Organize for Complexity

June 20, 2013 1 Comment

Organize for Complexity, part II (BetaCodex13) from Niels Pflaeging

Thanks to Harold Jarche for turning me on to this beta codex network presentation about seeing and designing organizations as networks.  It captures much of the learning that has been coming out of our work at IISC with different kinds and scales of networks for social change.  Below is a list of ten key points from the presentation:

  1. A smarter and more useful way to look at organizations is to see them as a network. This is not only more aligned with science than the mechanistic “pyramid” dogma, but it is also by far closer to reality.
  2. Organizational robustness comes from the quality and quantity of the interconnections between humans and teams – not from rules, bosses, or standards.
  3. In dynamic systems, the way out of the control dilemma is through decentralization, or devolution, of decision-making, which becomes far more effective. This way, decisions are taken where interaction with and learning from the market occurs.
  4. A network gains stability and resilience not through hierarchical power relationships, but through the “pull” that comes from the external market [larger system], and from the complex human relationships it nourishes internally.
  5. In a decentralized network structure, “positions” cease to exist. “Roles” rule. Individuals usually are not confined to one network cell alone, but will act in different cells, filling in different roles in different parts of the network.
  6. A network can create and should create conditions for self-development, and it can also take care that leaders get out of the way by not trying to control or contain self-development.
  7. Cultivate principles, not rules.
  8. Leadership has to be work focused on improving the system, on making the larger system palpable inside the organization through transparency and dialogue, and on allowing for self-organization and social pressure to function.
  9. Work on the system, not the people.
  10. Let purpose drive behavior, not numbers or manipulative and controlling processes.

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