ArticlePDF Available

Chaordic Systems Thinking: Some Suggestions for a Complexity Framework to Inform a Learning Organization

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

This contribution suggests a conceptual framework for using complexity to understand human interactions in learning organizations. The particular lens adopted for this purpose is that of the Chaos perspective. The following general concepts are described: discontinuous growth, attractors: their basins and landscapes, the chaordic properties of consciousness, connectivity, indeterminacy, dissipation and emergence, orienteering and path finding, holons and holonic capacity, dialogue, emergent leadership, and individual and organizational mind. Because all human individuals act as agents and are seen as part of the holon, this framework helps to prevent any split between different frameworks of causality. It exclusively supports the use of a transformative teleology.
Content may be subject to copyright.
First International Conference on Performance Measures,Benchmarking and Best Practices in the New Economy,
“Business Excellence ‘03”, University of Minho, Guimaraes, Portugal, June 10-13, 2003
Chaordic Systems Thinking
Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance
Management
First International Conference on Performance Measures, Benchmarking and Best Practices
in the New Economy, “Business Excellence ’03”, University of Minho, Guimaraes, Portugal
© April 2003
Frans M. van Eijnatten
Institute for Business Engineering and Technology Application (BETA)
Eindhoven University of Technology, Faculty of Technology Management, Pav.U10-HPM,
P.O. - Box 513, 5600 MB Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Tel.: +31 40 247 24 69, Fax: +31 40 243 71 61, Mobile: +31 616 066 140
E-mail: F.M.v.Eijnatten@tm.tue.nl Internet: http://www.chaosforum.com
___________________________________________________________________________
Abstract
This conceptual contribution is about a new framework for
explaining human performance management under turbulent
conditions, which was based on the Chaos lens. The following
general concepts are described: Discontinuous growth curve,
attractors and their basins, holons and holonic development,
dialogue, sustainable work systems, organisational novelty, the
chaordic properties of consciousness, connectivity, indeterminacy,
dissipation and emergence, orienteering and path finding,
individual and organisational mind, Wilber’s quadrants, and
holonic potential. The paper concludes with some statements for
the plenary session of “Business Excellence ‘03”. For some
applications, see [68] [69] [70].
Principal Keywords: performance_measures.
Object/Function Keywords: adaptive_system(s), chaos_theory, complex_systems,
complexity, connectivity, creativity, culture, organisational_change, reflective_learning,
socio-technical infrastructures.
Application Area Keywords: company, management, networked organisations, social
organisations.
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
2
Chaordic Systems Thinking
Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance
Management
First International Conference on Performance Measures, Benchmarking and Best Practices
in the New Economy, “Business Excellence ’03”, University of Minho, Guimaraes, Portugal
© April 2003
Frans M. van Eijnatten
Institute for Business Engineering and Technology Application (BETA)
Eindhoven University of Technology, Faculty of Technology Management, Pav.U10-HPM,
P.O. - Box 513, 5600 MB Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Tel.: +31 40 247 24 69, Fax: +31 40 243 71 61, Mobile: +31 616 066 140
E-mail: F.M.v.Eijnatten@tm.tue.nl Internet: http://www.chaosforum.com
___________________________________________________________________________
Table of Contents
Abstract
1. Introduction
2. Chaordic Systems Thinking
2.1 A Definition
2.2 Some Essentials of Chaordic Systems Thinking
2.2.1 CST: Basic Terms and Concepts
2.2.2 CST: Discontinuous Growth Curve
2.3 Some Characteristics of Chaordic Systems
2.3.1 Five Core Properties
2.3.2 Orienteering and Path Finding
2.4 Chaordic Development
2.4.1 Holons
2.4.2 Wilber’s Quadrant
2.4.3 Holonic Potential
2.4.4 Dialogue
3. Sustainable Work Systems
4. CST and Organisational Novelty
5. Some Statements for the Plenary Session of “Business Excellence ‘03”
References
Figures, Tables, and Boxes
Working Paper Distributed at the First International Conference on Performance Measures, Benchmarking and Best Practices in
New Economy, University of Minho, Guimaraes, Portugal, Parallel Session “Chaordic Performance Measures”
Annual Meeting of ECCON, Please Don’t Quote
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
3
Chaordic Systems Thinking
Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance
Management
First International Conference on Performance Measures, Benchmarking and Best Practices
in the New Economy, “Business Excellence ’03”, University of Minho, Guimaraes, Portugal
© April 2003
Frans M. van Eijnatten
Institute for Business Engineering and Technology Application (BETA)
Eindhoven University of Technology, Faculty of Technology Management, Pav.U10-HPM,
P.O. - Box 513, 5600 MB Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Tel.: +31 40 247 24 69, Fax: +31 40 243 71 61, Mobile: +31 616 066 140
E-mail: F.M.v.Eijnatten@tm.tue.nl Internet: http://www.chaosforum.com
___________________________________________________________________________
1. Introduction
In the current world of business change might take place suddenly and rapidly.
Individual companies have grown in complexity enormously, and may meet their
limits of growth as they go through periods of relative instability which are
characterised by unpredictability and uncontrollability. Although we have become
quite advanced in streamlining our business processes in order to boost productivity,
unfortunately, most of our current knowledge about management is solely applicable
to situations of relative stability.
Also, working life in the 21st century is different from all that went before. Some
organisational behaviour, that has proved to be effective in the past, may not paying
off any more in the time to come. In the midst of complexity, people increasingly are
facing inconsistencies, contradictory demands, and dilemmas in decision making.
Because of the basic unpredictability of the situation, individual work loads have
increased dramatically. In this context, Work Life Balance (WLB) has become a major
issue. While competitive and sustainable growth still is the most significant goal for
companies around the globe, the need for new and better ways to achieve that is well
recognised and urgent. Current remedies for improving enterprise competitiveness
more often than not do bring greater work intensity, and don’t even meet the
requirements of the immediate future, most of the time [1]. Symptoms of
malfunctioning are already evident and numerous. Further increases in productivity
along traditional lines cannot be achieved without serious depletion of human
resources. The increased intensity of work not only claims high human tolls, but also
has adversary effects on the overall quality of both operations and businesses [2].
Looking at the European context, unintended social consequences such as health
problems, increased absenteeism of employees, generalized early retirement, and
burn-out, testify to the unbalanced nature of the contemporary situation. These
problems require innovative solutions not only at the macro-political and economic
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
4
levels, but also at the meso- and micro levels: In other words, we have to look
differently at firms and organisations, and at individuals as well.
In this paper we present Chaordic Systems Thinking (CST) as a new holonic
approach to human performance management, in which the discoveries of the ‘new
science’ – Chaos and Complexity – are adopted in order to prepare for and explain
leap-like, discontinuous growth in complex social systems [3] [4] [5]. CST tries to
account for the emergence of ‘real novelty’ in terms of Stacey et al. [6]. CST is a new
paradigm for working life, which may transcend and include previous approaches. As
such, CST can be seen as a next-generation framework for Socio-Technical Systems,
that is based on the Chaos lens.
2. Chaordic Systems Thinking
2.1 Definition
The Chaos metaphor recognises that systems are complex, dynamical and non-linear,
in which chaos and order co-exist. Chaos, originally formulated as the ‘theory of
complex, dynamical, non-linear systems’ [7] essentially is the science of all
simultaneously chaotic and orderly (i.e. ‘chaordic’) entities [3] including that known
as enterprise. Although chaos theory already implies both chaos and order, we prefer
to use the term ‘chaordic’ instead to stress the simultaneous presence of both chaos
and order even more. According to The Chaordic Alliance [8] the term ‘Chaordic’
means:
“1) Anything simultaneously orderly and chaotic,
2) Patterned in a way dominated neither by order nor chaos,
3) Existing in the phase between order and chaos.”
Dee Hock, founder and former CEO of Visa Card International, introduced the term
‘chaord’, being an amalgamation of chaos and order [9] [10]. Briefly stated, a chaord
is any chaotically-ordered complex. Loosely translated to social organisations, it
would mean the harmoniously blending of intellectual and experiential learning” [11].
Chaordic systems are complex systems, and as such able to thrive in ‘Far-From-
Equilibrium (FFE)’ conditions.
A chaordic system is “a complex and dynamical arrangement of connections
between elements forming a unified whole the behaviour of which is both
unpredictable (chaotic) and patterned (orderly) ... simultaneously. Chaos then is the
science of such chaotic and orderly, that is ‘chaordic’ entities” (12: p.1] [13].
Chaordic Systems Thinking (CST) is a way of thinking and subsequently, an
approach to designing a complex organisational system that recognises the enterprise
not as a fixed structure, but as ‘flow’ [4] [14] [15]. It offers new concepts in order to
deal with uncontrollability, uncertainty and complexity in an enterprise.
2.2 Some Essentials of Chaordic Systems Thinking
2.2.1 CST: Basic Terms and Concepts
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
5
In a special issue of the Journal of Organisational Change Management [5] Chaos
(with a capital C) is defined not as a theory, but as a lens. It is primarily seen as a
particular way of looking at reality [13: p. 340-341]:
“Chaos can be regarded as the science of 21st century management. (...) Rather, this
newly emerging organisational cosmology is a specific way to look at and
comprehend a specific reality – for our purposes, the increasingly complex
organisations we find ourselves barely able to sustain in the turbulence and flux of the
hyper-competitive global marketplace. (...) Given its common connotation, Chaos is a
rather unfortunate moniker for the new science. Microsoft’s thesaurus offers several
synonyms for the term including ‘confusion, bedlam, anarchy, pandemonium, disarray
and madness’. Furthermore, more than one English-language dictionary has defined
it as the ‘complete absence of order’. In order to mediate the likelihood of
misunderstanding, the convention of employing an uppercase ‘C’ when referring to
the meta-view of reality that is the subject of this special issue has been adopted.”
In that same issue, complexity is defined neither as a theory nor as a lens, but as one –
of many – characteristics of whole systems [16: p. 405]:
The theory of chaos that eventually served as the catalytic agent for the metapraxis we
now refer to as Chaos (note uppercase), was intended for use in predicting stochastic patterns
in Nature’s most intractable systems, the weather for instance. In contrast, what is often
called ‘complexity theory’ cannot be attributed to the research of any individual or scientific
institution nor can the date of its formulation be confirmed. (...) Consequently, due to its
failure to meet these basic criteria for acknowledgement as a scientific theory, we are
compelled to consider what is claimed under the complexity banner as an eclectic collection
of concepts, premises and notions many of which have been borrowed from various branches
of science including the chaos theory. (...) Although complexity may indeed help explain
the rules governing our reality, Chaos is the lens through which we see that reality.”
We take this position as main point of departure in this paper. So, we don’t focus on
chaos theory – which is a mathematical construction – but use Chaos as a systemic
way of looking at reality, as a world view, as a metaphor for change which recognises
that systems are complex, dynamical, and non-linear. In order to avoid any confusion,
we will speak of ‘chaos thinking’, instead of chaos theory. Chaordic Systems Thinking
(CST) is the name of the framework that uses Chaos both as a lens and as a metaphor
for change.
CST was developed as a successor of Open Systems Thinking (OST) [14] [15]. We
suggest the following holarchy of lenses, which is a hierachy of holons. For an
explanation of the holon concept, see later [17]:
At the lowest level of complexity we distinguish ‘Closed Systems Thinking
(ST)’,
On an intermediate level of complexity we position ‘Open Systems Thinking
(OST)’,
At the currently highest level of complexity we put ‘Chaordic Systems
Thinking (CST)’.
These three different lenses are all valid, at the same time. However, they may be used
to observe different phenomena in reality. The definition of a holarchy implies that
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
6
chaordic systems may behave like open systems, but open systems cannot behave like
chaordic systems. Similarly, open systems may behave like closed systems, but closed
systems can not ‘behave’ in the same way as open systems do. To state this
characteristic differently, the higher holonic levels both transcend and include the
lower ones, at the same time [18].
