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Organize for Complexity: How to Get Life Back Into Work to Build the High-Performance Organization

Abstract

A book about complexity and work - and about how to deal productively with both. A condensed introduction to the theory and practice of organizational high performance. A manifesto for contemporary leadership and profound transformation in organizations of all kinds.
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... This takes shape of a new network, that as such is an alternative type of organisation to the typical hierarchic chart, and is capable of producing more value. In the recent years, this idea is being treated from different organizational perspectives (Wenger, 2002;Martinez, 2012;Pflaeging, 2014;Laloux, 2014;Figueroa, 2016 In general, everyone wants to work collaboratively, but at the same time everyone complains it is so hard to work in transversal structures. To help overcoming it, there are techniques, methods and tools to make it easier. ...
... This is the typical chart organization, with management levels, and people "inside boxes" (units or departments). Pflaeging (2014) refers to it as the "alfa" model. However, as society needs change or grow continuously, this structure proofs to be unable to deliver innovation, exploration or reaction to new problems in an efficient, effective and/or sustainable manner. ...
... But through technology innovation, many of those tasks might tend to disappear. The collaborative communities model experienced by UPC with the Nexus24 project can be the seed for creating the complementary alternative that those institutions need, the "beta" model (Pflaeging, 2014). In the beta side, people work through projects, bottom-up initiatives that grow organically and self-managed by sensing the tensions in the organization and the needs of users. ...
... In this context, participation and empowerment gain an even higher significance, as they are perceived as critical ingredients to manage complexity (e.g. Gray (2012), Pflaeging (2014), Große and Tillmanns-Estorf (2018), Schüller and Steffen (2019)). "Empowerment is often seen as a tool to motivate people. ...
... However, this introduced three systemic gaps: a social gap, caused by topdown management, a functional gap, that makes divisions interdependent and requires additional coordination and a time gap between planning and execution. (Pflaeging 2014) Taylors concepts to drive efficiency for simple manual labor tasks were successful for creating standardized products in mass-markets with little competition. His management principles were applied outside the mass production context and influence many managerial practices today (Pflaeging 2014, p. 4). ...
... The divided and the connected company (Gray 2012) Function to cross-functional teams(Pflaeging 2014) ...
Thesis
Full-text available
Establishing a corporate participation capability, the ability to involve all employees and managers in change, design and decision-making processes with agile and collaborative methods has been identified as essential for digital transformation initiatives. For companies with a traditional hierarchical culture, it is not intuitive to leverage participation. This thesis tried to answer the question of how traditional hierarchical conditioned companies can establish a participation capability with a particular focus on the cultural aspects of this topic. For this, it identified success factors and principles for participation along different organizational dimensions based on academic research, recent management literature, and organizational frameworks. Based on the results a detailed process is designed that should have the potency to grow a culture of participation. The process was tested in a three-month experiment at an IT-technology vendor in Germany and the vendor-specific results and findings are discussed. The results of the experiment led to the conclusion that the proposed process can be an effective driver for a participatory corporate culture and employee satisfaction.
... This takes shape of a new network, that as such is an alternative type of organisation to the typical hierarchic chart, and is capable of producing more value. In the recent years, this idea is being treated from different organizational perspectives (Wenger, 2002;Martinez, 2012;Pflaeging, 2014;Laloux, 2014;Figueroa, 2016 In general, everyone wants to work collaboratively, but at the same time everyone complains it is so hard to work in transversal structures. To help overcoming it, there are techniques, methods and tools to make it easier. ...
... This is the typical chart organization, with management levels, and people "inside boxes" (units or departments). Pflaeging (2014) refers to it as the "alfa" model. However, as society needs change or grow continuously, this structure proofs to be unable to deliver innovation, exploration or reaction to new problems in an efficient, effective and/or sustainable manner. ...
... But through technology innovation, many of those tasks might tend to disappear. The collaborative communities model experienced by UPC with the Nexus24 project can be the seed for creating the complementary alternative that those institutions need, the "beta" model (Pflaeging, 2014). In the beta side, people work through projects, bottom-up initiatives that grow organically and self-managed by sensing the tensions in the organization and the needs of users. ...
Book
Once upon a time, more specifically during medieval time, universities were meant to be the places for teaching and shaping the elite administrators’ class of the regnant in charge. With the industrial revolution, professors were asked to improve the efficiency of the machines and the new production systems. During the Second World War, academia was the tool fostering technological innovation. In recent times, Richard Florida outlined a new University role in nurturing the rampant “creative class”, while John Scott recalled the needed postmodern shift of the university missions from teaching to research as a tool for public service mission, and Henry Etzkowitz designed a triple helix cluster which should blend the boundaries between university—industry—government. In this global competition and increasing pressures, the front is populated by some of the universities reported in this book. Visions, strategies, policies and action plans, brave management programmes, new interdisciplinary and cross-cutting committees, bottom-up governance structures and green teams, advanced IT system for energy management, are some of the strategies here reported from the front. While pursuing the emerging “third mission”, all initiatives described in the chapters also reveal a common, underlying, higher aspiration – to untangle and test how universities can help the localities and societies in which they stand to transition towards carbon neutrality, societal sustainability and resilience to climate change.
... This takes shape of a new network, that as such is an alternative type of organisation to the typical hierarchic chart, and is capable of producing more value. In the recent years, this idea is being treated from different organizational perspectives (Wenger, 2002;Martinez, 2012;Pflaeging, 2014;Laloux, 2014;Figueroa, 2016 In general, everyone wants to work collaboratively, but at the same time everyone complains it is so hard to work in transversal structures. To help overcoming it, there are techniques, methods and tools to make it easier. ...
