Complex Systems, Complexity, Chaos Theory,Complex Adaptive Systems,Complexity and Strategy,Organisational Change,Self Organisation,Complex Systems and Knowledge Creation,Brain,Mind,Complex Systems Resources,Complexity and Chaos Resources,Organisational Form, Complexity Theory,Consultancy

Introduction

Apologies for the long delay since the last newsletter but I have been really busy and that includes updating our website.

We have set up a completely new section of our site that relates to the general consultancy side of our business trojantactics. This has also entailed transferring a few items from the existing site to the new one. We have also taken the opportunity to overhaul our existing complexity site. The new items are:

  • In the articles section a list of links to articles on the web
  • Some new slides in that section
  • In the other resources section:
    • Some more links
    • Some new stories
    • New sections on:
      • Newsletters
      • Conversation Cafes
      • Complexity in Practice

There are still one or two items left to do ~ but hopefully they will be up and running by the time you receive this.

Quotes (thanks mainly to Dave Gurteen)

"The kind of conversation I like is one in which you are prepared to emerge a slightly different person."
*** Theodore Zeldin Historian & Author ***

“Wealth is created not by protecting the known but by imperfectly seizing the unknown”
*** Origin unknown***

"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn."
*** Alvin Toffler ***

"There are three constants in life - change, choice and principles."
*** Stephen R. Covey Author & Consultant ***

"All invention and progress comes from finding a link between two ideas that have never met."
*** Theodore Zeldin Historian & Author ***

Sites

I have featured contributions in previous newsletters from David Norman. He now has a web site: http://www.leadershipdynamix.com/

I use fractals as an organisational metaphor. All employees of an organisation should be a fractal, whereby each individual contains the pattern of the whole without being the same as the whole. This metaphor allows for the constant changing of the pattern, ensures that individuals are consistent with the purpose and direction of the organisation but does not mean that everyone has to be the same - hence providing for the necessary internal variety. Here is an interesting site by Jules Ruis on fractals: http://www.fractal.org/

Theodore Zeldin has developed the Oxford Muse which is a new Foundation developing more inspiring ways of working, of understanding others and being understood by them, of widening one's horizons, one's contacts and one's potential.

http://www.oxfordmuse.com/index.htm

I have featured the topic of Spiral Dynamics several teams. Keith Rice’s new site contains many resources on this topic. http://www.keitherice.co.uk/

Feedback

I have received this question from Paul Jacobson

“Yesterday, my wife, Ali, started an animated discussion on whether organisations achieve consciousness. Gregory Bateson, Chris Argyris and Max Miller identified supra-individual conditions where organisational learning takes place; where a social Mind develops. But consciousness? Human beings individually, exhibit partial consciousness; and have a devil of a time maintaining even that degree of self-awareness. In fact, after we gain conscious competence in a skill (for instance) our minds submerge much of the learning to let us act with unconscious competence (Dreyfus and Dreyfus 1984).

Consciousness can establish a link between the world of automatic regulation and the world of imagination. Consciousness is valuable because it centers knowledge on the life of an individual organism. Consciousness is good for extending the mind's reach and in so doing, improving the life of the organism whose mind has that higher reach. Even so, for a million years or more, humans have had adequate regulation of life, achieved without conscious processing; so that skills were automated and preferences enacted without the influence of a knowing Self.

I would really like to read your comments on this topic; and to learn of other people's experience in organisations where there was a "glimmer" of consciousness.”

My reply was:

You ask an interesting question about organisations having consciousness. I believe that organisations have an identity and a sense of oneness, or even some sort of soul, which is formed from its members but also independent of its members. However I would not say that it was conscious. It does not need to be conscious in order to adapt or learn (as in bee swarms or termite mounds). Indeed I would suggest that many people are not really conscious. I will put your question in my next newsletter to see what others think.

Any views would be most welcome. 

Appreciative Enquiry (AI)

Below are some resources on this topic

Beyond problem analysis: Using appreciative inquiry to design and deliver environmental, gender equity and private sector development projects:

http://www.iisd.org/ai/myrada.htm

An interesting introduction on how AI was applied in industry can be found at:

http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item.jhtml?id=3684&t=innovation

("The Art of Appreciative Inquiry")

A good introduction on AI (PDF file) can be found under the title "Locating the Energy for Change" at:

http://www.iisd.org/pdf/appreciativeinquiry.pdf

A successful model of applying AI in an urban city has been set by the Imagine Chicago Project. Find more information at: http://www.imaginechicago.org.