2.2.2 CST: Discontinuous Growth Curve
One of the central features of CST is the notion of discontinuous growth. Chaordic
systems grow in a discontinuous way. They may leap to higher levels of complexity
and coherence suddenly, instead of gradually, see Figure 1. The life cyle of a chaordic
system may be described as follows: it is born or initiated, starts to develop and grow
into maturity, until it hits its limits to growth, after which it may die or leap to a next
level of complexity, to start a new cycle of development. In the period of growth into
maturity a chaordic system finds itself in a state of relative stability (see the grey area
in Figure 1). When it approaches its limits a chaordic system starts to bifurcate, and
enters a period of relative instability.
_____________________________
Figure 1 about here
______________________________
Figure 1 Chaordic Systems Thinking: Discontinuous Growth Curve
During its development, a chaordic system may be in one of the following equilibrium
states:
- E = Equilibrium,
- NTE = Near To Equilibrium,
- FFE = Far From Equilibrium,
- FC = Fatal Chaos.
The Discontinuous Growth Curve can be seen as a sequence of two different
phases: Relative stable stages – E and NTE – in which the system grows in a linear
way (see the rectangular shapes in Figure 1, incremental change), and relative non-
stable – i.e., chaotic, stages: FFE and FC – in which the system ‘changes’ in a non-
linear way (transformative change, qualitative leaps). In the chaotic phase the system
becomes very sensitive to external changes. It is called ‘Sensitive Dependence on
Initial Conditions (SDIC)’ or, more popularly, the ‘butterfly effect’ – the idea that a
butterfly flapping its wings in the Brazilian rain forest can cause rain to fall rather than
the sun to shine later in London [19] [20]. In the complex, dynamical, non-linear, non-
equilibrial enterprise, a single minuscule change, a tiny perturbation in the system can
amplify, yielding enormous changes in the outcome.
In each of these states the system in under the influence of different ‘attractors’. An
attractor is a condition that forces a chaordic system to repeat a typical pattern of
behaviour, not each time in exactly the same way, but every time within clear and
specified boundaries [21: p.58]. Although no external force, an attractor behaves as a
sort of magnet, that imposes the system to repeat its behavioural pattern, over and over
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
7
again. Polley defines an attractor basin as the region in which the attractor is
successfully able to execute its magnet function, in which any level of performance
will be drawn to follow the attractor [22: p.446-447] [23: p.60]. Chaordic development
may be described as: “A dynamical process passing from one attractor basin to the
next in an incessant journey toward the ‘edge’ of chaos” [24]. A holon is emprisoned
in its attractor basin [25], see Figure 2.
_________________________________
Figure 2 about here
_________________________________
Figure 2 An illustration of an ‘Attractor Basin’ and ‘Fitness Landscape’. After [25]
According to Priesmeyer [26: p.22]: “the outer limit of a basin of attraction defines the
threshold between a return to established patterns and an escape to uncharted
territory.” So, a (new) basin of attraction represents a (new) order. A ‘Fitness
Landscape’ is a composition of multiple attractors (and their basins) a holon can be
attracted to during its travel, see Figure 2.
‘Bifurcation’ is defined as a qualitative change in an attractor’s structure. The
‘bifurcation point’ or ‘window of opportunities’ marks the moment in time at which a
holon comes under the influence of other attractor basins: Coming from a relative
stable state the holon is entering a relative unstable one. It will experience all kinds of
dilemmas and eventually may ‘jump without any external help’ to a higher level of
complexity, or eventually may dissipate.
As said before, in CTS development is primarily seen as discontinuous. Even in
relatively stable periods a chaordic system may show small qualitative leaps instead of
gradual change, see Figure 3. We call this the fractal dimension of growth. Gradual
change on a macro level can be interpreted as a series of small qualitative leaps on a
micro level.
_____________________________
Figure 3 about here
_____________________________
Figure 3 Chaordic Systems Thinking: The Fractal Dimension of Growth
These small leaps may occur in one or more individual system’s elements (i.e., sub-
system’s transformation), while the chaordic system as a whole is still gradually
developing in a linear way (i.e., whole system’s re-formation).
Chaordic systems grow in a discontinuous way. They may leap to higher levels of
complexity and coherence. Obviously, for STS proponents this finding poses a direct
challenge to the practice of ‘variance control’ as a means of ensuring stability. Unless
and until the system manages to escape the Equilibrium ‘attractor’– the draw to
homeostasis regarded favorably by open systems thinkers while proponents of CST
are more likely to shun that tendency – it will remain vulnerable to stagnation and
decline. Only when liberated from the basin of the steady state can the enterprise fully
respond to what CST calls the ‘strange attractor of FFE’. From the perspective of
CST however, the observer and the observed cannot be regarded as separate [27] [28]
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
8
[29]. Since the change agent and the system are mutually co-defined aspects of the
same reality, each playing an active role in co-creating the whole of which they are
part, the habit of reducing the whole (inside and out) to an empirically accessible part
(the surface) will of necessity bias and necessarily delimit what is perceived, and
consequently the outcomes attained [30].
During the period of non-linear change a chaordic (sub)system shows different
modes of behaviours which compete with each other for existence. The system starts
to oscillate between these modes. Chaos and order co-exist in this unstable phase. One
may wish to look more closely to the transformative change from old into new
behaviour patterns, see Figure 4.
_____________________________
Figure 4 about here
_____________________________
Figure 4 Non-Linear Development: The ‘Cross in the Chaos’. After [31]
Next, we will explain the two-by-two table in Figure 4, which is called the ‘Cross in
the Chaos’ [31]. The upper two cells I and II represent the ‘dominant pattern’ (current
context); the lower two cells represent the ‘emerging pattern’ (new context). A typical
successful transformative change or ‘qualitative leap’ is defined as a transition from
cell I (‘old thinking, old doing’) into cell IV (‘new thinking, new doing’). The
transitions from cell I (‘old thinking, old doing’) into cell II (‘old thinking, new
doing’) and cell I (‘old thinking, old doing’) into cell III (‘new thinking, old doing’)
are defined as unsuccessful or pathological changes, which are not sustainable, and
might be considered as temporary, transitional states. Cell I is characterised by ‘old
thinking, old doing’. This is the old dominant behaviour pattern the chaordic system
has been showing during the relative stable growth period. Cell IV is characterised by
‘new thinking, new doing’. This is the new dominant behaviour pattern the chaordic
system is showing immediately following the transformation. Cells II and III are
intermediate stages – ‘old thinking, new doing’, and ‘new thinking, old doing’ – which
are typified by serious confusions, contradictions, and basic lack of clarity. In the
unstable phase the system oscillates between these modes, frequently and irregularly.
In CST, time is seen as both crucial and irreversible, see Figure 4. In this figure, t1
indicates that the chaordic system just passed the ‘bifurcation point’, the point from
where the system starts to show – on top of strong signals of old thinking – al kinds of
weak signals of new thinking. At t2 the system oscillates heavily between the old and
the new thinkings. At t3 the new behaviour has become the dominant pattern, and the
chaordic system starts a next development cycle at a higher level of complexity.
In the unstable phase chaordic systems become hypersensitive: Minor changes in
initial conditions may have dramatic effects on the system’s outcome (the butterfly
effect). In a complex, dynamical, non-linear, non-equilibrial system, a single
minuscule change, a tiny perturbation may amplify, yielding enormous changes in the
outcome.
2.3 Some Characteristics of Chaordic Systems
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
9
2.3.1 Five Core Properties
Chaordic systems are characterised by five core properties [13] [32], see Table 1:
1. Consciousness,
2. Connectivity,
3. Indeterminacy,
4. Dissipation,
5. Emergence.
Organisations, seen as chaordic systems are characterised by the following five core
chaordic properties [3] [32] [33] [34]: ‘Consciousness’, ‘connectivity’,
‘indeterminacy’, ‘dissipation’ and ‘emergence’. For their descriptions and some major
implications for socio-technical design we heavily borrow from Fitzgerald [3] [33]:
Ad 1. Consciousness. Mind, more than matter is the essential
driving force of an enterprise seen as a chaordic system.
Therefore, the re-design of an enterprise should be initiated
outward from the organisational mind. As long as the
organisational mind fails to hold profound systemic change
as both possible and desirable, any effort to effect a change
strategy will be futile. In CST ideas are primary: The
internal potential of an enterprise is key.
Ad 2. Connectivity. CST verifies that the enterprise is both whole
and part. No part can exist independently of the whole, nor
can any whole be sustained separately from its parts. Each
part is by itself a whole and this whole is part of a bigger
whole. Therefore, the re-design of an enterprise should
minimise boundaries and divisions. An organisation is
changed as a whole or it is not changed.
Ad 3. Indeterminacy. CST points out that in the dynamical
complexity of an enterprise, every event is both cause and
effect. Because of this complexity, the future is principally
unknowable in advance. There is only now in which the
‘past’ presents itself by memory, and the ‘future’ exists as
vision. Therefore, the re-design of an enterprise should
maximize fluidity and resilience in all aspects of structure.
The focus should be on preparing, not planning for surprise.
The answer to the ‘how’ of change must be made up as one
goes.
Ad 4. Dissipation. Enterprises are dissipative systems engaging in
a cycle of both destruction and creation. They continuously
‘fall apart’ and then grow back together again, each time in a
novel new form, ungoverned by the past. Therefore, fashion
a permeable boundary to hold ‘loosely’ the system’s
essential assets: I.e., people, knowledge, core competencies,
etc., allowing the whole to ‘fall apart’ (by intention) well
before it is apparently time to do so. Even if a system
receives clear and timely signals that it is approaching its
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
10
limits, it still can’t change overnight. So, start to change long
before it is time. Design into the enterprise a self-triggering
mechanism – a way to shake things up that enables the
system to automatically and continuously transform itself.
Ad 5. Emergence. Enterprises strive toward ascending levels of
coherence and complexity, made possible by capacities for
self-organisation, self-reference, and self-transcendence.
Therefore, foster in the core of the organisational mind a
compelling and evolving collective vision, that is created
and shared by all, and that feeds all thought and actions.
Consciousness enables an enterprise to ‘jump’ to a higher form of complexity and
coherence. Emergents can develop within an enterprise under the influence of the
organisational consciousness, the ‘organisational mind’ or ‘orgmind’ for short [33].
These emergents can help the organisation not to dissipate in a period of instability –
the state of Far-From-Equilibrium – but to jump to a higher level of complexity and
coherence, instead. But dissipation is always an alternative, which make new forms
possible.
Table 1 The Chaordic Systems Framework: Implications & Guidelines for
Organisational Design Source: [3] [33]
_________________________________
Table 1 about here
_________________________________
Designing organisations in a chaordic way means boosting consciousness
(organisational mind), connectivity (minimizing boundaries), indeterminacy
(maximize fluidity of structure), dissipation (“change before it is time”), and
emergence (collective vison which guides all thinking).
2.3.2 Orienteering and Path Finding
So, chaordic systems are characterised by five core properties – consciousness,
connectivity, undeterminacy, dissipation, and emergence. Together, they form a single
indivisible conceptual whole, and enable an enterprise to ‘jump’ to a higher level of
complexity and coherence. Emergents can develop within an enterprise under the
influence of the organisational consciousness, the organisational mind or ‘orgmind’
for short [35].
One should avoid the detailed mapping of ‘interference’ in the local environment
for the benefit of some future governance. One has to accept the fundamental
unknowability and unpredictability of future occurrences in concordance with the CST
characteristic of indeterminacy. Instead, one should try to grasp patterns and
probabilities in the midst of complexity. Hannon & Atherton call this process
‘orienteering’ [35: p.2] “The successful orienteer needs no directional signs pointing
in a specific direction or to a clear end-point.” A related concept is ‘pathfinding’.
According to Freebourne [36]: “path finding can help us to regain purpose, both for
ourselves and the collective. (...) We each have a unique role in the collective vision, a
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
11
larger whole of which we are part.” Holmes [37] defines path finding in unknown
territory as “creating desired realities”. She states that “path finding is the means to be
at the right place at the right time for the information coincidences which will
accelerate progress”. Managers should elicit change, and primarily let go for control
[4]. This implies re-directing the basic organisational renewal strategy from ‘reacting’
– or active adaptation – to changes in the environment, to ‘initiating’ or deliberately
changing the system, long before it is time, bringing it in line with the CST
characteristic of dissipation. Crossan et al. [38] have called this the ‘improvising
organisation’; an art learned through continuous practice. It is the strive for self-
renewal – breaking up the status quo – that is key. This implies re-directing the basic
organisational renewal strategy from ‘reacting’ – or active adaptation – to changes in
the environment, to ‘initiating’ or deliberately changing the system, long before it is
time, bringing it in line with the CST characteristic of dissipation. According to
Markides successful innovators are: “not afraid to destabilize a smooth-running
machine and to do so periodically but continuously” [39: p.39].