... This is the typical chart organization, with management levels, and people "inside boxes" (units or departments). Pflaeging (2014) refers to it as the "alfa" model. However, as society needs change or grow continuously, this structure proofs to be unable to deliver innovation, exploration or reaction to new problems in an efficient, effective and/or sustainable manner. ...
... But through technology innovation, many of those tasks might tend to disappear. The collaborative communities model experienced by UPC with the Nexus24 project can be the seed for creating the complementary alternative that those institutions need, the "beta" model (Pflaeging, 2014). In the beta side, people work through projects, bottom-up initiatives that grow organically and self-managed by sensing the tensions in the organization and the needs of users. ...
... The value creation structure is inevitably networked, as is the informal structure. All value creation flows from the inside out: from teams in the center, to teams in the periphery, to market (see Organize for Complexity 3 ). Value creation structures can be mapped as networks of cells, which contain functionally integrated teams and which are interrelated by value flow, pay and communication relationships. ...
Article
Full-text available
All organizations possess three structures to solve their inescapable problems of compliance, of social interaction, and of value creation. Within OrgPhysics, the value creation structure is the only one of the three structures through which performance can be produced, and value-creating work can unfold. At the same time, different than formal structure and informal structure, the value creation structure and its particular form are usually overlooked and little understood in academia as in practice. In organizations today, the value creation structure is often ignored and usually crippled by steering, siloed divisions and top-down command-and-control. Since the dawn of the industrial age, we have imagined our organizations as piles or pyramids of boxes stacked upon one another. This notion of organizing defies reality. OrgPhysics liberates us from a limited understanding of organizational design and strategy. The limitations of conventional organizational chart thinking blind us to the three-fold nature of organizational reality and structure. In this age of complexity, it is now time to turn organizations outside-in by putting value creation structure first. We need new language and distinctions based on the three leaderships in order to grasp constructive ways of strengthening value creation and of achieving robust, high performance.
Chapter
Organizations today are facing a complex environment that challenges them in many ways. This causes organizations to consider new approaches of organizing and of the way people collaborate, in general and particularly in projectsProject. Concepts of self-organizationSelf-organization are often used unconsciously, e.g., in the contextContext of agileAgileproject managementProject management approaches. This chapter therefore prepares the topic fundamentally, points out essential backgrounds, drivers, and approaches of self-organizationSelf-organization in projectsProject with their impact on individuals, projectProjectteamsTeams, and the ambient organization. The effects of more self-organizationSelf-organization in projectsProject are promising according to the pertinent literature. For example, individuals can develop passion in what they do through more freedom for self-actualization. Diversified projectProjectteamsTeams can achieve peak performance through emergenceEmergence as well, helping organizations become more adaptable and resilient to the ever-changing contextContext they are operating in. However, this requires a departure from the traditional principles of an organization, including moving away from the principle of hierarchy and empowering employees to work voluntarily and self-determined.
Article
Context ‘Complexity’ is fast becoming a ‘god term’ in medical education, but little is known about how scholars in the field apply complexity science to the exploration of education phenomena. Complexity science presents both opportunities and challenges to those wishing to adopt its approaches in their research, and debates about its application in the field have emerged. However, these debates have tended towards a reductive characterisation of complexity versus simplicity. We argue that a more productive discussion centres on the multiplicity of complexity orientations, with their diverse disciplinary roots, concepts and terminologies. We discuss this multiplicity and use it to explore how medical education researchers have taken up complexity science in prominent journals in the field. Methods We synthesised the health sciences and medical education literature based on 46 papers published in the last 18 years (2000–2017) to describe the patterns of use of complexity science in medical education and to consider the consequences of those patterns for our ability to advance scholarly conversations about ‘complex’ phenomena in our field. Results We identified four patterns in the use of complexity science in medical education research. Firstly, complexity science is described in a variety of ways. Secondly, multiple approaches to complexity are used in combination in single papers. Thirdly, the type of complexity science used tends to be left implicit. Fourthly, the complexity orientation used is much more commonly located using secondary source citation rather than primary source citation. Conclusions The presence of these four patterns begs the question: Do medical education scholars understand that there are multiple legitimate orientations to complexity science, deriving from distinct disciplinary origins, drawing on different metaphors and serving distinct purposes? If we do not understand this, a cascade of potential consequences awaits. We may assume that complexity science is singular in that there is only one way to do it. This assumption may cause us to perceive our way as the ‘right’ way and to disregard other approaches as illegitimate. However, this perception of illegitimacy may limit our ability to enter into productive dialogue about our complexity science‐inspired research.
Article
Full-text available
A common use of systems thinking (ST) is for guiding our practices of systems making (SM). One style of ST for SM centers on making designs with deterministic rules, as in the hard sciences, for guiding engineered applications. Another style mimics natural development, with a process by stepwise learning and improvisation to produce evolving designs; examples including architectural design, scientific research, and the practice of action research (AR). All these use exploratory pathfinding to search for better ways to work with reality, and this is the main subject of the paper. Both deterministic and adaptive ST for SM are widely found in differing roles, each having capabilities the other lacks. I start with simple models, such as step-wise improvisation for adapting recipes when making dinner. Another example is Robert Rosen’s model for how scientific and other cultures learn to work with nature, by turning attention back and forth between nature and theory for creating their cultural language. A review of the modern history of the systems sciences, as practices of ST for SM, then further broadens the view and context. That leads to introducing a new paradigm of natural systems thinking (NST), using commitments to critical awareness, emancipation, and methodological pluralism for working with natural systems.
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