New edition published this month: the revised, refreshed and updated version of Ralph’s textbook including sections on process organisation studies, new organisational examples, a bit more theory and more up-to-date references.
I was reminded of the importance of anxiety and the idea of emotional contagion the other day when I sat with a group of not-for-profit trustees who were being given a presentation by an auditor from a big corporate firm of accountants. The auditor had been asked to present on his experience of auditing other not-for-profits to identify what other organisations were concerned about and how they were dealing with it. The trustees saw it as a way of ‘benchmarking’ the field so that they could be reassured that they were focusing on the right things as they undertook their roles and developed a new strategy.
What transpired in the meeting made me think about how certain ideas about leadership and management are spread partly because they have emotional valency, and thus are more likely to be taken up without being challenged. For the presentation was not just an overview of the sector but also carried a strong ideological message wrapped in an anxiety narrative. This was that adopting a particular approach to organisations and management based on an especially dominant orthodoxy is a way of belonging to an in-group in especially turbulent times. To emulate others would mean ameliorating anxiety about not keeping up, not being professional and not being alongside the people who really know. Continue reading
Only one week to go before the close of the early bird rate for this year’s Complexity and Management Conference on organisational culture.
Key note speaker: Prof Ralph Stacey
Good conversation, good food, great venue.
Anyone who has enjoyed this blog may be interested in reading this book, which has just been published.
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A group of colleagues working together on an innovative doctoral programme exploring the complexity sciences in relation to work in organisations have started a new blog at http://www.complexityandmanagement.wordpress.com. Contributors include Ralph Stacey, Doug Griffin, Nick Sarra, Karen Norman, and this blog convenor, Chris Mowles. Join the discussion.
It has become quite commonplace to adduce the complexity sciences in articles and talks about organisational change, although from the way the ideas are set out it is often difficult to know how the particular ‘complexity perspective’ is adding anything to our current ways of understanding management and change. It can taste like the usual meat and two veg, but perhaps with a bit of mustard on the side of the plate.
So, for example, one frequently comes across the idea that we should ’embrace complexity’ or ‘allow emergence to happen’, or even ‘unleash complexity’ in the organisation. There are a number of two by two grids and frameworks which circulate which purport to help managers identify whether the situation they find themselves in is complex, or merely just complicated. If the former then certain tools and strategies should be used, and if the latter then it requires a different set of tools.
Emergence is often described as a good thing, and in contrast too much control a bad thing. However, ‘just allowing things to emerge’ can also be a bad thing, so a manager needs to achieve ‘the right balance’ between allowing emergence to happen, but not too much. Emergence is another tool in the toolbox for a manager to wield when appropriate.