2.4 Chaordic Development
2.4.1 Holons
As already mentioned before, another central feature of CST is the concept of
‘holons’. Holons are entities that are both wholes and parts of a greater whole, at the
same time [40] [41], see Figure 5.
_________________________________
Figure 5 about here
_________________________________
Figure 5 Chaordic Systems Thinking: Holonic Development at Various Levels of
Complexity
Holons are structures that are simultaneously autonomous and dependent. Holons
emerge, that is they evolve to higher orders of whole / partness by virtue of four
fundamental capacities possessed by each [18]:
1) Agency or identity,
2) Communion or membership,
3) Self-transcendence or to go beyond what went before,
4) Self-dissolution or decomposing into sub-holons.
Holons are able to generate ‘emergents’ – novel qualities of the whole not present in
the parts – because they are inherently self-organising, self-referencing, self-iterating
and self-adapting. Holons emerge holarchically (develop greater depth), transcend and
include their predecessors (preserve its component parts while going beyond the
limitations of each), and holons know their worlds according to the terms and
limitations of their core identity. Holons dissipate: They are always subject to falling
apart because they fail to leap, or when they become unbalanced (the wholeness
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
12
dominates and represses its partness, or the parts refuses responsibility for other than
itself). Damaging or destroying of any holarchical level will result in damage or
destruction of all higher levels. Although the higher level is more significant, the
lower holon is more fundamental, see Figure 5. Holons and holarchies are
characterised by differentiation (generation of variety) and integration (generation of
coherence). There is no such thing as ‘whole’ whole holon (all autonomy is autonomy-
in-relationship). The adjective ‘holonic’ is used to indicate the ‘both ... and’ character
of entities.
Not all holons are equal: One whole / part is distinguished from another by the
relative degree to which it taps its internal or ‘holonic capacity’ [4]. The higher a
holon climbs the ladder of knowing or consciousness, the greater its ability to
apprehend reality. Holonic capacity is the holons’ ability to operate with greater
mindfulness, expanded awareness, ‘control- and response-ability’ [4]. Control-ability
is the degree to which a holon is able to influence future events, and response-ability is
the ability to respond to FFE conditions. The organisational mind – the sum total of
beliefs, assumptions, premises, values, and conclusions mostly tacit members of an
organisational system hold commonly as truth – is the ‘container’ of the holonic
capacity of an organisation.
CST suggests that by developing holonic capacity, an enterprise is able to see the
‘window of opportunity’ when arriving at ‘the edge of chaos’. Only then, an enterprise
is able to leap to a higher order of coherence – a new stable dynamic that is however
more complex and more effective – and therefore escaping dissipation. When the
organisational mind is developed in such a way, an enterprise is able to transform
itself – from within – into a totally new form, which can grasp the pace of our
changing world.
2.4.2 Wilber’s Quadrant
An organisation seen as a holon possesses both an exterior surface as well as an
interior essence [18]. Our attention is focused on the exterior, most of the time. By
‘exterior’ we mean any objectifiable entity or process that can be described by
empirical observations, making use of our five senses or their extensions (the
‘YOU’and ‘THEY’ in Figure 6). Both the interior and exterior have individual and
collective dimensions. A holon consists therefore of four quadrants (see Figure 6).
_____________________________
Insert Figure 6 about here
_____________________________
Figure 6 Holonic Development in Wilber’s Quadrants (1). After [18]
The exterior of the individual (‘YOU’) can be described by, for instance, tasks and
forms of behaviour. The exterior of the collective (‘THEY’) can be seen as the
noticeable patterns of behaviour of groups in an organisation. In these first two
quadrants the observer is not part of the observed. The interior of the individual
(‘ME’) is characterised by emotions, thoughts, and feelings, which is indicated by
‘individual mind’. This quadrant is about Consciousness. When individual thoughts
are exchanged and shared with other individuals, the result may be a collective world
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
13
view or commonly shared meaning (‘US’). This is the interior of the collective that is
indicated by organisational culture or ‘organisational mind’. This quadrant is about
mutual understanding, cultural fit, and justness. In these last two quadrants the
observer is part of the observed.
The interior of the individual is characterised by emotions, thoughts, and feelings,
which is indicated by ‘individual mind’. This quadrant is about consciousness,
subjectivity and truthfulness. When individual thoughts are exchanged and shared
with other individuals, the result may be a collective world view or commonly shared
meaning. This is the interior of the collective that is indicated by organisational culture
or ‘collective mind’. This quadrant is about mutual understanding, cultural fit, and
justness. According to Wilber, in each quadrant a different type of holarchy (holonic
hierarchy) is operating, and also a different type of validity test is appropriate:
Truthfulness for the intentional domain (‘ME’), Truth for the behavioural domain
(‘YOU’), Justness for the cultural domain (‘US’), and Functional Fit for the social
domain (‘THEY’). Wilber states that a truly holistic approach should cover all four
facets equally well [18], see Figure 7. Chaordic Systems Thinking takes Wilber’s
Quadrant as its reference framework. Basically, it combines both interior and exterior
aspects, both at the individual and collective levels. CST is advocating to re-unite the
interior with the exterior, on both the individual and collective levels.
CST is meant to re-unite the interior with the exterior – thinking and doing – on
both the individual and collective levels in organisations, in order to boost the
system’s performance.
_____________________________
Insert Figure 7 about here
_____________________________
Figure 7 Holonic Development in Wilber’s Quadrants (2). After [18]
A chaordic enterprise is able to tap its inherent capacity to self-organise to ever-
higher orders of complexity and coherence. This powerful drive to self-transcendence
is virtually impossible in Equilibrium (E), improbable when Near-To-Equilibrium
(NTE), but altogether ripe with potential in Far-From-Equilibrium (FFE) [3: p.56], see
Figure 1.
2.4.3 Holonic Potential
The organisational mind – the sum total of beliefs, assumptions, premises, values, and
conclusions mostly tacit members of an organisational system hold commonly as truth
– is the ‘container’ of the holonic capacity of an organisation. CST suggests that by
developing holonic capacity, an enterprise is able to see ‘the window of opportunity’
when arriving at ‘the edge of chaos’. Only then, an enterprise is able to leap to a
higher order of coherence – a new stable dynamic that is however more complex and
more effective – and therefore escaping dissipation. When the organisational mind is
developed in such a way, an enterprise is able to transform itself – from within – into a
totally new form, which can grasp the pace of our changing world. CST can facilitate
‘learning from within’ by means of deep dialogue, on top of mere ‘surface learning’,
in accordance with the CST characteristic of consciousness. A way to survive is by
tapping the interior potential, which gives organisations the ability to transform by
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
14
itself to a higher level of coherence. In this new state of order the organisation is able
to see through its complexity more effectively. It is assumed that in periods of
instability, enterprises should rely on the innovative character and creativity of its
employees. Old control paradigms – for example cost reduction – are of less use under
these circumstances and an organisation may seek for smarter ways of dealing with
instability. The value added is the system’s interior, the collective development of the
‘organisational mind’, the vision that is continuously created and shared by all. Story
telling and narratives can be used as a means of transferring codified experiences and
learning to others [42] [43]. Also, the inclusion of so-called ‘soft’ issues is mandatory
here. Marcic distinguishes between five dimensions of work: 1) Physical (work design
and work conditions, financial issues); 2) Intellectual (challenging work, training,
drive for further development and learning, freedom to fail); 3) Emotional
(interpersonal work environment: Personal support, respect and appreciation); 4)
Volitional (desire for change, willingness instead of resistance to make sacrifices at all
levels); and 5) Spiritual (moral issues: Integrity; capacity to love; justice and respect at
all levels; nobility and dignity, wisdom of love) [44: p.28 / 39]. In order to boost
productivity and effectiveness, she is suggesting a better balance between those
dimensions, paying explicit attention to both the emotional [45: p.29] and the spiritual
dimensions: “Trust, personal responsibility, dignity, and respect – all these issues
reside in the organisation’s soul. To address the soul of an organisation, we must look
particularly at the third and fifth dimensions of work (...). Until we do so, we will
continue to find that many of the resources we are pouring into organisational change
are indeed wasted”. Any disproportionality between those respective dimensions
should be avoided. It is the balance that is essential.
2.4.4 Dialogue
Where structural approaches, like Socio-Technical Systems Design (STSD), may
be quite helpful to develop the exterior. In CST the interaction process of ‘dialogue’
can be used to develop the interior of the individual and the collective. One might
think of dialogue as a stream of meaning flowing among and through a group of
people, out of which might emerge some shared meaning [47]. Dialogue moves
beyond any one individual’s understanding, to make explicit and build collective
meaning and vision. Dialogue slows down the pace of thought of the following mental
activities, so that we can become aware of them: Reception of data, interpretations
(perceptions), assumptions and conclusions. These four stages are usually carried out
in an instant. Dialogue explores the four different stages explicitly with the aim to
identify our assumptions, those things that are assumed or thought to be. By learning
how to identify or recognise our assumptions, we are able to identify inconsistencies.
Persons who done the chaos lens and use dialogue as their main mode of
communication speak the truth, are present, pay attention, and let go. For a
comparison between dialogue and discussion, see Table 1.
Table 1 Nine Distinctions between Dialogue and Discussion. After [33] [61]
_________________________________
Table 1 about here
_________________________________
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
15
Individual roles in a chaordic organisation are highly flexible, rather than fixed.
The CST concept of ‘emergent leadership’ is illustrative ion that respect: Leadership is
not allocated to a single person, but will be taken up by different persons in a group,
initiated at their own discretion. Individual role models of the carp, shark and dolphin
can help employees to understand emergent leadership. A carp’s role stands for a
submissive behavior, a shark’s role for an aggressive behavior. A dolphin’s role stands
for a mixed role in which there is a choice between submissive and aggressive
behaviors. The story of the dolphin illustrates the way one may adapt ones role in a
particular situation. A dolphin is a metaphor for a personal way of life, in which one
consciously chooses to either change or accept the situation. A dolphin never chooses
to suffer from a situation.
The Dolphin attractor can be descibed as a complex responsive process or pattern
in which employees take up responsibility in their group to lead or being led,
dependable on the circumstances, at their own discretion.
3. Sustainable Work Systems
Holonic development might be considered as sustainable development. According
to Backström et al. a sustainable work system can be described as a work system that
consciously strives towards simultaneous development at different levels: Individual,
group / firm, and region / society [47]. For instance, at the lowest level, an individual
wants to stay healthy and enjoys continuous learning, at the group/firm level economic
growth may be considered important to keep or raise shares in the market, and at the
societal level the maintenance of employment opportunities may be most crucial. All
these different aspects interact, and materialise concurrently. They make the system
both dynamic and very complex.
Only a system that continuously is in a state of ‘becoming,’ can be called
‘sustainable’. Sustainability cannot be defined as a static characteristic of a structure
or a process, because everything in the system is constantly ‘on the move’. A
definition of sustainability should take into account time as an important factor, and
should focus on the dynamic qualities of the system.
According to Backström et al. [47: p.67] there are three central features
characteristic of sustainable work systems as seen through a CST lens: 1) Spontaneous
and mutual alignment of individuals; 2) Successfully coping with rapidly changing
external conditions; and 3) Fitness development for competitiveness:
Ad 1) A first key feature of a sustainable work system is the tendency of their
members for spontaneous and mutual alignment; to pull in the same direction.
This is a matter of the internal interaction and dialogue that promote collective
learning and self-organisation, of creating a common culture, a flow of
information, a frame for interpretation and a common vision. This situation makes
it also possible for an individual to create and reconstruct meaning and
understanding and, consequently, to handle worry, psychological wear and tear,
that continuous change might cause, and to foster personal and professional
development.
Ad 2) A second key feature of a sustainable work system is the ability of the
organisation to cope with unpredictable changes in the environment. This is a
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
16
matter of relating to the surrounding world so as to ‘control’ resources and
markets and to adapt to external changes. There are numerous examples of
companies that have suffered a bankruptcy because they failed to adapt to this
change.
