Command and control to complexity theory (Part 2)

In the aftermath of the 9/11 atrocity, once it became clear that the perpetrators were using hijacked aeroplanes to attack buildings, it became a matter of national security to have every plane in US airspace land at the nearest airport. However, no procedure or process existed to permit this to happen. Researchers, eager to devise […]

Effective relationships build success in the future

It is hardly a secret that effective relationships are any business’s greatest asset. Few would dispute this proposition, yet just as few act upon it. In too many cases, the business environment either fails to encourage the relationships that will help the company grow, or it is actively toxic towards them, destroying trust, increasing risk […]

Harnessing the infinite: from command and control to complexity theory

Human teams are enigmatic entities: they collaborate on shared aims and goals at one level, and randomly reshape or reform those very aims and goals at another. Welcome to complexity theory. For managers, this can be something of a headache. Getting a project wrapped up on time and on budget appears to require disciplined oversight […]

Management, uncertainty and complexity (Part Two)

In the past, some command-and-control managers viewed human organisations as machines. Those ‘machines’ would function with predictable outcomes when operated correctly. Nowadays, managers that embrace complexity theory adopt a radically different model: human organisations, including businesses, are regarded as being more like living organisms. They interact with their environments constantly adapting to changing circumstances. Complex […]

Management, uncertainty and complexity (Part One)

In the 1990s, when academics and business leaders first began discussing the idea of applying complexity science to organisations and businesses, their enthusiasm failed to be picked up by the majority of managers. Managers were resistant to seeing the world as it really was (i.e. infinitely complex), preferring instead to wish this issue away in order […]

Organisational development: working with complexity and the unexpected

Organisational Development (OD) aims at healthy organisational change through harnessing a common value base and collaborative inquiry. In reality, however, organisational life, and change, turns out to be a lot messier and a lot more unpredictable. A traditional model would see the process of OD like this: an OD consultant meets and gains entry to […]