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"Experiencing emergence, emerging experience" - Donald MacLean

  Donald engaged us in an activity in which we experienced an emerging pattern – mingling and picking a person then drawing closer proximity to them. Over time, the system settles into a pattern!   He encouraged us to consider that rules are the boundaries of the system, they are the edge of the container. If you use the rules, you’re in the system. The challenge is to help articulate the deep structure that is diving patterns. A key challenge is how to surface answers to questions such as: what are the rule? What are the patterns they create? What boundaries do they define?   Every emergent system, whether it be musical improv or dance, has a discipline. The discipline is critically important, it defines the process of how we craft our plan for interaction, the reality of the activity, how we experiment, and then how we make sense of that experimentation. We felt this in our opening activity! Along the we each person receives feedback. Negative feedback is information that drives a system back to a predetermined state. Positive feedback drives a system forward, away from predetermined states. In many ways this is how we manage the emergence.   His early worked looked at how these systems work. His turn recently has been to understand what these systems mean for the participants?   As we engage in emergence, we experience three important connected states:   Emerging intention: the continual renegotiated process of sense of purposes which evolve. Social identity: along the way we negotiate who we are, through conversation and dialogue Embodied expression: the More »

Leadership of emergence: How to generate new order? Benyamin Lichtenstein

He provoked us to consider four phases that occur when we create the conditions of emergence, each with leadership behaviors:   Dis-equilibrium organizing: pushing the system into a new pattern of action, outside of its norm. The leaders recognizes that it demands new energy from those involved.   Amplifying action: In which leaders encourage experiments and new ideas. This causes stress and intensity in members.  I wonder: Is the stress at multiple levels – cognitive, identity, process, etc.? How might we connect ideas from Michael Hogg and social identity theory to help navigate the uncertainty.   Recombination and self-organization: Leaders support the rearrangement of resources and components in order to generate new capacity.   Stabilizing feedback and resilience: leaders formalize and integrate new processes.   I wonder: at what level are these phases experienced by members? Are they objective or subjective? How unified or coherent are they experienced at various levels.       I think: what strikes me is that this process is happening a different levels of analysis – macro (systems), meso (groups), micro (individuals). And the evidence of emergence and the tools may be different at the different levels. A leader must understand how emergence is occurring simultaneously at various levels and acting to support at all levels. More »

Poeisis & Squirrels: How Leaders bring new forms into being. Donald MacLean

Donald noted that there are three areas that focus on the micro-level of emergence: at the people level. Reframing order-generating rules: This can be business related rules and/or cultural rules. Creating far-from-equilibrium conditions Managing positive feedback. These areas are important and fairly tricky because often we get caught in the deliberateness vs emergent debate.   Deliberateness is an emergent phenomenon. The more interesting question is how interconnected and unpredictable do we allow things to be? When we desire more connection and new forms to emerge, what is required of the humans involved? Two views on human activities is rationalism (ends-means-conditions) and cultural theory (values, identity). A third way is an creative action– how we are continually engaging and shaping our relationships and our identity.   Creative action points to areas such as emerging intention (how we negotiate them with others), embodied expression (our intuition, ideas), and social identity. This is a poesies approach – a stance that allows new forms to emerge. To navigate this people engage in a variety of practices, such as storytelling and performance. They focus on striking moments. Working upstream rather than focus on down-stream and the past.   To move in this direction, we need to let go over many assumptions and practices. We need to stop dehumanization of practices and ideas. Stop over social and under social versions of ourselves. Move into cultures that are more rooted in place, connected to the community. Focus on creativity and cooperation.   The focus is not just one “is this working” but more on “what does it mean to More »