Ad 3) A third key feature of a sustainable work system is fitness development for
competitiveness. Most organisations are facing strong competition in a global
market. There is a continuous striving towards increased development in complex
systems, in both the legitimate and shadow systems in order to be able to survive
in this fast changing fitness landscape.
How can Sustainable Work Systems be realised in practice? How can we implement
the principles? According to Moldaschl and Brödner [48] both of these are the wrong
questions, which are based on two dominant paradigms of change: The expert and
participative approaches. As to the expert approach, they state: “We should give up
the idea, that work and organisational structures could be ‘designed’ and systems
could be ‘implemented’, while we have then to cope with ‘barriers’ against our well-
meaning models, systems, principles, etc. This is the traditional, rationalistic or expert
view” [48: p.1]. Its aim is to apply scientific – i.e., prescriptive – knowledge. It is
based on the assumption that the solution is contingent and could be optimal, and that
the intended effects will be accomplished as long as any prescriptions are followed
carefully, and the required conditions are met. Moldaschl and Brödner call this change
paradigm ‘instrumental rationality’. Downsides of this approach are well known: “It
ignores the role of actor strategies, overlooks social dynamics, and takes problems for
granted” [48: p.2].
The other dominant paradigm to change is the participative or discoursive approach.
Its aim is to involve all stakeholders in the process. The assumption behind this
thinking is that all relevant knowledge is tacitly present in the organisation, and only
has to be mined by effective communication. Examples of this approach are abundant
in the social sciences and generally are known as Action Research approaches, such as
Democratic Dialogue [49]. Downsides of this approach are according to Moldaschl
and Brödner: “First, the problem of power and interest in the relations of the actors
(…) between the practitioners as well as between scientists and practitioners. Second,
these approaches ignore the social role of criteria and the value of scientific
knowledge about good work and organisational rules. A ‘criterium-free’ application of
the participation principle creates severe risks for the employees” (48: p.2).
With respect to the concept of a ‘reflexive methodology of intervention’ Moldaschl
and Brödner propose an alternative to the dominating paradigms of organisational
intervention. Essentially, it is an alternative beyond, not a choice of one of these
paradigms. The search for a golden balance, the trial to combine the strong points of
both paradigms eclectically, would just multiply their contradictions. They define
reflexivity as: “A type of ‘enlightened’, self-critical rationality, aware of the limits of
rationality, particularly of instrumental rationality” [48: p.2].
Based on epistemological ideas and social theory, Moldaschl and Brödner
provisionally propose some heuristic principles [48: p.3]. A reflexive methodology of
organisational intervention:
a) Does not offer models of general problem solving or ‘best practice’;
uses and offers thinking in dilemmas: Seeing e.g. autonomy as a
problem, not as a solution,
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
17
b) Understands structures as ‘negotiated orders’,
c) Recommends institutional reflexivity instead of rationalistic
application of rules: Uses scenario techniques and recommends that to
the practitioners too; plays with being ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ at the
same time (e.g. mutual consulting; border crossing),
d) Facilitates in general: Self-application of perspectives, methods, and
theory,
e) Uses scientific knowledge in a reflective way: Design criteria and
models are used as means to augment the number of options for
practitioners, to overcome reality with alternatives. That means: To
induce and propose alternative models, values, etc.),
f) Accepts the legitimacy of practitioners’ perspectives and rationalities
and does not claim a superior scientific rationality; uses the
differences in perspectives as a methodology of intervention,
g) Understands any usable knowledge as contextualised, ‘situated’; takes
any explicit knowledge (also the scientific) as systematically limited;
understands practice as knowledge production, and knowledge
transfer from science to practice (e.g., consulting) as re-
contextualisation,
h) Sees also observation as an intervention; is aware that there is no
presence in the field without effects, and tries to analyse and utilise
the effects of being part of the analysed setting,
i) Is centred on the category of side effects; is aware that also ‘good
design’ can have negative effects and side effects (the way to hell is
paved with good intentions); thus, the scientist is cyclically evaluating
the (real) outcomes of his own interventions,
j) Has, therefore, an open process model with cyclical evaluation loops,
instead of linear phase models; process and outcome are seen as
undetermined,
k) Analyses recursive processes of the creation of artifacts and the
change of the context (e.g. the work processes) they are or have been
developed for,
l) Would not only or primarily follow scientifically objective design
criteria, but the idea, that the creation of technical artifacts is a
negotiation of commitments between working persons; artifacts and
the design process are understood as a social medium for that,
m) Is careful with language; e.g. does not use words like
‘implementation’.”
Systems designed for Far-From-Equilibrium (FFE) are more sustainable than those
caught up in the quest for stability. This seeming paradox makes us suspect another
fundamental assumption of the open systems thinker: The notion that the organisation
is intrinsically Equilibrium-seeking [50]. It is not. A chaordic enterprise is able to tap
its inherent capacity to self-organise to ever-higher orders of complexity and
coherence. This powerful drive to self-transcendence is virtually impossible in
Equilibrium (E), improbable when Near-To-Equilibrium (NTE), but altogether ripe
with potential in Far-From-Equilibrium (FFE) [3: p.56].
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
18
It must be stressed that in specifying and defining CST, neither uniqueness nor
completeness was intended. The framework is just one example among several others
that explains the new contours of a paradigm in some smaller or greater detail
(compare for instance [8] [51] [52]). CTS offers just a lens – a way of seeing – not
more than that. So you cannot ‘do’ CST to an organisation. On the other hand, this
way of seeing may inform subsequent actions, significantly.
4. CST and Organisational Novelty
As said in the beginning of this paper, we use CST not as a theory, but as a
particular way of looking at reality. So we use it as a world view, as the more
encompassing term. We see complexity as one among many specific characteristics of
whole systems. This position does not necessarily deviate from other important
contributions to the literature [51] [53] [54] [55]. They argue that complexity stands
for a field of study that penetrates many different disciplines: Biology, mathematics,
physics, cognition, computation, philosophy, medicine, psychology and human
organisation. According to Lissack and Roos complexity refers to “the collection of
scientific disciplines all of which are concerned with finding patterns among
collections of behaviours or phenomena. The field looks at patterns across a multitude
of scales in an effort to detect their ‘laws’ of pattern generation or ‘rules’ that explain
the patterns observed” [51:p.10]. However, as put forward earlier in this introduction,
we use Chaos as the more encompassing term, as a lens or world view.
We think that most complexity research may fit extremely well in CST, because it
builds on the same new set of assumptions. From that particular point of view we
cannot second Cilliers in his assertion that chaos and complexity “has little to do with
each other” [55: p.26]. This statement might be true for chaos and complexity viewed
as separate theories or fields, but not for CST as a lens, the way of thinking as we view
it [16: p.406]:
“Nevertheless, there is no argument that the great majority of managers and
practitioners are more readily conversant with its content than they would be with the
highly technical esoterica comprising the chaos theory, not to mention more
comfortable with the term itself. For many, the very mention of ‘chaos’ brings to mind
discomfiting images of anarchy, mayhem and confusion.
Our purpose in pointing out these distinctions is to disparage neither complexity nor
the chaos theory. Rather (...) the term complexity has been used herein in the more
general sense of an attribute of a phenomenon, specifically that of the chaordic
system. We recognize that this position deviates significantly from that of a number of
organisational theorists who argue that complexity should be accorded the status of a
science in its own right.”
Looking at CST more broadly as a paradigm, not as a theory but as a meta-theory,
makes it possible to create a common arena for dialogue and enables us to develop all
kinds of models and theories, based on the same set of new assumptions.
Consequently, we put into question the suggestion by Goldberg and Markóczy that
“chaos/complexity is not a challenge to traditional science, but instead constitutes
analytical tools allowing traditional science and modelling to be extended to domains
that were previously too difficult” [56: p.94] We don’t claim that traditional science is
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
19
useless, rather incomplete. We think that using the CST lens will produce quite a
different kind of knowledge for a different purpose: I.e., it produces integrated
knowledge about intact wholes – instead of fragmented knowledge about isolated
parts – not for predicting the future but for better understanding the present. Further,
we feel that managers and practitioners interested in CST can gain enormously from
stories about transformational change – for instance the creation of the first chaordic
organisation: VISA, the credit card organisation [10].
This brings us to the controversy about the use of metaphors versus scientific models
[57]. We feel that thinking CST definitely needs a metaphor in the first place, to make
it easier for managers and academics to leap towards a totally different kind of
thinking. However, we agree with Lissack et al. that one should not make it a habit to
use a mere metaphor or analogy as a substitute for more formal models and theory.
The development of scientific models is important to further explore the conditions in
which Emergence takes place. But we feel at the same time the risk that those models
do not take into account the richness of the whole situation. We like the idea of
Lissack et al. to use models not as predictors, but as ‘mediators’ [57]. To summarize,
we think that the use of a metaphor is important to let people play with the new way of
thinking. From the point of action research, we do not second the absolute premise
that CST or complexity should go beyond metaphor.
Another subject of reflection is consciousness. This CST property puts great
emphasis on non-observable phenomena (intentions and thoughts). Especially for
members of ‘normal science in Kuhn’s sense, this is the most controversial part of
Chaordic Systems Thinking. CST is stating that consciousness – used as a technical
term here – is not the sole prerequisite of humankind, but a property of all chaordic
systems. However, in the universe its presence is a matter of degree. In recent
literature on complexity any systematic studies of consciousness (i.e., the thinking
itself: mind and spirit) are almost lacking. For a welcomed, but rather modest
exception, see Juarrero [58]. From a holistic perspective, this deficiency is remarkable.
As Wilber [18] has explained, holons possess both an exterior and an interior domain.
Wilber [59] spent a whole study to close the gap between ‘sense and soul’, using the
scientific method. Surprisingly, in complexity literature any references to the
extensive oeuvre of this ‘new-science’ philosopher are absent. In our view this
circumstance hampers the development of a holistic approach.
Based on the CST property of consciousness it is hypothesised that people and groups
in organisations will materialise already available potentials of the system by the very
act of thinking (‘popping the quantum wave function’). This may be the essence of
self-organisation. According to Juarrero [58], time and context is of crucial
importance here. The process of self-organisation, defined by Cilliers [54: p.90 / 91)
as “an emergent property of complex systems which enables them to develop or
change internal structure spontaneously and adaptively in order to cope with, or
manipulate, their environment” will only become feasible from within the system,
originating from its interior. Based on the CST property of consciousness, any attempt
to deepen the mindfulness of an organisation by the development of both the
individual and organisational minds might be an appropriate preparation for
transformational change as an emergent. Further deepening of the organisational mind
can be stimulated by means of dialogue [60] [61]. Unlike the conventional means of
conversing in modern life, the objective of dialogue is to discover flaws and faulty
assumptions in one’s own thinking so they might be corrected. In a typical dialogue
process people are exploring their own thinking, to discover flaws in it, and to
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
20
discover the assumptions behind it. Being aware of these assumptions may trigger
individuals and groups to change them, which may unleash the organisation’s
potentials for transformation. Of course, this hypothesis has to be tested in practice
[62] [63].
Because of the inherent complexity, practising CST will seldom result in
generalised knowledge, applicable to a multitude of organisations. On the contrary,
CST might be case specific and might be most helpful for a company’s stakeholders to
better understand the complexity of their specific situation, and may inspire them to
create all sorts of unique solutions for their company. These inimitable choices –
based on a shared and deepened organisational mind – may help a company to climb
new peaks of competitive advantage in its fitness landscape.
For members of normal science the assertion that consciousness is not a unique
possession of humankind, but an intrinsic property of the universe and every chaordic
system contained therein, is by all means the most controversial implication of it.
Nevertheless, if one is to attain competence in CST, the fact that the difference in the
attribute known as consciousness between a person and another being or system, is a
matter of degree rather than kind.
We must take those who claim to be committed to ‘holism’ particularly in the
context of complexity to task in this regard given that systematic studies let alone
mention of consciousness are virtually lacking in the literature, except for the
welcomed, but rather modest exception of a book by Juarrero [58]. We find this
deficiency of attention to the what of CST deems the fundament of reality remarkable.
