Tag Archives: management

Strategic Management and Organisational Dynamics

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.stacey-and-mowles


Anxious management

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

Can leaders change organisational culture? – alternatives from a complexity perspective. Complexity and Management Conference June 6-8th, Roffey Park.

Early bird rate ends April 30th 2014.
Orthodox management literature contains many of the same assumptions about organisational culture: that changes in culture can be linked to organisational success and improvement; that culture is a mixture of the tangible (rules, behaviour, rewards) and the intangible (symbols); that culture can exist in an organisation and in sub-units within an organisation; that it can be ‘diagnosed’ and changed, perhaps with an ‘n’ step programme moving from existing to preferred cultures; that it is often precipitated by a leader having an inspiring vision. 
For a discussion of alternatives from a complexity perspective come to the Complexity and Management Conference.
The key note speaker is Professor Ralph Stacey, one of the world’s leading scholars on complexity and management.
There will be lots of opportunity for lively discussion throughout the weekend.
Conference fees include all board and accommodation from 7pm Friday 6th to lunchtime Sunday 8th June. Book here.



Rethinking management – radical insights from the complexity sciences

Anyone who has enjoyed this blog may be interested in reading this book, which has just been published.

To order the book and obtain a 40% author’s discount click on this link, and follow these instructions:

Add the book to your basket by pressing the Add to Basket button.

        * Once you enter the checkout stage you need to enter the discount code: G11FCJ40 in the box marked promotional code in the first step of the Basket

      * Press the Update Basket button and you will see the discount applied to this title in your basket.

        * Proceed through steps 2-4 to confirm your order.

New complexity blog

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.

Are we all complexity theorists now?

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.

Continue reading