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Category: Posted: June 26, 2012 0 comments

It is often said that the transformation to become a social business means enabling activities like transparent action and cooperation instead of the competitive individualism we are so used to.

Management buy-in is also seen as a challenge that needs to be tackled. But can it be that the real challenge is not the ROI of the new tools or learning new ways of doing things, but acknowledging that there is a need for rethinking what management is and refreshing the theories it is built on .

The way business thinking sees the self and its relationships is based on the Cartesian philosophy; I think, therefore I am. Everything in management and thus also in mainstream social business takes place from the first-person point of view.

This Cartesian isolation was strengthened in Newton’s...  Read the article
Category: Posted: April 16, 2012 0 comments

In a typical large organization everybody is a long way away from everybody else. As a result the individual perception of the world is narrow and confined to a small group of immediate acquaintances.

That did not matter in factory type of settings because physical tasks could be broken up. Bigger tasks could be divided by assigning people to different smaller, fairly independent parts of the whole. Hierarchies made sense as a way to modularize work. The worker did not need to communicate with many people. The downside was lack of flexibility. Reconfiguring a hierarchy always created a mess for a long time. And if you had a lot of interaction going on in a ...  Read the article
Category: Posted: April 10, 2012 0 comments

One of the basic ideas of modern science is that the laws of the material universe can only be meaningfully understood by expressing quantified measurements. Numerical terms are needed, not just words and stories. Instead of ordinary sentences we must use mathematical equations, was the belief.

The values of the measurements at a given starting time are called initial conditions for that system. The Newtonian, deterministic claim is that for any given system, the same initial conditions will always produce identically the same outcome. Life is like a movie that can be run forwards or backwards in time. ...  Read the article
Category: Posted: March 27, 2012 0 comments

The mainstream ways of thinking about management are based on the sciences of certainty. The whole system of strategic choice, goal setting and choosing actions to reach the given goals in a controlled way depends on predictability. The problem is that this familiar causal foundation cannot explain the reality we face. Almost daily, we experience the inability of people to choose what happens in their organizations – or in their countries. We live in a complex world. Things may appear orderly over time, but are inherently unpredictable.

Complexity refers to a pattern, a movement in time that is at the same time predictable and unpredictable, knowable and unknowable.  Healthy, ordinary, everyday life is always complex, no matter what the situation is.  There is ...  Read the article
Category: Posted: December 12, 2011 0 comments
In our view of the world, we often think that competition creates and secures efficiency. But it may be that high performance is incorrectly attributed to competition and is more a result of diversity, self-organizing communication and non-competitive processes of cooperation. Competitive processes lead to the handicapping of the higher-level system that these processes are part of. This is because competitive selection leads to exclusion: something is left outside. Leaving something out means a reduction of diversity. The resulting less diverse system is efficient in the very short term, but always at the expense of... Read the article
Category: Posted: November 27, 2011 0 comments

Cathy N. Davidson has studied the way we make sense and think. Her claim is that we often end up in problems when we tackle important issues together. This happens “not because the other side is wrong but because both sides are right in what they see, but neither can see what the other does”. In normal daily conditions, it may be that we don’t even know that other perspectives exist outside of our own. We believe we see the whole picture from our point of view and have all the facts. Focus however means selection and selection means blind spots leading to (attention) blindness. We have a partial view that we take as the full picture.

This is one of the reasons why people in companies are often stuck in narrow, repetitive and negative patterns that provide them with... Read the article
Category: Posted: November 22, 2011 0 comments

“In the future, when the history of our time will be written from a long-term perspective, it may be that the most important things historians will see are not technological advancements or the Internet, but the fact that for the first time a substantial and rapidly growing number of people had choices.” (Peter Drucker)

The industrial age was about limiting the scope of choices. This was accepted since the need to gather costly information and to communicate with low quality tools were minimized. Furthermore, by narrowing the scope of decision-making and action, the learning requirements for workers and customers were... Read the article
Category: Posted: November 16, 2011 0 comments

Technology does not determine social and organizational change, but it does create new opportunity spaces for social innovations like new employment forms. Partial employment for young unemployed people is becoming much easier than before, and truly global task-based work is becoming possible, perhaps for the first time in history.

The opportunity today is in new relational forms that don’t mimic the governance models of industrial, hierarchical firms. We are already witnessing the rise of very large-scale efforts that create tremendous value in a very new way. Coordinated value in the cases of helping Haiti or building Wikipedia type of platforms is the result of uncoordinated actions by a... Read the article
Category: Posted: November 05, 2011 0 comments
The approaches of industrial management have given us remarkable material well-being over the last few centuries, but are increasingly being criticized for not being suited to handling the needs of today. Organizations need to excel in innovation. Companies also need to embrace rapid change and uncertainty. Some of the most creative ones have even gone so far as to take a “let’s just do cool things and see what happens” approach, trying to avoid traditional governance systems. Is this yet another sign that... Read the article
Category: Posted: October 13, 2011 0 comments
Almost all leadership concepts start with the assumption that a key role for the leader is to set a direction. This usually means designing and communicating a vision and a set of goals. Traditionally, the roles of vision and goals have been there to help people to understand the direction of the enterprise and how they can contribute to it.

Today we need something more.

We need to define what binds individuals together. Separate individuals connecting with the vision may not be enough if people don’t connect with one another. What we are striving to do is not enough if there is no discussion about who we are, and why we do the things we do. We cannot talk about an organization of people without... Read the article