In his efforts to close the gap between matter and mind or what he calls respectively
‘sense and soul,’ Wilber [59] demonstrates that every holon (by definition an entity
that is both a whole in its own right, and part of a greater whole at the same time)
possesses both an exterior and an interior domain. This eminent philosopher goes on
to show that a truly holistic stance takes both realms into account. We believe that
unless and until students of the ‘new’ science evince an appreciation for the intangible
interiors of our systems, the development of a truly holistic approach to organisational
change will be hampered.
A next point of disputation is the so-called ‘theory-of-causality issue’. In a recent
series of books, Stacey et al.[64] explore different frameworks about causality. Central
to their approach is change and human choice. They distinguish between Natural Law,
Formative, Rationalist, Adaptionist and Transformative Teleologies. These ‘theories
of causality’ enable diverse arenas for change and human freedom of choice. For
Natural Law Teleology change is basically a repetition of the past, while human
choice is basically obeying natural laws: optimising mechanism. In Formative
Teleology change is the unfolding of a macro pattern, which is known in advance, and
in which there is no intrinsic human freedom. Rationalist Teleology recognises human
reasoning as the basic initiator of change, where human freedom is based on ethical
universals: design and apply. Transformative Teleology sees micro interactions –
forming and being formed by themselves – as potential ‘causes’ of change, and human
freedom of choice arises in spontaneity. Adaptionist Teleology defines change as
random variations in individual entities, filtered out for survival by natural selection,
while human freedom of choice occurs only by chance.
Based on this typology Stacey et al. [64: p.58] claim, that conventional Open Systems
Thinking contains a methodological error in the application of theories of causality
with respect to human functioning in organisations. The flaw is characterised as a
‘Kantian split’ between Rationalist and Formative frameworks:
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
21
“The way both of these teleologies are applied [in conventional Open
Systems Thinking] is as follows. Rationalist Teleology applies to the
choosing manager (theorist, researcher, decision-maker), from whom
the organisation is split off as a ‘thing’ to be understood. The
organisation, that which is to be explained and operated on, is then
regarded as an objective phenomenon outside the choosing manager
(theorist, researcher, decision-maker), equivalent to a natural
phenomenon, to which Natural Law or Formative Teleology can be
applied.”
So, the organisation is seen as an exterior object that can be controlled like a machine,
while the manager / designer sees her / himself as an intentional individual, actually
making the choices that are to be imposed on the system. This criticism of
conventional Open Systems Thinking is best summarized by the assertion that
freedom is solely located in the manager, whereas workers are supposed to follow.
According to Stacey et al. [64] thinking in terms of mechanisms or systems (efficient
cause as a feedback process) cannot be successful in explaining human freedom and
participation. They state that complexity theorists combine Transformative Teleology
with either Adaptionist or Rationalist Teleology. Stacey et al. [64: p.51] suggest to
avoid any split between causal frameworks in explaining human organisation:
“To summarise then, we will be arguing that any combination of the five
causal frameworks immediately implies the kind of split upon which the
dominant management discourse is built, particularly as it is influenced
by Systems Thinking. This move increases the risk that notions from the
complexity sciences will simply re-present the current discourse in a
new vocabulary. We will be arguing for the development of a
perspective from Transformative Teleology on its own. We see it as
encompassing other types of causality, not subordinated to, or in
combination with, any other in a “both / and” resolution of paradox.
This means a clear move away from the way Systems Thinking is
currently being used to understand human organisation.”
As a second point Stacey et al. [64] claim that conventional Systems Thinking
basically is unable to create novelty, because – in line with Formative Teleology – the
system’s ultimate goal already is known in advance. This is another fundamental
criticism of the dominant control paradigm.
Although we concur with Stacey and associates that previous system approaches
indeed suffered from a Kantian split, and are highly embedded in a control paradigm,
we think that the term ‘system’ as such is not fully obsolete yet, as long as it is seen as
a holon. Therefore, a methodological migration was suggested from Open Systems
Thinking to Chaordic Systems Thinking [2] [14].
We claim that CST will prevent any split between different frameworks of causality.
By the identification of the five chaordic properties conciousness, connectivity,
indeterminacy, dissipation and emergence we propagate in line with Stacey et al. [64]
the exclusive use of a Transformative Teleology. In that sense we speak of
organisational renewal or organisational novelty as transformation instead of re-
formation, the latter of which we will call improvement, see Table 2.
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
22
Table 2 Organisational Novelty as Contrasted with Organisational Improvement
_________________________________
Table 2 about here
_________________________________
By actually stressing the importance of the interior aspects of individuals and groups
we enable the development of dialogical relations between all human agents, in order
to develop the ‘orgmind.’ This process comes close to what Stacey [65] has called
‘Complex Responsive Processes of Relating.’
5. Some Statements for the Plenary Session of “Business Excellence ‘03”
In order to stimulate dialogue, the following five statements are put forward:
1. Chaos and order are not opposites from which to choose, but interpenetrated
aspects of the same reality, ergo cha-ordic [8] [13]. There is nothing to worry about
appreciating Chaos in the professional sense of the word.
2. Chaordic Systems Thinking is a way of thinking and subsequently, an approach to
designing a complex organisational system that recognises the enterprise not as a
fixed structure, but as ‘flow’ [4].
3. The control paradigm is not necessarily wrong, but rather incomplete.
Contemporary problems in the world of work, such as work intensity – which is
problem number one in Europe at the moment [66] – are not solvable using an
exclusive control paradigm [67].
4. Chaordic Systems Thinking transcends and includes Open Systems Thinking [14]
[16].
5. Applying a CST approach to an organisation may result in the development of its
‘organisational mind’ by introducing ‘dialogue’ as the basic mode of
communication [18] [62] [63].
6. In transformative change effectiveness is of higher importance than efficiency.
7. CST is combining both soft and hard issues, i.e., the ‘sense’ and ‘soul’ of an
organisation.
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
23
References
[1] Kira, M., From Good Work to Sustainable Development: Human Resources Consumption and
Regeneration in the Post-Bureaucratic Working Life, 2003, Stockholm: Royal Institute of
Technology, Ph.D. Thesis.
[2] Eijnatten, F.M. van (2000). From Intensive to Sustainable Work Systems: The Quest for a New
Paradigm of Work. Key note speech at the TUTB/SALTSA Conference “Working Without Limits: Re-
Organising Work and Reconsidering Workers’ Health.” Brussels: 25 Sept., World Wide Web:
http://www.etuc.org/tutb/uk/conference200062.html.
[3] Fitzgerald, L.A., Organisations and Other Things Fractal. A Primer on Chaos for Agents of Change.
1996a, Denver, CO: The Consultancy.
[4] Fitzgerald, L.A., & Eijnatten, F.M. van, Letting Go for Control: The Art of Managing in the Chaordic
Enterprise. International Journal of Business Transformation, Vol.1 (4), 1998, p.261-270.
[5] Fitzgerald & Van Eijnatten (Guest Editors). Chaos: Applications in Organisational Change. Journal
of Organisational Change Management (JOCM), 15 (4), 2002.
[6] Stacey, R.D., Griffin, R., & Shaw, P., Complexity and Management: Fad or Radical Challenge to
Systems Thinking? 2000, London: Routledge.
[7] Gleick, J., Chaos: The Making of a New Science. 1987, New York: Wiley / London: Heinemann.
[8] The Chaordic Alliance, 1998, World Wide Web: http://www.chaordic.com.
[9] Hock, D.W., The Chaordic Organisation: Out of Control and Into Order. 21st Century Learning Initi-
ative, 1996a, World Wide Web: http://www.cyberspace.com/~building/ofc_21clidhock.html.
[10] Hock, D.W., Birth of the Chaordic Age. 1999, San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler.
[11] Hock, D.W., The Birth of the Chaordic Century: Out of Control and Into Order (Extension as
Chaordic Organisation). Paper presented to the Extension National Leadership Conference, 1996b,
Washington, D.C., March 11.
[12] Fitzgerald, L.A., What is chaos? 1997a, WWW: http://www.orgmind.com/chaos/whatis.html.
[13] Fitzgerald, L.A., Chaos, the Lens that Transcends. Journal of Organisational Change Management
(JOCM), 15 (4), 2002, p. 339-358.
[14] Eijnatten, F.M. van, & Hoogerwerf, E.C., Searching for New Grounds: Beyond Open Systems
Thinking, in Graphity on the Long Wall, E. Coakes, R. Lloyd-Jones & D. Willis, Editors, The New
Sociotech: Graphity on the Long Wall. 2000, London: Springer-Verlag, Series Computer Supported
Co-operative Work (CSCW), p. 39-50.
[15] Eijnatten, F.M. van, Chaordic Systems for Holonic Organisational Renewal, in Research in Organis-
ational Change and Development, Vol. 13, W.A. Pasmore & R.W. Woodman, Editors. 2001, San
Francisco: JAI Press / Elsevier, p.213-251, World Wide Web:
http://www.elsevier.nl/inca/publications/store/6/2/2/4/3/4/index.htt.
[16] Fitzgerald, L.A., & Eijnatten, F.M. van, Reflections: Chaos in Organisational Change. Journal of
Organisational Change Management (JOCM), 15 (4), 2002, p. 402-411.
[17] Wilber, K., Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution. 1995, Boston: Shambhala.
[18] Wilber, K., A Brief History of Everything. 1996a, Dublin: Newleaf.
[19] Lorenz, E.N., Deterministic Non-periodic Flow. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 20 (2), 1963a,
p.130-141.
[20] Lorenz, E.N., The Mechanics of Vacillation. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 20 (2), 1963b,
p.448-464.
[21] Marchall, I., & Zohar, D. (1997). Who’s Afraid of Schrödinger’s Cat? The New Science Revealed:
Quantum Theory, Relativity, Chaos and the New Cosmology. 1997, London: Bloomsbury.
[22] Polley, D., Turbulence in Organisations: New Metaphors for Organisational Research. Organisation
Science, 8 (5), 1997, p.445-457.
[23] Cambel, A.B., Applied Chaos Theory: A Paradigm for Complexity. 1993, Boston: Academic Press /
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
[24] Eijnatten, F.M. van, & Fitzgerald, L.A., Designing the Chaordic Enterprise: 21st Century Organisatio-
nal Architectures That Drive Systemic Self-Transcendence. Paper presented at the 14th EGOS Col-
loquium. 1998, Maastricht, Netherlands, July 9-11.
[25] Dilts, R., NLP and Self-Organisation Theory. 1998, Santa Cruz, CA: World Wide Web:
http://www.nlpu.com/Articles/artic23.htm.
[26] Priesmeyer, H.R., Organisations and Chaos: Defining the Methods of Non-Linear Management.
1992, Westport, Connecticut: Quorum.
[27] Giddens, A., Central problems in Social Theory. 1979, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
[28] Jorna, R.J., Heusden, B. van, & Posner, R., Editors, Signs, Search and Communication: Semiotic
Aspects of Artificial Intelligence. 1993, Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
[29] Wilber, K., Eye to Eye: The Quest for a New Paradigm. 1996b, Boston, MA: Shambala.
[30] Zohar, D., The quantum Self: Human Nature and Consciousness Defined by the New Physics.
1990, New York: Quill / William Morrow.
[31] Peters, J., & Wetzels, R., Niets Nieuws Onder de Zon en Andere Toevalligheden.
Strategieontwikkeling door Contextmanagement (Nothing New Under the Sun and Other
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
24
Coincidences: Strategy Development by Context Management). 1998, Amsterdam: Contact (in
Dutch).
[32] Fitzgerald, L.A., Chaordic System Properties, Classical Assumptions and the Chaos Principle.
1996b, Denver, CO: The Consultancy.
[33] Fitzgerald, L.A., What in the World is the Matter with Systems Thinking? A Critique of Modern Sys-
tems Theory and the Practice of ‘Systems Thinking’ It Informs, in: Readings of the STS Roundtable,
Seattle, Washington, Oct. 21-24, T. Chase, Editor, 1997b, Northwood, NH: STS Roundtable, p.41-
48.
[34] Fitzgerald, L.A. (1999). Chaordic System Properties Chart. Denver, CO: The Consultancy. World
Wide Web: http://www.orgmind.com/chaos/propchart.html.
