Using The Complexity Science Aids Leaders Business Essay

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The "New Economy" plan, which raises so much interest in Europe, is not simply a new way of doing business but it is accompanied by new management methods that make manageable system. The variability of the market, the short life of the technologies to characterize as the New Economy is raising very complex problems difficult to handle with a usual type of management board but need a different approach. This new management approach has been developed in recent years in the U.S. by a new science, Science of Complexity. The major U.S. management consulting firm as example, Andersen, McKinsey, leading technology companies such as America Online, Motorola, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems, Boeing, multinationals such as Ford, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Toyota are all involved in the development of this new type of management. The development of Microsoft, Monsanto's transformation from a chemical industry giant Biotechnology and the renovation of one of the largest banking groups in America, Citicorp, are only some of the many successful examples of this new type of management in the United States (Ahmed, Elgazzar & Hegazi, 2005).


The Science of Complexity is born in the 60 studies on computer model simulation of the meteorology of the globe. During these studies it was found that changes minimum initial weather conditions could result in huge differences in climate after some time.  The discovery of these and other unexpected behaviour, combined with other existing observations in the air for some time in many branches of science, has catalyzed the birth of this science (Becker & Sims, 2001).

The Science of Complexity is a general science that is applicable in virtually all fields of human knowledge such as physics, chemistry, biology, medicine and even in fields such as economics, sociology and psychology. The transformation of the motion of a fluid linear turbulent behaviour of certain chemical reactions or biological ecosystems, the fibrillation of the heart, the trend of stock prices, conflict and decision making are all examples of phenomena that can be studied successfully by the Science of Complexity. The science of complexity studies shows how such a system can be highly disordered in certain conditions spontaneously develop organizational systems that can adapt environment around them. The Science of Complexity is also considering the conditions processing systems arranged in chaotic systems (chaos theory) (Lorenz, 1993). Beyond the numerous academic studies conducted particularly in the U.S. in this field under the impulse of a foundation created for this purpose in the late 80's, the Santa Fe Institute, in the last ten years have been developed, mainly in the USA, practical applications in the field of management based on the principles of the Science of Complexity . The central point of management of complexity is the definition and description of the CAS (Complex System Adaptive) (Colander, 2000).

Complex System Adaptive

The CSA has the ability to adapt to its environment to pursue their goals. It may to be many things, such as a company, a multinational, a stock market, a hospital, Internet, an industrial district, a technological innovation. It is the object of management of complexity. The CSA can be another CSA at home and at the same time be an element of a larger CSA.

The CSA is composed of a system of individuals or agents or actors who have freedom to act in a manner not totally predictable and whose actions are interconnected so that some action of an agent to influence the actions of other agents. For example, in the case of a stock market actors are the sellers, buyers, companies and organizations listed market regulation. In the CSA each actor operates on its own strategies and models mental, they can be shared with other players or be individual. The behaviour of CSA shows an interaction between the actors and is typically nonlinear. Big Changes can be absorbed without major consequences, while small changes can cause major renovations. The characteristics of the CSA make it virtually its unpredictable evolution. However, in some cases, we can identify cyclic behaviour and situations specifications that allow for some predictability in short-term and long term exactly as we can predict the weather or season changes. Some types of actors, for their activities, they can continuously influence the co- evolution of the CSA and are called "Leaders". In fact, all actors have, for the Science of Complexity, potentially as important as any one may also, through a butterfly effect, strongly influence the development or lead to the dissolution the CSA (Yukl, 2002).

In practice the application of the management of complexity in real cases is to define and describe the case as CSA, and then apply a set of principles and procedures gradually to transform the system in question (business, project, etc..) in an efficient CSA respond appropriately to changes in its environment by pursuing his goals. The schemes and procedures used vary somewhat 'depending on the school management considered, however, we can highlight some common features such as:

First make sure that the leaders will build a good view of their system as CSA abandoning the idea that this is like a car or a military organization.

In developing an action in the CSA should especially consider the relationships between actors rather than the actors themselves. The successful development of these relationships is critical to the success the CSA.

The structures and control systems should be minimized, they are not essential and only serve to give the illusion of direct or control the CSA. On the contrary must know the CSA directly through the system of relationships and influence the various actors towards the right decisions about what should be done.

In general, the basic principle of management is to increase the complexity of the CSA the edge of chaos in a manner to develop independently and spontaneous structures more necessary for the efficient development and survival of CSA.

It is obvious that the practical application of these principles is not so simple. Managers are highly reluctant to abandon traditional methods of command and control, on the other hand should be a good experience and skills to lead the system into chaos without triggering irreversible processes that lead to its dissolution.

Adaptive Leadership

For over 20 years, adaptive leadership has been developing one of the most innovative models of leadership. This model proposes significant breaks around the traditional concepts and methodology of teaching and learning of the leadership. The proposed model distinguishes between technical and adaptive problems, stating that the former are easily defined and for which there is a clear solution set, which does not mean that they are problems of low complexity, but if we can find someone with sufficient knowledge and experience to solve them (Foster & Kaplan, 2001).

