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Margaret J. Wheatley: The Irresistible Future of Organizing
"Why do so many people in organizations feel discouraged and fearful about the future? Why does despair only increase as the fads fly by, shorter in duration, more costly in each attempt to improve? Why have the best efforts to create significant and enduring organizational change resulted in so many failures? We, and our organizations, exist in a world of constant evolutionary activity. Why is change so unnatural in human organizations?

The accumulating failures at organizational change can be traced to a fundamental but mistaken assumption that organizations are machines. Organizations-as-machines is a 17th century notion, from a time when philosophers began to describe the universe as a great clock. Our modern belief in prediction and control originated in these clockwork images. Cause and effect were simple relationships.   Everything could be known.  Organizations and people could be engineered into efficient solutions. Three hundred years later, we still search for "tools and techniques" and "change levers"; we attempt to "drive" change through our organizations; we want to "build" solutions and "reengineer" for peak efficiencies.

But why would we want an organization to behave like a machine? Machines have no intelligence; they follow the instructions given to them. They only work in the specific conditions predicted by their engineers. Changes in their environment wreak havoc because they have no capacity to adapt.

These days, a different ideal for organizations is surfacing. We want organizations to be adaptive, flexible, self-renewing, resilient, learning, intelligent-attributes found only in living systems. The tension of our times is that we want our organizations to behave as living systems, but we only know how to treat them as machines.



This faith in the organization's ability and intelligence will be sorely tested. When there are failures, pressures from the outside, or employee problems, it is easy to retreat to more traditional structures and solutions. As one manager describes it: "When things aren't going well, we've had to resist the temptation to fall back to the perceived safety of our old, rigid structures. But we know that the growth, the creativity, the opening up, the energy improves only if we hold ourselves at the edge of chaos."

The path of self-organization offers ample tests for leaders to discover how much they really trust their employees. Can employees make wise decisions? Can they deal with sensitive information? Can they talk to the community or government regulators? Employees earn trust, but leaders create the circumstances in which such trust can be earned.

Because dependency runs so deep in most organizations these days, employees often have to be encouraged to exercise initiative and explore new areas of competence. Not only do leaders have to let go and watch as employees figure out their own solutions, they also have to shore up their self-confidence and encourage them to do more. And leaders need to refrain from taking credit for their employees' good work-not always an easy task.

While self-organization calls us to very different ideas and forms of organizing, how else can we create the resilient, intelligent, fast, and flexible organizations that we require? How else can we succeed in organizing in the accelerating pace of our times except by realizing that organizations are living systems? This is not an easy shift, changing one's model of the way the world organizes. It is work that will occupy most of us for the rest of our careers. But the future pulls us toward these new understandings with an insistent and compelling call."

[via: https://twitter.com/JosieHolford/status/394627503668461568 ]
systems  systemsthinking  margaretwheatley  myronkellner-rogers  1996  organzations  management  humans  humanism  machines  modernism  organizing  resistance  self-organization  administration  leadership  structure  dependency  initiative  competency  rigidity  livingsystems  life  rules 
october 2013 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: If you say "scale up," you don't understand humanity
"The trick to sharing "best practices" is to stop doing that. Instead, share "our practices" and let ideas meet, collide, mix, and take root differently in each place. The trick to "scaling up" is the same - stop trying. If BMW has to "Americanize" their cars in order to sell them in the United States (adding cup holders, etc), what makes people like Intel or the KIPP or TFA foundations so arrogant as to imagine that they can replicate themselves among vastly different communities?

Instead we imagine, attempt, describe, converse. We pass along concepts, not plans. We share observations, not blueprints. We accept that whether it is a child or a school, we can not evaluate anything with a checklist or a score, but only with very human description.

That's a less rational world which requires more humane effort, and it contains troubling mountains and deep valleys because it is not flat. But it is the world in which we actually live."
heartofdarkness  wine  diversity  differences  norming  norms  standardization  rttt  nclb  arneduncan  benjamindistraeli  williamgladstone  cottonmather  hybridization  worldisflat  universaldesign  scalingup  scalingacross  germany  france  uk  us  americanization  localism  local  teaching  learning  unschooling  deschooling  comparativeeducation  blueprints  society  americanexceptionalism  exceptionalism  reform  britisshemprire  thomasfriedman  assimiliation  cooexistence  frenchcolonialism  terroir  deborahfrieze  margaretwheatley  anglocentrism  decolonization  colonization  humanscale  human  scaling  scale  education  schools  2012  irasocol 
february 2012 by robertogreco
The Thought Leader Interview: Meg Wheatley
"Good leadership can be found in pockets within any large organization. I’ve dubbed them islands of possibility in some of my past work. The leaders of these pockets routinely meet goals, motivate employees, and achieve high levels of safety and productivity. But, ironically, they never change the behavior of the majority of the organization — even though these few islands reach or exceed the goals set by senior management. There’s a lot of evidence that innovators get pushed to the margins. You’d expect that they would be rewarded, promoted, and given the responsibility of teaching everyone else how to do the same. But instead, they’re ignored or invisible…"
hierarchy  hierarchy  deschooling  unschooling  margaretwheatley  education  learning  organizations  management  administration  leadership  innovation  cv  tcsnmy  lcproject  networks  motivation  fear  values  meaning  purpose  2011  community  sharedvalues  vision  inclusion  schools  perseverance  decisionmaking  consensus  collegiality  morale  systems  systemschange  change  inclusivity  inlcusivity 
december 2011 by robertogreco
Margaret J. Wheatley: Bringing Schools Back to Life
"We speak so easily these days of systems -- systems thinking, systems change, connectivity, networks. Yet in my experience, we really don't know what these terms mean, or their implications for our work. We don't yet know how to act or think about this new interconnected world of systems we've created. Those of us educated in Western culture learned to think and manage a world that was anything but systemic or interconnected. It was a world of separations and clear boundaries: boxes described jobs, lines charted relationships and accountabilities, roles and policies described the limits of what each individual did and who we wanted them to be. Western culture became very skilled at describing the world with these strange, unnatural separations."
hierarchy  deschooling  unschooling  systems  organizations  leadership  lcproject  1999  margaretwheatley  administration  tcsnmy  change  schools  education  community  rules  mindset  interdependency  meaning  meaningmaking  disruption  disruptiveinnovation  behavior  management  cv  chaos  autonomy  engagement  resistance  systemschange  life  collegiality  networks  livingnetworks  charterschools 
december 2011 by robertogreco

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