[35] Hannon, P.D., & Atherton, A.M., Small Firm Success and the Art of Orienteering: The Value of
Plans, Planning, and Strategic Awareness in the Competitive Small Firm, in E. Lefebvre, & R.
Cooper, Editors, Proceedings Hasselt Conference on Uncertainty, Knowledge and Skill. 1997a,
Diepenbeek: Limburg University / Keele University, 7-8 November.
[36] Freebourne, W., Pathfinder Workbook. 2003, World Wide Web: http://www.www.career-
counseling.com/rep.htm.
[37] Holmes, L.L., Peak Evolution: Beyond Peak Performance and Peak Experience. 2001, Toronto,
Ontario, Canada:Naturality.Net LLC. Distributor: Bridgewater, NJ: Baker & Taylor.
[38] Crossan, M.M., Lane, H.W., White, R.E., & Klus, L., The Improvising Organisation: Where Planning
Meets Opportunity. Organisational Dynamics, Spring, 1996, p.20-35.
[39] Markides, C., Strategic Innovation in Established Companies. Sloan Management Review, Spring,
1998, p.31-42.
[40] Koestler, A., The Ghost in the Machine. 1967, London: Hutchinson.
[41] Koestler, A., Janus: A Summing Up. 1978, London: Hutchinson.
[42] Hannon, P.D., & Atherton, A.M., The Practice of Building Strategic Awareness Capability in
Entrepreneurial Small Firms, in: Proceedings Hasselt Conference on Uncertainty, Knowledge and
Skill, E. Lefebvre, & R. Cooper, Editors. 1997b, Diepenbeek, Belgium: Limburg University / Keele
University, 7-8 November.
[43] Tsoukas, H., Reading Organisations: Uncertainty, Complexity, Narrativity, in: Proceedings Hasselt
Conference on Uncertainty, Knowledge and Skill, E. Lefebvre, & R. Cooper, Editors. 1997,
Diepenbeek, Belgium: Limburg University / Keele University, 7-8 November.
[44] Marcic, D., Managing with the Wisdom of Love: Uncovering Virtue in People and Organisations.
1997, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
[45] Ashford, B.E., & Humphrey, R.H., Emotion in the Workplace: A Reappraisal. Human Relations, 48
(2), 1995, p.97-125.
[46] Gerard, G, & Ellinor, L., Dialogue: Something Old, Something New; Dialogue Contrasted with Dis-
cussion. 1999, World Wide Web: http://www.sonic.net/dialogroup/whatsdialogue.html.
[47] Backström, T, Eijnatten, F.M. van, & Kira, M., A Complexity Perspective on Sustainable Work
Systems, in: Creating Sustainable Work Systems: Emerging Perspectives and Practice, Docherty,
P., Forslin, J., & Shani, A.B., Editors. 2002, London: Routledge, p.65-75. World Wide Web:
https://ecommerce.tandf.co.uk/catalogue/DetailedDisplay.asp?ISBN=0415285763&ResourceCentre
=ROUTLEDGE&RedirectPage=PerformSearch%2Easp&curpage=1.
[48] Moldaschl, M.F., & Brödner, P., A Reflexive Methodology of Intervention. 2000, Stockholm: SALTSA
/ SWS Research Group,Internal Work Document Technische Universität München; Institut für Arbeit
und Technik, Gelsenkirchen, June.
[49] Gustavsen, B., Dialogue and Development: Theory of Communication, Action Research and the
Restructuring of Working Life. 1992, Assen / Stockholm: Van Gorcum / The Swedish Center for
Working Life.
[50] Stacey, R.D., The Science of Complexity: An Alternative Perspective for Strategic Change
Processes. Strategic Management Journal, 16, 1995, p.477-495.
[51] Lissack, M., & Roos, J., The Next Common Sense: Mastering Corporate Complexity Through
Coherence. 1999, London: Nicholas Brealey.
[52] Gharajedaghi, J., Systems Thinking: Managing Chaos and Complexity. A Platform for Designing
Business Architecture. 1999, Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann.
[53] Kauffman, S.A., At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organisation and
Complexity. 1995, New York: Oxford University Press.
[54] Cilliers, P., Complexity and Postmodernism: Understanding Complex Systems. 1999, London:
Roudledge.
[55] Cilliers, P., What Can We Learn from a Theory of Complexity? Emergence, 2 (1), 2000, p.23-33.
[56] Goldberg, J., & Markóczy, L., Complex Rhetoric and Simple Games. Emergence, 2 (1), 2000, p.72-
100.
[57] Lissack, M. Boisot, M., McKelvey, B., Rivkin, J., Dooley, K., & Cohen, M., Past / Future, Research /
Practice, Science / Metaphor: Does Research Add Value to Management Practice? The Complexity
Perspective. Panel Presentation, Academy of Management, 2000, Toronto, August 8.
[58] Juarrero, A., Dynamics in Action: Intentional Behaviour as a Complex System. 1999, Cambridge,
Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
25
[59] Wilber, K., The marriage of sense and soul: Integrating science and religion. 1998. New York:
Broadway.
[60] Bohm, D., Unfolding Meaning: A Weekend of Dialogue with David Bohm. 1987, London: Ark
Paperbacks.
[61] Ellinor, L., & Gerard, G., Creating and Sustaining Collaborative Partnerships at Work: Dialogue,
Rediscover the Transforming Power of Conversation. 1998, New York: John Wiley.
[62] Eijnatten, F.M. van, & Galen, M.C. van (2002a). The Dolphin Attractor: Dialogue for Emergent New
Order in a Dutch Manufacturing Firm. International Scientific Journal of Methods for and Models of
Complexity (ISJ M & MC), 5 (1) June, Special Issue on Chaos Theory, C.J. van Dijkum & D.J.
DeTombe, Guest Editors, World Wide Web: http://www.fss.uu.nl/ms/cvd/isj/.
[63] Eijnatten, F.M. van, & Galen, M. van (2002b). Chaos, Dialogue and the Dolphin’s Strategy. Journal
of Organizational Change Management (JOCM), 15 (4), 391-401, special issue: “Chaos, Applic-
ations in Organizational Change”, Fitzgerald, L.A., & Eijnatten, F.M. van, Guest Editors, WWW:
http://www.emeraldinsight.com/vl=1/cl=2/nw=1/rpsv/cw/www/mcb/09534814/v15n4/contp1-1.htm.
[64] Stacey, R.D., Griffin, R., & Shaw, P. (2000). Complexity and Management: Fad or Radical
Challenge to Systems Thinking? 2000, London: Routledge.
[65] Stacey, R.D., Complex Responsive Processes in Organisations: Learning and Knowledge Creation.
2001, London: Routledge.
[66] Eijnatten, F.M. van, From Intensive to Sustainable Work Systems: The Quest for a New Paradigm of
Work. Key-Note Speech at the TUTB/SALTSA Conference “Working Without Limits: Re-Organising
Work and Reconsidering Workers’ Health.” 2000, Brussels: 25 Sept., World Wide Web:
http://www.etuc.org/tutb/uk/conference200062.html.
[67] Eijnatten, F.M. van, & Vos, J.-P., Tautologies of Work Life Balance. Paper Presented at the Annual
Meeting of the SUSTAIN Network, Madrid, Escuela Tecnica Superior de Ingenieros Industriales,
Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, 2002, Madrid, Spain, Sept. 13, World Wide Web:
http://www.chaosforum.com/nieuws/index_eng.html.
References of Other Contributions to this Conference
[68] Backström, T., & Eijnatten, F.M. van, Persistent At-tractors in Organisational Change. European
Chaos and Complexity in Organisations Network (EC-CON), Paper to Business Excellence ’03.
[69] Eijnatten, F.M. van, & Wäfler, T., Chaordic Systems Thinking as a Basin for Organisational Novelty.
Eu-ropean Chaos and Complexity in Organisations Network (ECCON), Paper to Business Excell-
ence ’03.
[70] Eijnatten, F.M. van, & Galen, M.C. van, Towards Organisational Bifurcation? Navigating and Path
Finding Using Dialogue. European Chaos and Complexity in Organisations Network (ECCON),
Paper to Business Excellence ’03.
© April 2003 by FVE BETA Research Institute, TU/e Eindhoven, The Netherlands
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
26
Biographical Note
Frans M. van Eijnatten, Ph.D., is Associate Professor at the Institute for Business
Engineering and Technology Application (BETA) at the Faculty of Technology
Management, at Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands. His main
research interest is Socio-Technical Systems Design, an ambition he has pursued by
initiating and co-ordinating Ph.D. design-oriented action research projects in R&D and
information systems design. He produced several English-language reviews on the
subject as well as a comprehensive bibliography of the paradigm [1].
Currently, Dr. Van Eijnatten is both lecturing and publishing about the implications of
Chaos and Complexity Theory for Socio-Technical Systems Design and
organisational renewal (i.e. Chaordic Systems Thinking). He founded the European
Chaos and Complexity Network ECCON, and participated in several European-
Union-funded research and development programs (4th and 5th Framework: Esprit,
Brite-EuRam, IST, IMS).
For example, he has carried out research by participating in the EU-sponsored 4th
Framework Program Thematic Network “Workspace,” in which architects,
management scientists, consultants and facility managers, from major business
schools and leading companies, intensively worked together on the development of an
integrated approach to the design of workspace, for more than three years.
Participants of this multi-disciplinary research come from six West-European
countries. The project combines both a scientific approach and pragmatic
considerations, at the same time. The result is an innovative approach to the design of
workspace (flexible offices and factories) that gained both from new insights in
science and industrial management practices. It is an attempt to combine work
organisation, architectural design of the building, lay-out planning, facility
management, organisational renewal, and management decision making, into an
overall and integrated approach to the design of workspace [2].
He was involved in the management and execution of a 5th Framework European IST-
project called “Participative Simulation environment for Integral Manufacturing
enterprise renewal” (PSIM), that is about IT-supported organisational renewal
modelled as a computer game. The project is part of HUMACS (“Organisational
Aspects of Human-Machine Co-existing System”), a multi-regional project within the
global IMS (“Intelligent Manufacturing Systems”) program, that brings together both
scientists and industries from Japan, Europe and the United States [3].
Dr. Van Eijnatten is the co-ordinator of ECCON, and a member of the European
SUSTAIN network. For more information see: http://www.chaosforum.com.
Bibliographical Notes
[71] Eijnatten, F.M. van, The paradigm that changed the workplace. 1993, Assen / Stockholm: Van
Gorcum / Arbetslivscentrum, http://www.niwl.se/wais/new/7/7413.htm.
[72] Eijnatten, F.M. van, & Keizer, J.A. An inductive model for holographic decision making in
industrial workspace design. International Journal of Management & Decision Making, in press.
[72] Eijnatten, F.M. van, Editor. PSIM: Participative Simulation environment for Integral
Manufacturing enterprise renewal. 2002, Hoofddorp, The Netherlands: TNO Arbeid/The PSIM
Consortium/Tokyo, Japan: IMS/HUMACS Consortium, CD-Rom, March 2002,
http://www.arbeid.tno.nl/en/research_consultancy/healthy_and_productive_work_processes/psim/
psim_publications.html.
