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Organize with Chaos


Joseph Roevens Ph.D

on 29 March 2010

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Transcript of Organize with Chaos

Chaos theory contends that complex and unpredictable results occur in systems that are sensitive to small changes in their initial conditions. This small changes effect is commonly known as the "Butterfly Effect" which states that the flapping of a butterfly's wings in the Amazon could cause tiny atmospheric changes which over a certain time period could effect weather patterns in New York. Such systems are known as chaotic systems.
Learn how Jack Stack and his fellow employees transformed a failing division of International Harvester into one of the most successful and competitive companies in America using the principles of Open-Book Management.
“...the basic laws of nature as formulated by Newton...describe a timeless, deterministic universe... In recent years we have witnessed a radical change in perspective. On all levels from cosmology to biology, we discover instabilities, and fluctuations, which lead to evolutionary patterns...We obviously need a different formulation of physics which includes instability and chaos and is in agreement with the evolutionary world in which we are embedded.”
Ilya Prigogine, “The End of Certainty”, 1997, pi.
So much traditional management thinking, particularly the need to over-control, is obsolete for today's volatile business conditions.
Rob Kuijpers, then CEO DHL Europe & Africa: clean sheet to test existing assumptions and practices of management & organisation.
In modern science, as well as in business, the days of predictability and certainty are over.
Although chaotic systems appear to be random, they are not. Beneath the random behavior patterns emerge, suggesting, if not always revealing, order.

These patterns are observed everywhere in nature such as milk in coffee, the face of a sunflower, nautilus shell, your fingerprints, our DNA, and the shape of the Milky Way.
Linear machine models of organisations which have been successfully used in management for decades, don’t work where large scale changes are involved.
They were actually designed to control and resist chaos, at a time when the world markets were in the protective hands of a few big players.
The technical capability to share information at all levels is driving all of us out of our own specialised fields, status positions and former roles in business today.
This book looks at change from a Senior Executive's Perspective.
… what executives should not do if they seriously wish to empower their people to self-organise and to take active control of their individual and collective destiny.

… looked into Biology and Paleo-Anthropology, and asked the question:
“How do natural life forms spontaneously change and adapt?”
This is what happens in such un-managed cases:
Something major changes in the environment. The old ways stop working.

Confusion reigns and individual variations and mutations are pragmatically tested.

Small adaptive differences and luck favors the survival of some new types.

These surviving differences act across populations, reproducing a new breed or species.
Enhance - Environmental change-pressure is detected, and felt.

Perturb - Existing routines fail, and diverge into creative turbulence and chaos.

Attract - Fresh diversity emerges; a few feeble sensitivities’ survive and grow.

Excite - Synergy and clusters converge to shape an effective new ‘critical mass’.
Complete lens’ was ‘bench tested’ with variety of practising Executives, ranging from HRM to CEO since first edition.
Aspects of lens have been successfully applied in various organisational settings: small to medium-sized corporations, MBA educational processes. So far, most of the people who “get it” tell us that it does simplify things and makes practical sense.
Insights and metaphors have been incorporated from modern Physics, Biology, World Philosophy and the new Psychologies of Choice, Entrepreneurship and Healing, because that’s where the process of change is best understood today.

A list of possible steps to ENHANCE the change:

1. Secure your own power base and mandate
2. Fix Strategic Change Ambassadors’ rewards for team cooperation and overall company performance
3. Map and select suitable Strategic Change Ambassadors
4. Bring them together as a Strategic Change Team and shape a collective vision.
5. They then:
+ Target 3 - 5 specific things to change: start doing, stop doing, and welcome to happen spontaneously
+ Create a Change-Budget. Allocate enough Time, Space and Resources.
+ Change the down line reward system to favour entrepreneurship, horizontal cooperation and customer appreciation.
+ Simplify key measures and encourage the free flow of information.
+ Call regular public meetings.
+ Build a critical up line feedback loop (e.g. e-mail), act fast on good suggestions.
+ Question all assumptions and encourage some experiments.
+ Raise Customer, Supplier, and Competitor awareness
+ Get down line help - Each Strategic Leader seeds an Operational Change Team
+ Deal – Deadline – Deliver. Ask: “What do we need to do? Who will do it? When will it be done? How can we measure what was done? How can we reward it?”

Organize with Chaos
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