The Interaction of Complexity and Management

By Michael R. Lissack | Go to book overview

24

Reality and Complexity

Tom Petzinger

In this chapter Tom Petzinger argues that complexity theory cannot become a management fad, because it is an antimethodology. Rather than give us prescriptions for how to design the organization of the future, it gives us tools for explaining what already works, championing the creativity of people working together over the design genius of visionary leaders.

The biggest trend of all is that of rethinking the definition of management and the structure of work. Businesses—in fact, organizations of all kinds—are starting to abandon the most timeworn principles of control in favor of a new way: freeing employees to figure out how to get the job done without central planning or control. “Self-organization,” some call it. The new model for organizations is the biological world, where uncontrolled actions produce stunningly efficient and robust results, all through adaptation and self-organization.

Picture it this way. You have a long, heartfelt meeting with your employees and managers. Together you agree on a very broad mission that everyone buys into—nothing unusual there—but then comes the hard part. As employees pursue their daily routines, you encourage them to experiment, to make messes, to seek information and assistance

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