Complex Responsive Processes in Organizations: Learning and Knowledge Creation

Routledge
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The past decade has seen increasing focus on the importance of information and knowledge in economic and social processes, the so-called 'knowledge economy'. This is reflected in the popularity amongst practicing managers and organizational theorists of notions of learning, sense-making, knowledge creation, knowledge management and intellectual capital in organizations and more recently, of emotional intelligence as an important management skill. This insightful book:
  • argues that the information processing view of knowledge creation held by systems thinkers is no longer tenable
  • develops the alternative perspective of Complex Responsive Processes of relating, drawing on the complexity sciences as a source for analogies with human action
  • places self-organizing interaction at the centre of the knowledge creating process in organizations.

Learning and knowledge creation are seen as qualitative processes of power relating that are emotional as well as intellectual, creative as well as destructive, enabling as well as constraining, and the result is a radical questioning of the belief that organizational knowledge is essentially codified and centralized. Instead, organizational knowledge is understood to be in the relationships between people in an organization and has to do with the qualities of those relationships.

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About the author

Ralph Stacey is Professor of Management and Director of the Complexity and Management Centre at the University of Hertfordshire, and a member of the Institute of Group Analysis. He is also consultant to managers at many levels accross a range of organizations and the author of a number of books and articles on strategy and complexity theory in management.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Routledge
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Published on
Sep 2, 2003
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Pages
272
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ISBN
9781134535187
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / General
Business & Economics / Management
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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A research-based approach to achieving long-term profitability in business

What does it take to guarantee success and profitability over time? Authors Christopher G. Worley, a senior research scientist, Thomas D. Williams, an executive advisor, and Edward E. Lawler III, one of the country's leading management experts, set out to find the answer. In The Agility Factor: Building Adaptable Organizations for Superior Performance the authors reveal the factors that drive long-term profitability based on the practices of successful companies that have consistently outperformed their peers. Of the 234 large companies across 18 industries that were studied, there were few companies that delivered sustained performance across the board. The authors found that across industries, the most successful companies were not the "usual suspects" found in the media, but companies who possessed a quiet agility that allowed them to quickly perceive and respond to changes so that they could continue to grow. Agility gives organizations the ability to adapt to fluctuations in the environment, test possible responses, and implement changes quickly. This book offers specific, research-based case studies to help organizational leaders use agility to achieve sustained profitability and performance while also becoming more adaptable to a changing marketplace.

For executives, leaders, consultants, board members and all those responsible for the long-term health of organizations, this insightful guide outlines:

The components of agility for business organizations How to successfully build agility within an organization How agility has its foundation in good management practices How to use agility to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace
The Knowledge Evolution offers a unique and powerful road map for understanding knowledge creation, learning, and performance in everyday work. This book reframes current thinking by delving into the hidden world of knowledge supporting both individual and organizational performance, laying the foundation for the emerging art of knowledge management. Packed with best practices from leading edge companies, essential guidelines, design principles, analogies, and conceptual frameworks, it serves as a practical guidebook for mastering the Knowledge Era. It will help managers make more intelligent decisions about knowledge creation, reduce wasteful technology investments and lead to new ease and confidence in applying knowledge and learning principles for themselves and for their organizations.

Verna Allee delves into current thinking and practice to unravel the genetic code of knowledge itself. This revolutionary approach has surfaced a simple and elegant knowledge archetype. She demonstrates how this archetype can help us deal with complexity and suggests ways of self-organizing that make profound sense in today's networked enterprises. From strategies for core knowledge competencies to the key components of individual expertise, The Knowledge Evolution zeroes in on the critical success factors for the knowledge-based enterprise. What emerges is an approach to knowledge management that is simple enough to communicate at every level of the organization, yet rich enough to encompass all the complexity of modern enterprises.