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
27
Figures, Tables and Boxes
Complexity
Limits to Growth
E x
Complexity
Level x+1
Time
NTE
x+1 FC x
FFE xNTE x
Complexity
Level x
E
x+1
Figure 1 Chaordic Systems Thinking: Discontinuous Growth Curve
Legend: Bifurcation Point
E = Equilibrium
NTE = Near To Equilibrium
FFE = Far From Equilibrium
FC = Fatal Chaos
see Figure 3
First International Conference on Performance Measures, Benchmarking and Best Practices in New
Economy, University of Minho, Guimaraes, Portugal, June 10-13, 2003
Plenary Session “Business Excellence ‘03”
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
28
U
Un
ns
st
ta
ab
bl
le
e
S
St
ta
at
te
e
2
2
U
Un
ns
st
ta
ab
bl
le
e
S
St
ta
at
te
e
1
1
H
Ho
ol
lo
on
n
Attractor
Basin 1
Attractor
Basin 2
J
Ju
um
mp
pi
in
ng
g
P
Pr
ro
oc
ce
es
ss
s
S
St
ta
ab
bl
le
e
S
St
ta
at
te
e
2
2
S
St
ta
ab
bl
le
e
S
St
ta
at
te
e
1
1
Fitness Landsca
p
e
Figure 2 An Illustration of anAttractor Basin’ andFitness Landscape’. After [25]
First International Conference on Performance Measures, Benchmarking and Best Practices in New
Economy, University of Minho, Guimaraes, Portugal, June 10-13, 2003
Plenary Session “Business Excellence ‘03”
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
29
Self-iterative Fractal Pattern
Complexity Level 4
Complexity Level 3
Complexity Level 2
Complexity Level 1
Complexity Level 5
Complexity
Time
Figure 3 Chaordic Systems Thinking: The Fractal Dimension of Growth
Legend: Bifurcation Point
see Figure 1
First International Conference on Performance Measures, Benchmarking and Best Practices in New
Economy, University of Minho, Guimaraes, Portugal, June 10-13, 2003
Plenary Session “Business Excellence ‘03”
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
30
T
Ti
im
me
e
C
Co
om
mp
pl
le
ex
xi
it
ty
y
I
I
I
II
II
I
t1 t2
I
II
I
I
IV
V
O
Ol
ld
d
T
Th
hi
in
nk
ki
in
ng
g
S
St
tr
ro
on
ng
g
S
Si
ig
gn
na
al
l
N
Ne
ew
w
T
Th
hi
in
nk
ki
in
ng
g
W
We
ea
ak
k
S
Si
ig
gn
na
al
l
t3
Figure 4 Non-Linear Development: The ‘Cross in the Chaos’. After [31]
Legend: = Bifurcation Point
I = Old Thinking, Old Doing
II = Old Thinking, New doing
III = New Thinking, Old Doing
IV = New Thinking, New Doing
t1 – t3 = Three Crucial Moments in the Transformation Process
First International Conference on Performance Measures, Benchmarking and Best Practices in New
Economy, University of Minho, Guimaraes, Portugal, June 10-13, 2003
Plenary Session “Business Excellence ‘03”
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
31
Holon
Self-Transcendence
Complexity Level 5
Complexity Level 4
Com
p
lexit
y
Level 3
Complexity Level 2
Complexity Level 1
Complexity Level 0
Self-Dissolution
Figure 5 Chaordic Systems Thinking: Holonic Development at Various Levels of
Complexity
First International Conference on Performance Measures, Benchmarking and Best Practices in New
Economy, University of Minho, Guimaraes, Portugal, June 10-13, 2003
Plenary Session “Business Excellence ‘03”
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
32
T
TH
HE
EY
Y
I
In
nt
te
er
ri
io
or
r
E
Ex
xt
te
er
ri
io
or
r
Individual
M
ME
E
U
US
S
Y
YO
OU
U
C
Co
ol
ll
le
ec
ct
ti
iv
ve
e
Figure 6 Holonic Development, Illustrated in Wilber’s Quadrant. After [29]
Legend: ME = Intentional holarchy
YOU = Behavioural holarchy
US = Cultural holarchy
THEY = Social holarchy
First International Conference on Performance Measures, Benchmarking and Best Practices in New
Economy, University of Minho, Guimaraes, Portugal, June 10-13, 2003
Plenary Session “Business Excellence ‘03”
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
33
Figure 7 Chaordic Systems Thinking: Wilber’s Quadrants. After [18]
Legend: = Dimension of Development VC = Validity Claim
Behavioural
Holarchy
E
Ex
xt
te
er
ri
io
or
r
E
Em
mp
pi
ir
ri
ic
ca
al
l
Intentional
Holarchy
I
In
nt
te
er
ri
io
or
r
I
In
nt
te
er
rp
pr
re
et
ta
at
ti
iv
ve
e
Social
Holarchy
Cultural
Holarchy
W
U
Us
We
e
C
Co
ol
ll
le
ec
ct
ti
iv
ve
e
M
Mi
in
nd
d
C
Co
ol
ll
le
ec
ct
ti
iv
ve
e
M
Mi
in
nd
d
I
In
nd
di
iv
vi
id
du
ua
al
l
VC = Functional Fi
t
VC = Truthfulness
T
Th
he
ey
y
Y
Yo
ou
u
M
Me
e
s
I
In
nd
di
iv
vi
id
du
ua
al
l
M
Mi
in
nd
d
C
Co
ol
ll
le
ec
ct
ti
iv
ve
e
VC = Pro
p
ositional Truth
VC = Justness
First International Conference on Performance Measures, Benchmarking and Best Practices in New
Economy, University of Minho, Guimaraes, Portugal, June 10-13, 2003
Plenary Session “Business Excellence ‘03”
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
34
Table 2 Nine Distinctions Between Dialogue and Discussion
After [33] [61]
Dialogue
Seeing the whole among the parts,
Seeing the connections,
Further inquiring into ones own
assumptions,
Creating shared meaning among many,
Listening deeply together without
resistance,
Release of the need for specific
outcomes,
A slower pace with silences in between,
Learning through inquiry and
disclosure,
Divergent.
Discussion
Breaking issues or problems into parts,
Making distinctions,
Justifying / defending ones own
assumptions,
Gaining agreement on one single
meaning,
Preparing to pose better arguments,
Aiming at conclusions or decisions,
Continuous flashing battle of
arguments,
Persuading, selling, telling,
Converging.
First International Conference on Performance Measures, Benchmarking and Best Practices in New
Economy, University of Minho, Guimaraes, Portugal, June 10-13, 2003
Plenary Session “Business Excellence ‘03”
F.M. van Eijnatten – CST: Chaos and Complexity to Explain Human Performance Management
____________________________________________________________________________
35
Table 2 Organisational Novelty as Contrasted with Organisational Improvement and
Renewal
Real
Novelty
Goal
Known
Unknown
Known Unknown
Path
Improvement
or
Optimisation
‘Renewal’
‘Renewal’
First International Conference on Performance Measures, Benchmarking and Best Practices in New
Economy, University of Minho, Guimaraes, Portugal, June 10-13, 2003
Plenary Session “Business Excellence ‘03”
... Langton (1989) and Kauffman (1993) have used the same principles to enhance understanding of cell behaviour and population ecology. Despite the momentum of Complexity Theory (CT), it has no universally accepted definition (van Eijnatten, 2004;McMillan, 2006). Heylighen (1999) criticised this: ...
... The common misunderstanding in self-organisation concept is the belief that there is no role for managers or leaders in self-organised networks/teams (Foerster, 1984;Mahmud, 2009). This belief stems from the traditional Newtonian paradigm that proposes that leaders'/management's role in organisations is limited to maintaining equilibrium/stability (Foerster, 1984;Mahmud, 2009;van Eijnatten, 2004). However, in reality, each individual can potentially be agent of change, i.e. considered the catalysts and cultivators of self-organising process (Foerster, 1984;Mahmud, 2009;Stacey, 1996;Stacey, 2010). ...
... Foerster, 1984;Mahmud, 2009). This belief stems from the traditional Newtonian paradigm which proposes that leaders'/management's role in organisations is limited to maintaining equilibrium/stability (Foerster, 1984;Mahmud, 2009;van Eijnatten, 2004). This is because projects are viewed as hierarchical, rational, static and formally (contractually) governed systems. ...
Conference Paper
Managing large infrastructure projects remains a thorny issue in theory and practice. This is mainly due to their increasingly interconnected, interdependent, multilateral, nonlinear, unpredictable, uncontrollable, and rapidly changing nature. This study is an attempt to demystify the key issues to the management of large construction projects, arguing that these projects are delivered through networks that evolve in ways that we do not sufficiently understand as yet. The theoretical framework of this study is grounded in Complexity Theory; a theory resulted in a paradigm shift when it was first introduced to project management post-2000 but is yet to be unpacked in its full potential. The original contribution of the study is predicated on perceiving large construction projects as evolving complex systems that involves a high degree of self‐organisation. This is a process that transitions contractually static prescribed roles to dynamic network roles, comprising individuals exchanging information. Furthermore, by placing great emphasis upon informal communications, this study demonstrates how self-organising networks can be married with Complexity Theory. This approach has the potential to make bedfellows around the concept of managing networks within a context of managing projects; a concept that is not always recognised, especially in project management. With the help of social network analysis, two snapshots from Bank Station Capacity Upgrade Project Network were analysed as a case study. Findings suggest that relationships and hence network structures in large construction projects exhibit small-world topology, underlined by a high degree of sparseness and clustering. These are distinct structural properties of self-organising networks. Evidence challenges the theorisation about self-organisation which largely assumes positive outcomes and suggests that self-organising could open up opportunities yet also create constraints. This helps to provide further insights into complexity and the treatment of uncertainty in large projects. The study concludes with detailed recommendations for research and practice.
... De plus, nous ferons un survol des études ethnographiques qui ont été utilisées dans le secteur de la construction (Rooke, Seymour et al. 2004, Thiel 2007, Moore 2013, Thiel 2013, Löwstedt 2015, Grosse 2018) puisque leur méthode s'apparente souvent à celles utilisées par les études portant sur la SAP. Bien que l'essentiel des textes ethnographiques soit issu de l'industrie suédoise, britannique et australienne, leurs analyses méritent qu'on s'y arrête. ...
... De plus, l'importance des réseaux sociaux informels est aussi soulignée. C'est, selon lui, cette nature informelle de l'industrie qui moule les normes de chantiers, le recrutement de la main-d'oeuvre et les arrangements contractuels entre les diverses parties prenantes (Thiel 2013). Par ailleurs, l'auteur amène un bémol important sur l'apport méthodologique de l'ethnographie dans cette industrie. ...
... Il affirme que la vue culturelle d'ensemble, via l'ethnographie participative, est très difficile puisque les entreprises de construction travaillent sur un produit fragmenté, avec plusieurs acteurs, ayant tous des apports culturels différents. Par contre, il souligne que cela aurait été impossible de bien comprendre l'univers des travailleurs s'il n'avait pas mis les pieds sur un chantier (Thiel 2013). ...
Thesis
Full-text available
L’objectif de ce mémoire est de comprendre comment se structure la stratégie dans une entreprise spécialisée en bordures et trottoirs. Pour ce faire, nous mobilisons le cadre conceptuel de la stratégie comme pratique pour répondre à la question suivante : comment les dirigeants, les travailleurs et les acteurs de l’environnement contribuent-ils à la structuration de la stratégie dans une entreprise spécialisée dans la construction de trottoirs? Nous avons utilisé trois outils méthodologiques, dont l’autoethnographie, basée sur 17 mois de participation dans une entreprise de ce secteur d’affaires. Des entrevues semi-dirigées nous ont permis de mieux cerner les motifs derrière l’action des dirigeants, tout comme notre journal de bord a permis de dégager certains éléments incontournables chez les travailleurs. Grâce à notre immersion sur le terrain, nous avons fait le choix d’utiliser un angle d’analyse fondée sur la culture impliquant les artéfacts, les valeurs, les croyances ainsi que l’archétype du fondateur de l’entreprise. De plus, l’historique de l’entreprise permet de contextualiser ces éléments. Notre analyse nous a permis de voir que les entrepreneurs observés appliquaient surtout des tactiques stratégiques, basées sur les opérations, sans nécessairement faire de la stratégie d’entreprise dans le sens classique du terme. Pour répondre à notre question de recherche, nous affirmons que la stratégie serait issue d’une « négociation implicite et constante » entre les valeurs et les croyances des travailleurs et celles des entrepreneurs. Plus largement, les conjonctures industrielles ont aussi un impact sur la structuration de la stratégie dans ces entreprises bien que cela doit être considéré sur un horizon temporel plus large. Le mémoire fait aussi état de réflexions quant à l’importance des recherches dans le secteur de la construction et, plus spécifiquement, en ce qui concerne les ressources humaines et le développement organisationnel pour mieux comprendre la structuration de la stratégie
... Wicked problem management (WPM) requires knowledge representations suitable to identify and pursue the common good, and skill sets and attitudes required to form this knowledge and act accordingly [7,21,34]. Knowledge representations consist in conceptual models of problem scenarios, formed through meaning-making and suitable to drive decision-making and action. These models should be holistic, representing circumstances starting from global phenomena, and then modelling parts (human beings included) and interactions that might cause them, or be affected by them [11]. ...
