flowing motion

Posts Tagged ‘self-organization

Emergence

I am tidying up and I glanced through a notebook from 2 years ago. I was utterly fascinated by ‘emergence’, the phenomenon where a flock of birds, for example, emerges from simple behaviour of birds.   With three very simple rules – join the flock, keep up and keep a respectable “stopping distance” – birds individually, and probably without thought, create a flock that looks as if someone did think it up.

Emergence, business & management

We are fascinated with “emergence” in a business context because a naturally-forming flock undermines the idea of the all knowing and ominiscent leader.  The planning, leading, organizing & controlling management theory of Fayol goes ‘for a loop’.

At first, I was puzzled that university departments hadn’t taken up this idea more vigorouosly, and more practically.

Including emergence in the theory of management

Two years on, I’ve found my thinking has drifted.  Yes, it is certainly true that the role of managers is probably exaggerated (with their pay).  But the project of changing management is unnecessary.  Overmanaged firms will self-destruct, possibly at great cost to themselves and others, simply because managers have to be paid for and management that is not necessary simply makes a firm unweildy, inefficient and unprofitable.

The real issue is where our better understanding of organization is emerging in business.  The best example that is written up is the motorcycle industry of China. The best example where an industry is trying to use similar processes is the aerospace industry in UK and the production of the Boeing 787.

Moving along to understanding emergence in business

The challenge now is to understand the variations of self-organizing networks.

I think, perhaps, the basic principle is that emergence, by definition, is not willed.

  • We can prevent it happening.
  • We can illustrate the principle.

But in real life, the probably the best we can do is create conditions for it to happen.  What are those conditions?

Enhanced by Zemanta
Phoenix de Julia

So what does fractal mean in plain language?

In the social professions that are my milieu – psychology, HR, workplaces – fractal means “walking the talk”. It means using the working procedures you would like to see in an organization to bring those working practices about.

It means delivering democracy through democratic means.

It means having the same pattern of organization throughout the organization.

I attended the Bucks08 Social Media Camp

at Bucks New University in High Wycombe on Saturday 17 May 2008. It was organized by Chris Hambly and kindly hosted by Bucks.

It was an unconference. It is free, and registration is simple on an open wiki. Any one who wants to present, signs up in the room and time slot of their choice. It is gently organized with people changing rooms on the hour as they wish.

Around 60 people converged from as far afield as Brighton, Leicester, Nottingham and Sweden (yes, it was international with people from at least 7 countries there). Personally, I went to sessions on

How was this fractal?

Social media capitalizes on self-organization. We provide a framework where people can “read and write”. Social media is a framework in which the audience has a voice.

An unconference is minimally structured and, far from being disorganized, captures the energy of people with a purpose. So it is fractal in the subject matter is participation and the method of organizing is participative.

And then it becomes fractal again, because participants leave and blog about the conference on their own initiative and using their own resources. Before I had got home, a High Wycombe website designer, Paul Imre, had written up the session on metrics. Dan Thornton wrote up his take on social metrics with a parallel on reflecting on your marriage. Michael Clarke provided a running blog on the same session with comments on the whole day.

And it becomes fractal again, in that Dan & Paul summarized the discussion with the metaphors of marriages and  “investing in a dam” to build and release potential.  Dan’s metaphor was about managing social media.  Paul was talking about deciding how much to invest in social media.  In so doing, they effectively advanced the discussion and took it to another level. Within the afternoon, several people had replied, continuing the engagement, which I suspect will continue in other forums too.

Bucks New University must be very proud. They would have been happy, I am sure, with a smoothly organized event. This was so much more: it illustrated the power of social media, it supported a community of practice, it engaged new people, it generated new material.

To use Paul’s metaphor, investment that increases potential and to use Dan’s, when we enjoy ourselves, we come back for more!

PS The next media camp is at SAE in London on 5 July 2008.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Oh! I do like this expression. How do we solve large problems or answer large questions? Break the question into as many small questions as we can.

And if we are group or a family, do the same thing. Brainstorm the question and ask everyone to contribute, “two or three (neither more or less) specific things” about how they will be affected by the big question.

Bang on time – this will be useful this weekend!

UPDATE:  Bang on time again.  This is an important hack to add to a manager’s quiver.  2 or 3 specific things (neither more or less) about how they will be affected by the big question!!

Are you wise, sometimes?

Have you ever kicked yourself for making a dumb decision?  Have you ever sat there thinking, why did I do that?

Turn on your wisdom

There is a way to turn on wisdom.  Peter K Webbs describes the research evidence for promoting wisdom.

#1  Talk a decision over with someone else.  They don’t give you answers.  The talking brings a wider range of facts and figures to your conscious decision making processes.

#2 Go on a cloud journey.  Imagine traveling around the world.  Think of different places and cultures.  Then make you decision! This is Staudinger’s and Baltes (1996) ‘cloud’ journey.

Complexity in organizatons

Peter K Webbs summarized complexity theory in organizations and psycholoogy very well.

For a poetic account, read Paolo Coelho, The Warrior of Light & Strategy.  I particular like the ideas of accepting defeat as what they it is: defeat.  I like the idea of preparing to fight by imagining fighting oneself.  I like the idea that friends remain with you through good and bad times.  They share the journey and the ups-and-downs of the journey.


AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Categories

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Last Twitter

Creative Commons License
All work on this blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.