Managing Complex Adaptive Systems

Embed Size (px)


Managing Complex Adaptive Systems. Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Chaos. Self Organizing Groups. Leadership Lessons in Three Minutes. Complex Adaptive Systems. Command and Control vs. Decentralized Management. Management by: . InstructionObjectivesValues. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

Text of Managing Complex Adaptive Systems

Slide 1

Managing Complex Adaptive SystemsOr, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love ChaosPicher Allan Associates LLC1Self Organizing GroupsLeadership Lessons in Three MinutesPicher Allan Associates LLC2SimpleComplicatedComplexBaking a CakeSending a Rocket to the MoonRaising a ChildComplex Adaptive SystemsPicher Allan Associates LLC3Command and Control vs. Decentralized Management

Picher Allan Associates LLC4Management by:


Picher Allan Associates LLC5Why Manage NetworksMost social problems are complexNetworks and Partnerships are necessaryCommand and control doesnt work with networked people and projectsIt doesnt adapt well to changing circumstances and local initiativeDecentralized management allows flexibility and creativityPicher Allan Associates LLC6Hybrid Form of Organization

Hierarchical in some places, chaotic in othersAlways shifting, evolvingMust be stable in spots with closely monitored deliverablesPicher Allan Associates LLC7Leadership in Complex Organizations

Picher Allan Associates LLC8Skills Needed to Manage this Kind of Structure

Influence rather than controlAbility to generate shared valuesBuild relationshipsComfort with a balance of stability and disorderHigh level of autonomyHigh level of responsibilityFreedom to innovate from any part of the network

Picher Allan Associates LLC9Picher Allan Associates LLCIn the Non-profit sector we tend to believe that we measure what we value. But instead we often value only what we can measure.

10Picher Allan Associates LLCNot everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.

-- A sign on the wall of Albert Einsteins office11Intuition Rapid Adaptive Subtle Experiential Resourceful Inexpensive Sensitive Insightful Perceptive to semiconscious & unconscious

Picher Allan Associates LLC12IntuitionUncertainInexactUnprovableUnexplainableUnteachable (?)Conducive to generalization & stereotypesSelf-validatingSometimes (often?) wrong

Picher Allan Associates LLC13Intuition Works Best

To decide what to do when you dont know what to doWhen you have incomplete informationWhen the consequences of being wrong are less than the consequences of not acting while waiting for complete informationWhen rapid decisions are required Picher Allan Associates LLC14And

In highly complex situationsIn rapidly changing circumstancesIn confusing, ambiguous or vague situationsWhen confronting uncertain riskIn the absence of scientific proofWhen cheap, simple solutions are preferred

Picher Allan Associates LLC15Networks Require CommunicationsThe Right Kinds in the Right Amounts

Picher Allan Associates LLC16Principles for Managing Complex Adaptive Systems

Picher Allan Associates LLCFrom Curt Lindberg, VHA, Inc.; Paul Plsek of Paul Plsek & Associates; and Brenda Zimmerman, York University.17Principles for Managing Complex Adaptive Systems1. Complexity lensView your system through the lens of complexity...

rather than the metaphor of a machine or a military organization.

Picher Allan Associates LLC18Principles for Managing Complex Adaptive Systems2. Good enough visionBuild a good enough vision and provide minimum specifications...rather than trying to plan out every little detail.

Picher Allan Associates LLC19Principles for Managing Complex Adaptive Systems3. Clockware/swarmwareWhen 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.

Picher Allan Associates LLC20Principles for Managing Complex Adaptive Systems4. Tune to the edgeFostering the "right" degree of: information flow, diversity and difference, connections inside and outside the organization, power differential, and anxiety...instead of controlling information, forcing agreement, dealing separately with contentious groups, working systematically down all the layers of the hierarchy in sequence, and seeking comfort.

Picher Allan Associates LLC21Principles for Managing Complex Adaptive Systems5. ParadoxUncover and work paradox and tension...rather than shying away from them as if they were unnatural.

Picher Allan Associates LLC22Principles for Managing Complex Adaptive Systems6. Multiple actionsGo for multiple actions at the fringes, let direction arise...rather than believing that you must be "sure before you proceed with anything.

Picher Allan Associates LLC23Principles for Managing Complex Adaptive Systems7. Shadow systemListen to the shadow system..that is, realize that informal relationships, gossip, rumor, and hallway conversations, contribute significantly to agents' mental models and subsequent actions.

Picher Allan Associates LLC24Principles for Managing Complex Adaptive Systems8. ChunkingGrow 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.

Picher Allan Associates LLC25So Whats It All AboutTraditional management methods dont seem to fit well in networksSelf organizing teamsManage by valuesHigh level of communication required to share values and agree on work

Picher Allan Associates LLC26Managing Complex Adaptive SystemsOr, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love ChaosPicher Allan Associates LLCChris Allan, Picher Allan Associates LLCwww.chrisallan.infoChet Tchozewski, chet@tchozewski.com27