Last weekend I spent a day going through my old London Business School notes before throwing them out to make room. Its 21 years since I did my Sloan Fellowship, so this stuff is bound to be out of date.
Still, I skim-read quite a bit of it – lecture notes, my coursework, case studies – along the way, and I was struck by how much of it still resonated, especially an extract from ‘Leadership and The New Science’ by Margaret Wheatley, entitled “Change, Stability, and Renewal: The Paradoxes of Self-Organising Systems“
According to Ms Wheatley, that’s not at all surprising. One of the characteristics of a self-organising system (e.g. a human being) is that “as it changes, it does so by referring to itself [autopoietically]; whatever future form it takes will be consistent with its already established identity”, “when the environment demands a new response, there is a reference point for change.”
For a business that reference point is it’s Promise of Value. The more clearly and explicitly that is spelt out, and built into the way a business works, the more resilient that business will be – not because it won’t change, but because changes will always be adopted in a way that is consistent with that Promise.
As long as the system is self-organising, that is. More on that tomorrow.