Adaptive Action: Leveraging Uncertainty in Your Organization

By Glenda H. Eoyang; Royce J. Holladay | Go to book overview

10
WORKING AS A SOCIAL ACT

From our understanding of complex adaptive systems and how they influence people, we observe that individual understanding and emotional states also self-organize. Relationships self-organize between and among individuals. Teams go through many stages as they self-organize. Therapeutic environments self-organize as client and therapist come to know each other and build a productive relationship. Educational programs and the communities that inform them self-organize as information is shared, expanded, and passed on to others in the community. Leadership strategies for individuals and groups self-organize as talk becomes action and brings about change. In all these places and all these ways, Adaptive Action informs the processes and products of emergent change. The three simple Adaptive Action questions establish a rigorous and powerful framework for inquiry that reaches past uncertainty, engages with the real world, and leads to real action. This bottom-up process draws information and energy from the smaller parts of the system to inform the whole and the greater whole.

Our conception of self-organizing systems, however, involves an additional and very powerful set of relationships. Self-organizing processes influence patterns that are both within and beyond the agents of the system at the same time that those same patterns influence action and forces inside and even beyond the immediate system. Individuals, relationships, teams, programs, communities, and strategies all emerge from interactions of their parts. At the same time, they constrain the degree of freedom of the parts and set the conditions for the patterns that emerge within them.

These simultaneous top-down and bottom-up processes are essential to setting conditions for change in a complex adaptive system, but they are difficult to describe in popular language of change. Even before we found ways to describe it, we experienced influence from both directions in every walk of life.

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Adaptive Action: Leveraging Uncertainty in Your Organization
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Part I- What Causes Uncertainty? What Can You Do about It? 1
  • Why So Uncertain? 3
  • 2- What Can You Do? 13
  • 3- What? 34
  • 4- So What? 66
  • 5- Now What? 84
  • 6- Now What? Again 103
  • Part II- So What Does Adaptive Action Look like on the Ground? 111
  • 7- Adaptive Action in Action 113
  • 8- Capacity Building 123
  • 9- Leading Change 146
  • 10- Working as a Social Act 160
  • Part III- Now What Will You Do? 183
  • 11- Gaps Revisited 185
  • 12- Lessons for What? 189
  • 13- Lessons for So What? 200
  • 14- Lessons for Now What? 209
  • 15- Adaptive Innovation 218
  • Reference Matter 239
  • Notes 241
  • Index 245
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