October 2017 -Unlearning for Emergence in Organizations: Faculty

October 2017 -Unlearning for Emergence in Organizations: FacultyDonald MacLean (University of Glasgow) and Benyamin Lichtenstein will be the two Guest Faculty members at the October 2017 LILA gathering focused on Unlearning for Emergence in Organizations. During this gathering we will explore questions such as: We will address such questions as: 1. What is emergence and how does it differ from other forms of change? 2. What shifts in knowledge and mindset are needed to understand emergence as a viable and valuable part of the organizational change process? 3. What are the practices and protocols that enable the organization and its members to sense, learn, and recombine to adapt to signals surfacing in the extended ecosystem, the organization, and its surroundings? 4. What types of leadership and organizational practices are necessary for engaging with emergence in ways that harness the adaptive potential at the core of this dynamic while honoring deeper shared purposes and intentions at the core of organizational missions? 5. What challenges do leaders and others face as they engage emergence with the intent of shaping a more adaptive future? More »

2017 LILA Theme Announced: Emergence In Organizations

2017 LILA Theme Announced:  Emergence In OrganizationsWe live in a transformative time—one where old paradigms no longer help us solve the challenges we face and where new ways have not fully evolved. There is much we do not know about how to perceive, understand, and approach the issues we face. In past years, LILA has embraced themes addressing this dilemma, such as Unlearning, Managing Complexity, and Adaptive Cultures. For the coming year, we outline another such theme, one that directly engages organizational structure, structuring, and practices in the context of continuous change and distributed activity: Emergence in Organizations. More »

 

 

Our Current Focus

  1. LILA Theme for 2016-2017 Announced

    Every year, the LILA community focuses on a particular theme of interest to members that will help them advance their thinking regarding the initiatives they are leading in their organizations. The 2016-2017 theme is Adaptive Cultures: How Institutions Set the Conditions for Success.

  2. Managing Complexity – How Organizations Navigate Strategic paradoxes

    Managing Complexity – How organizations navigate strategic paradoxes Dynamic work environments are complex and the changing conditions of ambiguity, uncertainty, conflicting goals, contradictory messages, and competing perspectives create barriers to effective performance. We are asked to take a long-term view and to make short-term decisions that increase profits. We are asked to learn new things and to perform at highest levels. We need to innovate and to operate in predictable ways. We oscillate between centralized and decentralized operational structures. We organize work closely for control and want people to show initiative and self-organize. We encourage collective identity and reward individual...

  3. Last Year’s Focus

    The starting point for our exploration of flexpertise was recognition of the incredible power of expertise. Our world runs on expertise – technical, political, economic, management, etc. Any one of us can live a good life knowing only a little about microcircuits or international finance or water shortages because other people know a lot, and we benefit from their knowledge. Departments in organizations can get away with knowing only a bit about X or Y because some other department or an outsourcer does it expertly. It’s a wonderful and amazing system. However, as individuals and organizations, we often don’t make...

What’s New

  1. LILA Thematic Arc for 2017-2018 Announced: Emergence in Organizations: Shaping the future as it unfolds

    Emergence in Organizations: Shaping the future as it unfolds We live in a transformative time – one where often, old paradigms no longer help us solve the challenges we face and where new ways have not fully evolved. There is much we do not know about how to perceive, understand, and approach the issues we face. In past years, LILA has embraced themes addressing this dilemma, themes such as Unlearning, Managing Complexity, and Adaptive Cultures. For the coming year we outline another such theme, one that directly engages organizational structure and structuring in the context of continuous change and distributed...

  2. The social structure of cultural change: Damon Centola

    A dominant theory cultural norms are functional, but Damon provoked us to consider that there are cases in which norms are not functional at all, and can even be dysfunctional. Conformity norms stifle speaking up, for example which is seen in the Emperor’s New Clothes story and Stalin’s Russia. Such norms often comes from some sense of exogenous authority that dictate a behavior (political science), or sense of what is better (behavioral economics), or snow-ball effects of what’s popular (sociology). But all of these explanations assume there is awareness of all these things and they are valuable in some way....

