was solved, the theory of processes (systems) was going nowhere.
Willett then took a different approach. Having a background as a petrologist, mineralogist and crystallographer, he was fond of classifying things and describing their properties. He began to identify processes according to their fundamental properties and resultant behaviour and noticed that each pattern of behaviour was derived from a distinct geometry of process. At the time this observation appeared interesting, although it was only later that the full significance was apparent. Willett began to derive a set of “rules” that controlled the behaviour of processes. For example, without the ability to add processes sequentially only random events are possible. In this case, the resulting system is deterministic, inflexible and predictable. Such systems could easily be controlled. However, once an iterative process (new rule) was introduced into the system it became adaptable, flexible and less controllable or predictable.
After approximately a year of work, Willett recognised a small number of prime process geometries from which a diverse group of process geometries could be derived. It was observed that the same geometries could be used for both ordering and disordering reactions. Willett surmised that another factor (the role played by entropy) was involved in determining whether a process would be ordering or disordering when changing state. (Note: some scientists still regard entropy as being a measure of disorder and others see it as the dispersion of energy. The latter case is more accurate but still assigns a minor status to the role of entropy in nature, according to Willett).
Willett’s First Breakthrough
On the evening of 17th August 1997, Willett made his first breakthrough. He discovered the hierarchical relationship of some 20 process geometries. New geometries were quickly predicted from the structure that was emerging. By using four basic natural coding units (addition, iteration, replication and response), it was possible to derive a hierarchical structure of new geometries, each level exhibiting increasing complexity and capability of process. It was this structure that scientists worldwide have termed the “mathematical code” that generates the universe, in anticipation of its discovery (refer interview with Stephen Wolfram in ‘New Scientist’, 25 August 2001). The composite pattern that emerged from the work of Willett was one of capability of process. Willett recognised the emerging pattern as the structure controlling evolution.