Monday, July 16, 2007

More on Otto Scharmer’s Theory U (Part I)

This time, I am reading slowly. It is not because the new book of Otto Scharmer is hard too read, the opposite is true. It is very fascinating because one can see the practical applications of this new theory emerge. It’s just that I am too much distracted. I have just mastered 80 pages! More...


  1. Well, yes, I am surely looking forward to more insights into Scharmer's book.

    For the moment I am not sure whether I like his systematization of complexity, e.g. why differentiate dynamic and emergent complexity ... when the last is also characterized by dynamic change (of emergent patterns ...)

    One might even argue (dogmatically) that there are no static complex systems ...

    Just my two cents,
    kind regards from Stuttgart, Martin Koser

  2. I tend to agree with Martin's scepticism about the usefulness of trying to identify different dimensions or categories of complexity in organizations.

    I have also found Stacey's agreement-certainty 'framework' useful in the past. It has helped managers to escape from a wholly rational mindset and to recognize the need to engage with the self-organizing and emergent dynamics of everyday organizational life.

    However, I don't think that Stacey would talk about the challenges of change and complexity in these terms today. The notion of complex responsive processes, which he and others at the University of Hertfordshire's Complexity and Management Centre have developed over recent years, now provides the centrepiece of their current writing and practice on organizational dynamics. This emphasizes their felt need to work wholly in "the living present" of current interactions. As a result, they tend to shy away from the use of management models, which they view as abstractions - and distractions from people's lived experience. They also now use complexity thinking as a source of analogy for human interaction, rather than arguing that organizations are complex systems.

    Although I take a different view on the usefulness of models and frameworks (as argued in informal_coalitions/2006/11/ facilitating_se.html, for example) I agree with those in the 'Stacey school' that change takes place in the moment of everyday conversations and interactions. As these patterns of conversations change, so does the organization.