  3. Where the tipping point missed the point

    Damon Centola’s work unpacked assumptions in networks that related to how ideas/behavior spread through networks via “strong vs. weak” ties.  For many years, and argued well in Gladwell’s Tipping Point, the belief was that all ideas spread like viruses through networks. Daemon’s work points out that what is important is the distinction between simple contagions (ideas/actions that requires a single contact) vs complex contagions (ideas/actions that require multiple contacts and social reinforcement). Many cultural practices require social reinforcement, particularly when there is uncertainty & risk, run against norms, or interdependence with other technologies. What is important to know is how complex...

  4. Why tightness is terrible and terrific

    Michele Galfand’s work in social psychology explores how micro changes in behaviors connect to larger shifts in values in cultures? Her work has looked the effect of social norms across cultures. Her concept is that there are qualitative differences in tight groups (with strong norms, litter tolerance for deviance, more orderly) vs. loose groups (weak norms, high tolerance for deviance, less orderly). Her research showed that tight groups coordinate well amidst threats of survival, both human made (e.g. tribal conflicts) and natural (e.g. natural disasters).  Tightness can be activated, too, by real of natural threats. And the situations, such as libraries...

  5. What We Learned About Unlearning To Learn

    This brief represents the culmination of our year of exploring the theme of unlearning to learn together. Over the course of the year, we have explored how we can best define, understand, and foster unlearning. Unlearning is learning to think, behave, or perceive differently, when there are already beliefs, behaviors, or assumptions in place (that get in the way), at either the individual or the organizational level. It becomes important when individuals, groups, and whole organizations have to find ways to effectively support change, overwrite old habits, surface and supplant entrenched ways of thinking, and develop new ways of working...

  6. Journal of Workplace Learning Publishes LILA Research on Informal Learning Conversations

    Informal learning conversations with colleagues is a powerful yet understudied source of self-directed, professional development. This study investigated the types of learning 79 leaders from 22 organizations reported they learned from 44 peer-led conversations over a two-year period. Survey data suggests empirical evidence of five learning outcomes – informational, conceptual, operational, reflective, and social learning. The study describes these categories, the overall distribution of these types of learning in the community, and how most conversations were “rich” in a particular outcome. It concludes with possible explanations for these patterns as well as potential lines for future research.

  7. Leaders as Problem Finders

    The LILA Community explored the Problem Finding Organization. Michael Roberto shared his finding that leaders at all levels must hone their skills as problem-finders to identify and correct problems and prevent catastrophe.

  8. Critical Knowledge Transfer by Dorothy Leonard

    As you may recall, Dorothy Leonard who is the William J.Abernathy Professor of Business Administration Emerita at Harvard
    Business School joined the LILA Community during the last several years as part of her research into the recently published book "Critical Knowledge Transfer." It is based on original research, numerous interviews with top managers,and a wide range of corporate examples, When highly skilled subject matter experts, engineers, and managers leave their organizations, they take with them years of hard-earned experience-based knowledge—much of it undocumented and irreplaceable. Organizations can thereby lose a good part of their competitive advantage.

  9. The Emotional Decision Maker

    A revolution in the science of emotion has emerged in the last few decades, with the potential to create a paradigm shift in thinking about decision theories. The research reveals that emotions constitute powerful, pervasive, and predictable drivers of decision making. Across different domains, important regularities appear in the mechanisms through which emotions influence judgments and choices. The present paper organizes and analyzes what has been learned from the past 35 years of work on emotion and decision making. It also proposes an integrated model of decision making that accounts for both traditional (rational-choice theory) inputs and emotional inputs, synthesizing scientific findings to date.

Upcoming LILA Events

  • September 21, 2017 Member Call on September 21, 2017 @12:00 pm
  • October 2017 on October 24, 2017
  • November 16, 2017 Member Call on November 16, 2017 @12:00 pm
  • December 14, 2017 Member Call on December 14, 2017 @12:00 pm
  • January 11, 2018 Member Call on January 11, 2018 @12:00 pm
  • February 2018 on February 7, 2018
  • March 21, 2018 Member Call on March 21, 2018 @12:00 pm
  • April 2018 on April 18, 2018
  • May 24, 2018 Member Call on May 24, 2018 @12:00 pm

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Harvard Graduate School of Education