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Leadership and the New Science by Margaret J. Wheatley

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Megan Rich

on 5 April 2015

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Transcript of Leadership and the New Science by Margaret J. Wheatley

The spontaneous process of order arising out an an initially disordered system
Leadership and
the New Science
by Margaret J.

What's 'New Science'?
New scientific insight in understanding how the world works

Advancements in the sciences that can be applied to creating new worldviews
3. The Chaos Theory
The study of dynamic systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions.

Small differences in initial conditions render incredible differences in long-term results.
What Could be a Better Worldview?
Wheatley believes that by looking at the 'New Sciences' we can change our worldview on stability and order

She states that when forced to navigate chaos, people often feel frightened and become very rigid in their beliefs and habits

Instead, she says we should embrace chaos as a necessary part of life
This Text Focuses on Three Areas of Scientific Study:
Physical phenomenon that occur at a very, very small scale
1. Quantum Physics:
2. Self-Organizing Systems
Schools of Fish and Flocks of Birds
The Crystallization of a Super Saturated Solution:
How is a Persons' Worldview Affected by Change?
Wheatley argues that people often struggle to accept the unpredictable nature of change because "our present ways of organizing are outmoded, and that the longer we remain entrenched in our old ways, the further we move from... wonderful breakthroughs in understanding" (pg 5)

She also argues that people should not face problems with the same habit of solutions because the world is not predictable
In a Structured Worldview...
Chaos Causes Confusion...
"We need to abandon our interpretation of what does and doesn't work. We must learn the see the world anew"
-Margaret Wheatley, pg 7
The Machine Imagery: A Current Worldview
This is the belief that studying the parts leads to understanding the whole

It doesn't account for the complexity of relationships

Complex phenomenon are not a result of simple cause and effect

What Does this Have to Do with Leadership?
There is a discrepancy between how people view the function of chaos in life, and how it actually manifests. This discrepancy create dysfunction.
Biological Structures:
the polar and nonpolar sections of the proteins segregate and make organized structures, such as those shown to the right.

Chaos Theory: The Butterfly Affect
What Might This Change Look Like?
Organizations that are "more fluid, organic structures, of boundaryless and seamless organization." (pg 15)

Autonomy for all individuals involved

A focus on relationships

How Would This Affect Motivation?
The motivation theory focuses on individuals' internal drives.

Intrinsic motivations, such as the desire for community, meaning, dignity, purpose, and love, are key
"As we let go of the machine model of organizations, and workers as replaceable cogs in the machinery of production, we begin to see ourselves in much richer dimensions, to appreciate our wholeness, and, hopefully, to design organizations that honor and make use of the great gift of who we humans are."

-Margaret Wheatley, pg 14

Go From This:
To This:
How Does Chaos Fit in?
Chaos is a natural process that breeds new order and growth. As Wheatley states, "The things we fear most in organizations-- disruptions, confusion, chaos-- need not be interpreted as signs that we are about to be destroyed. Instead, these conditions are necessary to awaken creativity." (pg 21)

Leaders of the new order emerge from the group because of the inherent need

Leadership can be thought of as a responsive behavior to a need instead of as a role
Anybody Can be the Leader
"If we believe that responsible leaders must have their hand in everything, controlling every decision, person, and moment, then we cannot hope for anything except what we already have-- a treadmill of frantic efforts that end up destroying our individual and collective vitality."
--Maragret Wheatley, pg 25
Additional Resources:
Let Go and Lead:
A clip discussing the idea of 'command and control'

Leaders often choose to have control/power over effectiveness

Wheatley discusses how self-managing teams allow people to feel like they have a greater sense of control and responsibility, which increases the degree of productivity

Chaos Theory in Boys Education
Traditionally, a good classroom is described as one that has order, structure, and incentives. Will Mose, a history teacher, argues that this system is not function for students. He focuses on how boys experience the education system, and how they could be better served utilizing the chaos theory.
Work Cited:
Wheatley, Margaret J. "Prologue and Chapters 1-2." Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 1999. N. pag. Print.
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