... Overall, these should promote a disposition to look after people, non-human beings and the broader environment, in the short and long term; and the confidence in the ability to act meaningfully to pursue the common good, even though this means constantly facing and adapting to circumstances that cannot be controlled [11,21,33]. Skill sets are cognitive and practical capabilities suitable to explore and transform problem scenarios, through engaging in purposeful interactions with relevant actors and environmental elements involved in them [7,17,34]. Altogether, the function of attitudes, skill sets and knowledge representations can be conceptualized as a form-inform-transform schema, whereby their interplay serves to (i) form new or revised knowledge representations, through continuous exploration of the problem situation and relevant environmental feedback; (ii) inform definition of goals and plans through these knowledge representations; and (iii) transform a problem situation based on set goals and plans. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
We live in a complex world, in which our existence is defined by forces that we cannot fully comprehend, predict, nor control. This is the world of wicked problems, of which the situation triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic is a notable example. Wicked problems are complex scenarios defined by the interplay of multiple environmental, social and economic factors. They are everchanging, and largely unpredictable and uncontrollable. As a consequence, wicked problems cannot be definitively solved through traditional problem-solving approaches. Instead, they should be iteratively managed, recognizing and valuing our connectedness with each other and the environment, and engaging in joint thinking and action to identify and pursue the common good. Serious games can be key to foster wicked problem management abilities. To this end, they should engage players in collective activities set in contexts simulating real-world wicked problem scenarios. These should require the continuous interpretation of changing circumstances to identify and pursue shared goals, promoting the development of knowledge, attitudes and skill sets relevant to tackle real-world situations. In this paper we outline the nature, implications and challenges of wicked problems, highlighting why games should be leveraged to foster wicked problem management abilities. Then, we propose a theory-based framework to support the design of games for this purpose.
... However, we finish this idea by recognizing that engineering is a Design with constraints in a dynamic and complex context. This admits that engineering, part of the Design and made by humans, is dependent on individual and collective consciences, internal and external, as shows the holonic development proposal by [3]. ...
Article
Full-text available
The paper addresses the question: what is engineering? We intuitively know engineering applications such as manufacturing, production, industry, management, business. The answer is not consensual because it is not easy. Furthermore, the ontological question brings us to a second question. What distinguishes engineering from other areas? It is the creative ability that distinguishes engineering. And this artificial faculty only exists in Design. Epistemology in science promotes the existence of herds, increasingly specialized groups of knowledge production. Nevertheless, engineers assume themselves as makers, and in the growing diversity promoted by specialization, they will certainly give different answers when asked about their work. We aggregate all of them as sign-makers. Therefore, engineering is Design and only Design. We reject other views. The argument presented on the phenomenological level considers them false. This paper demonstrates that it is mandatory to create a distinctive sign, which places engineering as relevant in organizations. Without the sign described in semiotics, engineering, which could pretend to be everything, becomes trivial.
...  Creative design, from which true novelty emerges. It is rare because the goal and the path to reach it are broadly unknown in advance [20]. It requires a process of renewal, transformative rather than reformative, that promotes originality rather than innovation. ...
Article
Full-text available
The design process is unrepeatable, dynamic, fluid, and dependent on the context mood. It is part of an ever-changing social system. The purpose of design is to create, to bring out solutions to regulate the increasing complexity of social, economic, environmental, and cultural systems. Blending science and art, the designer chooses from several hypotheses, deconstructs reality, and rebuilds it. This paper presents several perspectives about design, which inevitably converge on complex thinking. In addition to depending on the designer’s creativity, the entire context surrounding the creative process conditions the design. A designed world determines it. Thus, design is the result of synthesis rather than analysis. We can and must use science, but practice defines the outcome. Creativity, from complexity thinking, results from a reflective practice capable of discarding the useless and creating the new.
... [7] These features, together with more detailed features of CST, are critical for design of the new engineering design organizational and management approach. All these features, of the systems' complexity and CST, are well presented in a number of references, especially in [6], [8], [9]. A CST based system, has the capacity for creation of true novelty, whether novel products or novel technologies. ...
Article
Full-text available
A contribution to the definition of Collaborative Engineering (ColE), together with the definition itself, are presented. The need for a more rigorous definition is due to the fact that the Collaborative Engineering (ColE) definitions in literature within the so-called “classical” discourse in fact could be reduced to the Concurrent Engineering (CE), making synonymy between the two terms. However, the need for distinguishing the semantic contents of the two terms and concepts, Collaborative Engineering and Concurrent Engineering, could be understood to be driven mainly by new, emergent, organizational and management concepts that refer to new features required for the engineering design organizational and management approaches. The two new, emerging theories and paradigms, that inform design and practice of new, emerging engineering design theories, approaches and practices, and based on which the definition of the Collaborative Engineering is proposed are the complexity theory and semiotics, in particular the complexity management in organizations and organizational semiotics.
... • leadership and management theory that includes participation of workers ); • job design theory (e.g., Karasek & Theorell, 1990); • socio-technical system (e.g., Huczynski & Buchanan, 2007); • chaordic systems theory (e.g., Hock, 1999;van Eijnatten, 2004); • multidimensional critical human resource management theory (Jabbour & Santos, 2008); • social exchange theory (Blau, 1964); • work ability theory (Ilmarinen, 2001); • conservation of resources theory (Hobfoll, 2001); • learning theory (Edwards, 2005); • (lifespan) motivation theory (Deci, Ryan, & Guay, 2013;Heckhausen, Wrosch, & Schulz, 2010;Kanfer & Ackerman, 2004); and • job crafting theory (Wrzesniewski & Dutton, 2001). ...
Article
Social value in the built environment refers to the social impact any organisation, project or program in that industry makes to the lives of the stakeholders affected by its activities. Social value is a national/ organisation level practical vehicle for realising the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is particularly relevant in the context of the continued increase in the global development of the built environment through construction and infrastructure projects involving many different stakeholders. We examine clients’, consultant, local authority, and contractors’ social value organisational learning journeys and reveal how they have transformed their systems towards more sustainable production. We also show how their efforts collectively align to achieve social value and thus realise the SDGs beyond what any individual project or initiative would be able to deliver alone. We present a transformative case study of social value in practice, which has a partnership model at its heart, and the potential to inform future methodologies for business and community engagement to improve social outcomes. We demonstrate the considerable organisational learning effort that is made with the aim to achieve a variety of SDGs through a value-based approach to business and interorganisational relations. In our work, it is the contractors who play a central role in bringing together the different influences and managing agency-structure interplay within this social practice. The partnership approach explored in this paper offers a way to ensure more efficient use of resources in the hugely important development of the built environment.
Article
The paper discusses prospects of the paradigm shift and proposes the learning organization concept as the technology for the implementation of the learning socioeconomic paradigm. The learning socioeconomic concept can be described as an overarching business model or a paradigm, providing governing principles regarding interests of major stakeholders. The proposed learning organization structure-behaviour platform can be analysed from the organizational and individual perspective. The proposed concept based on the learning organization premises can contribute to the development of the social democratic process and welfare so the main social challenge within the learning framework becomes stimulating positive manifestations of cooperation and complexity as well as increasing behavioural variety as a means of fighting entropy. The paper therefore represents an attempt to provide a descriptive and normative guidance for developing a model for modern business making in terms of personal growth, business excellence and social inclusiveness and sustainability.
Article
Full-text available
This conceptual contribution is about a new framework for explaining human performance management under turbulent conditions, which was based on the Chaos lens. The following general concepts are described: Discontinuous growth curve, attractors and their basins, holons and holonic development, dialogue, sustainable work systems, organisational novelty, the chaordic properties of consciousness, connectivity, indeterminacy, dissipation and emergence, orienteering and path finding, individual and organisational mind, Wilber's quadrants, and holonic potential. The paper concludes with some statements for the plenary session of "Business Excellence '03". For some applications, see (68) (69) (70). Principal Keywords: performance_measures. Object / Function Keywords: adaptive_system(s), chaos_ theory, complex_systems, complexity, connectivity, creativity, culture, organisational_change, reflective_ learning, socio-technical infrastructures. Application Area Keywords: company, management, networked organisations, social organisations. ECCON 2003.
Book
This volume contains a selection of papers presented at the conference: Expert Systems, Culture and Semiotics. The conference was held in Groningen in December 12-15, 1990 and was jointly organized by the Faculty of Management and Organization and the Faculty of Arts of the University of Groningen with the cooperation of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (de Koninklijke Nederlandse Academie voor Wetenschappen), the International Association for Semiotic Studies (IASS) and the Nederlandse Vereniging voor Semiotiek (NVvS). © 1993 by Walter de Gruyter & Co., D-1000 Berlin 30. All rights reserved.
Article
Compared to new companies or niche players, established companies find it difficult to innovate strategically - to reconceptualize what the business is ail about and, as a result, to play the game in an existing business in a dramatically different way. Drawing on examples of highly profitable companies in diverse industries, the author explains how long-time players can overcome the four chief obstacles to strategic innovation. 1. Inertia of success. Strategic innovators monitor their strategic health for early signals of trouble and are willing, if necessary, to abandon the status clue for the uncertainty of change. These companies also work to convince employees that current performance is good but not good enough. They develop a new challenge to galvanize the organization into active thinking, and they expend significant lime and effort selling the challenge to everyone. 2. Uncertainty about what to change into. Strategic innovators challenge their dominant way of thinking and shift emphasis away from determining Row they need to compete toward questioning who their customers are and what they really want. They institutionalize a questioning altitude and find ways io shake up the system every few years. 3. Uncertainty surrounding new strategic positions. Ar a given time, a company does not know which idea will succeed and which core competencies will be essential. Successful strategic innovators follow the model of capitalism: they create internal variety, even at the expense of efficiency, and allow the outside market to decide the winners and losers. 4. The challenges of implementation. Successful companies set UP a Separate organizational unit to support a new strategic innovation find create a context that supports integration between different units within the company. in managing the transition from the old to the new, they let the two systems coexist but gradually allocate resources to the new so that it grows at the expense of the old. For established companies, the challenge of strategic innovation is organizational: developing a culture that questions current success while promoting experimentation. mentation. Strong leadership is essential in creating that culture. Only those companies that: strive for self-renewal, the author argues, will succeed in the long term.
Article
Self-organization theory is a branch of systems theory that relates to the process of order formation in complex dynamic systems. Drawing from the fields of cybernetics and gestalt psychology, self organization theory offers a new paradigm for perception and change. Many of the most recent and significant developments in self organization theory (especially those related to applied psychology) have been spearheaded by Dr. Peter Kruse at the University of Bremen, in Germany. Paradoxically, self-organization theory arose from the study of chaos. Scientists studying chaos (the absence of order) noticed that when enough complexly interacting elements were brought together, rather than create chaos, order seemed to 'spontaneously' form as a result of the interaction. In our nervous system, for instance, self-organizing processes are thought to be the result of massive associative connections between our nerve cells. These associations are thought to be established and elaborated according to the 'Hebb' rule. Hebb was a Nobel prize winning neurologist that discovered if two interconnected neurons in a similar state respond simultaneously, their connection is strengthened. In other words, rather than a 'beaten path' established by physical force, the strength of the associative connections between the parts of our brain and nervous system is determined by a kind 'rapport' between the nerve cells. [The Hebb rule may even be at the root of the basic strategy for establishing rapport in NLP, which involves the 'mirroring' of another person's behavioral or cognitive patterns.] Rather than being robotically controlled by external 'stimuli' which produce mindless, reflexive reactions (as in the models of Pavlov, Skinner and the Behaviorists), self organizing systems organize their own behavior in relation to certain focal points in their environment. According to 'self-organization' theory, order in an interconnected system of elements arises around what are called 'attractors', which help to create and hold stable patterns within the system. These attractors form a kind of 'landscape' that shape and determine patterns of interaction within the system. Figure 1 illustrates a simple landscape made of two 'attractors', represented as two valleys or 'basins'. If one imagines that the ball shown in the diagram is able to move over the landscape, it is easy to visualize how the bottoms of the valleys would make a very stable location for the ball. The ridge where the ball is sitting, however, would be a very unstable location. If the ball were resting at the bottom of one of these valleys, it would take much more energy to move it to a new location than it would if the starting state of the ball were in the unstable location.