The science of valuing chaos in organisations

By Martin Vogel

A fractal

Book review: Leadership and the New Science by Margaret Wheatley

Between the mysterious, almost inconceivable science of quantum physics and the mundane experience of working in a large organisation it would be hard to think of realms that are further apart. So Leadership and the New Science, by Margaret Wheatley, which seeks to apply insights derived from contemporary science to organisational life, is a book I approached with some scepticism. What possible relevance to the world of work could be found in the fundamental science of how matter functions below the level of the atom or how everything in the universe is inter-connected? These seem such big and incomprehensible questions that daily life is able to get along just fine without reference to them.

Reading the book, though, I soon realised that it was precisely because my thinking was shaped by the insights of traditional science that I couldn’t see the relevance of looking at quantum mechanics. If the world is more complex and mysterious than traditional science described, why is management still drawing on analogies informed by eighteenth and nineteenth century concepts. Might not organisations be more complex and mysterious than traditional management theory describes? By the time I’d finished the book, I had the impression that it had come about half a century too late.

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Meeting behaviour in a recession

By Martin Vogel

difficult meeting

As a practitioner in medialand, I learned the value of creative behaviours – ways to open up thinking and new ideas in order to develop better products.  I particularly admired a book called Sticky Wisdom by ?What If!, a group of consultants who – while challenged with punctuation – cut through the fog regarding innovation.  Sticky Wisdom demonstrates that creativity needn’t be the preserve of a particularly talented cadre of employees.  It can be cultivated through techniques and exercises to encourage freshness of thinking, open mindedness, and a determination to incubate abstract proposals to tangible reality.

The book seems to point to a more attractive way of being in organisations.  It provides ways to challenge the bureaucratic reflex which closes down ideas with criticism before they have even had a chance to develop, and it shows how to facilitate behaviours which display respect to one another.  So it is perhaps not surprising that organisations have drawn on creative behaviours and tried to apply them more widely.  As a freelance consultant, I have been struck to find the ?What If! model and others like it being adopted as templates for meeting behaviours in general.

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The meaning of cycle rage

By Martin Vogel

Cyclist, Theobald’s Road

My trusted advisor tells me my blog posts are “very eclectic”.  I don’t thinks she intends this as positive feedback.  She’ll be unimpressed, then, by this tangent into the world of cycling.  Bear with me.  It’s a tale of incivility, self-delusion and reluctance to accept responsibility.  An exploration, if you will, of the banes of modern life.

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