Newsletters

An interesting newsletter is produced by John Seddon; he can be a bit belligerent but has some interesting points to make. http://www.lean-service.com/home.asp

Back copies can be obtained at: http://www.lean-service.com/6-news-0.asp

Below is an extract from Sarah Lewis Newsletter “Gemstone Tidbits”.

www.jemstoneconsultancy.co.uk

Postmodernism theory has basis in brain physiology

In brief postmodernism suggests that many ‘true’ accounts can exist of the same data. For organisational consultancy this suggests that the pursuit of ‘one true account’ experienced by all may be a lost cause, rather the challenge is to mediate with many realities e.g. to achieve organisation through social communication and relationship.

Examining the state of knowledge about brain physiology, Carter makes the following points that, seem to me, to suggest a physiological basis for postmodernist philosophy.

‘Thanks to the infinitely complex interplay of nature and nurture no two brains are ever exactly the same.’

‘By the time we are adult our mental landscapes are so individual that no two of us will see anything quite the same way’

‘The sight of an external object will vary from person to person because no two people have precisely the same number of motion cells’

‘There is no definitive picture of ‘out there’ only a construction in our heads triggered by the external stimuli we are best equipped to register’

‘The meaning is different for every person because it depends on their past experience’

‘…we see that our actions follow from our perceptions and our perceptions are created by brain activity’

In other words, everyone will make sense of the same thing differently, we can’t help it, the challenge is to create sufficient coherence that we can more forward in a co-ordinated way.

Stories

Stephen Denning has a new site on storytelling:

http://www.stevedenning.com/squirrel.htm

Articles

Paul Jacobson in Australia has brought to my attention a pamphlet produced by the Demos think tank about using trojan thinking ideas for improving the British public sector. It is a little long but well worth a read for those who are interested. It can be downloaded via this link:

http://www.demos.co.uk/catalogue/systemfailure2/

Conferences

1) Is the World of the 21st Century So Complex That We Can No Longer “Manage” and Can Only “Muddle Through”? Has our twenty-first century world – a world of unprecedented scientific advances, the Internet, and a permanent information revolution yet beset by corporate ethics scandals, terrorism, and global conflict – become so complex that only portions of it can be “managed”? Or are we soon to be forced to admit that all we can do is “muddle through”?

September 18-19, 2004 ~ The George Washington University, Washington, DC

Barbara Mueller

Executive Director

ECHO Conferences

Emergence and Complexity in Human Organizations

2338 Immokalee Rd #109

Naples FL 34110

phone 239-597-7001 fax 813-436-5154

http://www.echo-conferences.com

2) Enlightenment events with Andrew Cohen:

http://www.andrewcohen.org/centers/london_ongoing_events.asp

3) Organisations, Innovation and Complexity: New Perspectives on the Knowledge Economy

University of Manchester
9-10th September 2004

The conference is organised jointly by the ESRC NEXSUS Network, Cranfield University and the ESRC Centre for Research in Innovation and Competition, University of Manchester. It will be held at the Dalton Ellis Hall, University of Manchester.

Conference Aims

The Purpose of the conference is to explore the concept of the knowledge economy from a complexity perspective, with a particular emphasis on the emergence of innovation and the self-organisation and self-transformation of economic systems. The broad themes will include Conceptual thinking; Modelling/Simulation and Empirical/Case Studies.

For more information contact:
Rosemary Cockfield, rosemary.cockfield@cranfield.ac.uk
Complex Systems Research Centre,
Cranfield University,
Bedford, MK43 OAL, Tel: 01234 754801

And finally ~ lets have some fun

On my new site you will find a Random Jargon Generator, which is just a bit of fun.

http://www.trojanmice.com/trojantactics/jargon.htm

Also in this vein is Business Buzzword Bingo: http://isd.usc.edu/~karl/Bingo/

Best wishes

Peter.