Verna Allee is the founder of Integral Performance Group, a consulting practice in California that specializes in the learning organization, knowledge competencies, organizational systems change, systems thinking, total quality and learning, benchmarking support, best practices research, and strategic development. She holds a degree in the Study of Human Consciousness and her work is informed by a deep interest in intelligence, human development, cognition, intuition and consciousness. She is the author of Learning Links: Enhancing Individual and Team Performance, Pfeiffer and Co-Jossey Bass, 1996.
In this book David and Alex Bennet propose a new model for organizations that enables them to react more quickly and fluidly to today's fast-changing, dynamic business environment: the Intelligent Complex Adaptive System (ICAS). ICAS is a new organic model of the firm based on recent research in complexity and neuroscience, and incorporating networking theory and knowledge management, and turns the living system metaphor into a reality for organizations. This book synthesizes new thinking about organizational structure from the fields listed above into ICAS, a new systems model for the successful organization of the future designed to help leaders and managers of knowledge organizations succeed in a non-linear, complex, fast-changing and turbulent environment. Technology enables connectivity, and the ICAS model takes advantage of that connectivity by fostering the development of dynamic, effective and trusting relationships in a new organizational structure.

This book outlines the model in chapter four, and then breaks down the model into its components in the next two chapters. This is a benefit to readers since different components of the model can be implemented at different times, so the book can guide implementation of one or all of the components as a manager sees fit. There are eight characteristics of the ICAS: organizational intelligence, unity and shared purpose, optimum complexity, selectivity, knowledge centricity, flow, permeable boundaries, and multi-dimensionality.
The Challenge
Built to Last, the defining management study of the nineties, showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the verybeginning.

But what about the company that is not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness?

The Study
For years, this question preyed on the mind of Jim Collins. Are there companies that defy gravity and convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority? And if so, what are the universal distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great?

The Standards
Using tough benchmarks, Collins and his research team identified a set of elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years. How great? After the leap, the good-to-great companies generated cumulative stock returns that beat the general stock market by an average of seven times in fifteen years, better than twice the results delivered by a composite index of the world's greatest companies, including Coca-Cola, Intel, General Electric, and Merck.

The Comparisons
The research team contrasted the good-to-great companies with a carefully selected set of comparison companies that failed to make the leap from good to great. What was different? Why did one set of companies become truly great performers while the other set remained only good?

Over five years, the team analyzed the histories of all twenty-eight companies in the study. After sifting through mountains of data and thousands of pages of interviews, Collins and his crew discovered the key determinants of greatness -- why some companies make the leap and others don't.

The Findings
The findings of the Good to Great study will surprise many readers and shed light on virtually every area of management strategy and practice. The findings include:

Level 5 Leaders: The research team was shocked to discover the type of leadership required to achieve greatness. The Hedgehog Concept (Simplicity within the Three Circles): To go from good to great requires transcending the curse of competence. A Culture of Discipline: When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great results. Technology Accelerators: Good-to-great companies think differently about the role of technology. The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: Those who launch radical change programs and wrenching restructurings will almost certainly fail to make the leap.

“Some of the key concepts discerned in the study,” comments Jim Collins, "fly in the face of our modern business culture and will, quite frankly, upset some people.”

Perhaps, but who can afford to ignore these findings?

Approaches to leadership and management are still dominated by prescriptions – usually claimed as scientific – for top executives to choose the future direction of their organization. The global financial recession and the collapse of investment capitalism (surely not planned by anyone) make it quite clear that top executives are simply not able to choose future directions. Despite this, current management literature mostly continues to avoid the obvious – management’s inability to predict or control what will happen in the future. The key question now must be how we are to think about management if we take the uncertainty of organizational life seriously.

Ralph Stacey has turned to the sciences of uncertainty and complexity to develop an understanding of leadership and management as the ordinary politics of daily organizational life. In presenting organizations as a series of complex responsive processes, Stacey’s new book helps us to see organizational reality for what it actually is – human beings engaged in many, many local conversational interactions and power relations in which they negotiate their ideologically based choices. Organizational continuity and change emerge unpredictably, rather than as a result of any overall plan. This is a radically different picture from the one painted by most of the management literature, which explains "organizational continuity and change" as the realization of the global plans and choices of a few powerful executives within an organization.

Providing a new foundation for understanding complexity and management, this important book is required reading for managers and leaders wanting to understand the reality of complexity in organizations, including those engaged in postgraduate studies in leadership, organizational behaviour and change management.

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