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April 27, 2002

Complexity in the workplace

Here's a pointer to '97 article on making use of complexity in the workplace.  I'm not sure I believe it all, but it's worthwhile thinking material.  For that matter, I think almost any theories you come up with about how people work together can be best regarded as heurustics

From Paul Plsek with hyperlinks to the full text on his web site:

Some emerging principles of complexity

  1. View your system through the lens of complexity (rather than the metaphor of a machine or a military organization).
  2. Build a good enough vision (rather than trying to plan out every little detail).
  3. When life is far from certain, lead from the edge, with clockware and swarmware in tandem (that is, balance data and intuition, planning and acting, safety and risk, giving due honor to each).
  4. Tune your place to the "edge of chaos" by fostering the "right" level or degree of: information flow, diversity and difference, connection among agents, power differential, and anxiety (instead of controlling information, forcing agreement, dealing separately with contentious groups, working systematically down all the layers of the heirarchy in sequence, and seeking comfort).
  5. Uncover and work paradox and tension (rather than shying away from them as if they were unnatural).
  6. Go for multiple actions at the fringes, let direction arise (rather than believing that you must be "sure" before you proceed with anything).
  7. Create strategy and new sources of value through generative relations (you can never tell what will happen when agents come together).
  8. Listen to the shadow system (that is, realize that informal relationships, gossip, rumor, and hallway conversations contribute significantly to agents' mental models and subsequent actions).
  9. Grow complex systems by chunking (that is, allow complex systems to emerge out of the links among simple systems that work well and are capable of operating independently).
  10. Nice, forgiving, tough, and clear guys finish first (that is, balance cooperation and competition via the tit-for-tat strategy).
  11. Build a space-a community-to convey, concentrate, create and learn together (rather than always being a lone ranger).
- goto
Posted by marpie1@home.com on 6/5/01; 5:11:58 AM from the Complexity (CAS) dept.