By contrast, the adaptive problems are unclear and difficult to identify, mainly because they involve the most ingrained habits and customs of the members of an organization and therefore its solution involves changing people involved at the level of behaviour and mentality. This type of problem requires us to ask about the root causes of problems and not stay with the symptoms to manifest, and suggests that because people, in part, the source of the problem are also solutions. And take them to find that solution involves leadership. In adaptive leadership, leaders are not leaders but people who exercise leadership to address their adaptive problems. Leadership is not something you learn of the overnight and it is therefore necessary to use different methodologies, ranging from traditional exponential class, delivering a consistent framework, to the innovative case in point, which faces participants about themselves and their environment to complex, high voltage, in real time.

People are the heart of the organization. They create the cultural basis of the organization by their performance in teams, networks and communities of interest. Complex cultures are not the result of individual action alone creative leaders, but the product of effective teamwork. The heroic vision of the leaders put too much emphasis on the individual and the leadership is not always a dramatic and individual. The current paradigm talk of a leadership based on the circumstances, but also on the characteristics of each individual. In the various situations as changing the current situation, we have to assess what people have to lead, and must have features that will facilitate this role and we can do to help them achieve this (Ogawa, 2005).

We easily come to mind people who are leading teachers, emotional leaders, visionary leaders, militant leaders and wise leaders, but these are just labels that hide the power to move people: informal, status, information, expert or evocation. The aim of the current leader is being able to handle these powers with ease and use them or mix and match as the situations they face.

Adaptive leadership has to lead by example, and both physical proximity communication. It is essential to know to communicate with everyday language, speak on equal terms with people, put ourselves in their place and interact with an open mind, in short, we must learn to listen. Just keep in mind that connects both the speaker and the listener, follow-up care and empathy about what we are talking to us about their way of thinking, which enriches our perspective of the topic, while showing our partner not only the interest on what we said, it also positions us with an open mind to thoughts mixed with ours.

Adaptive Work

The word "adaptation" can best be illustrated on a biological level, as it explains the process by which organisms move to change and adapt to their environment with the ultimate goal of survival (Stacey, 2003). Therefore, we use this metaphor to illustrate how individuals and groups in organizations have to change in order to successfully meet the adaptive challenges.

Adaptive work in the context of leadership focuses on helping individuals to use multiple skills to deal with complex situations and systems that usually leave them paralyzed in the midst of confusion.

Organizational Challenge

The greatest challenge of leadership emerges that there is resistance to change and the resulting loss. Therefore, exercising leadership means taking big risks. The current business environment has become more dynamic and complex organizations and if humanity is to survive and succeed has to be more agile and increase their resilience. This new professional reality requires a new type of adaptive leadership. Unfortunately, current management theory is proving inadequate to achieve this goal because it has the mechanistic view that dominates western culture. Human organizations are understood and managed like a machine in which cause and effect are assumed known, searchable, understandable and therefore manageable. This understanding requires a stamp negative and pessimistic in organizational behaviour underestimating the ability of nature to innovate (Rost, 1991).

But organizations are not machines, they are complex adaptive systems, the parallels between the life and nature are enormous, in both areas there are great battles between the forces of tradition and the forces of change. In organizational settings as in nature there is no eternal winners, only species and organizations that either react and adapt in coevolution with the changing environment or become extinct.

Complexity Science Aids Leadership

In response to this mismatch between reality and theory of management, an alternative school of thought comes to the fore: that based on the science of complexity. The science of complexity provides for all living things as examples of complex adaptive systems, whether ant, human or business. In all these systems, interact independently participate in the ongoing reform and defining their future. This new paradigm is no longer regarded as environments impassive organizations with causes and simple solutions, but is accepted as means uncertain and full of its own innovative capacity of living systems.

This stream offers a new thinking for today's leaders, re-taught to understand the organizations for what they are: CAS that grow with change rather than as machines that need reengineering. The result of this new understanding innovative culture becomes the natural habitat of the organization and interaction between players is the key to its understanding.

Key Principles

There are four key principles emanating from the science of complexity that are inherent to all organizations:

The balance leads to death. When a living system is in equilibrium, has less able to react to changes in their environment.

Faced with the threat of living systems move toward the edge of chaos. This leads to high levels of change and experimentation where it is easier to emerge innovative solutions.

When this happens, the living system components self-organize and emerge new organizational forms.

Living systems cannot be addressed by a linear path, the unexpected is inevitable.

Adaptive leaders that take into account these principles will allow organizations to develop and prosper in the complex world.

Features Leading Complex Organizations and Innovative

According to the science of complexity one of the most important characteristics to lead an organization is the connectivity, defined as the ability to connect with employees, customers, suppliers and competitors to want to connect with them. An online leader is vital for innovation. For the participants in the organization to innovate, they must know and care about the problems with it. The most effective way of knowing what is significant is that they work with, listen and inform. Knowing their stories, the leaders will be able to understand and use each and every one of their points of view (Bass & Avolio, 1994)

Diversity is also another critical factor for innovation and should be seen as an asset rather than as an obstacle to the fact that two employees have a completely different world. What the leader must do is to connect these views clearly opposed. Given that no one can understand all the intricacies of a complex system, leaders should try to connect to the largest number of organizational aspects. It causes connectivity innovation as much knowledge and intelligence of the organization is not visible and remains in the hands and heads of employees. Connecting to participate more invisible this knowledge may emerge.

Adopting an inclusive approach to innovation increases the number of co-creators and winners. Sharing successes increases the feeling of camaraderie among workers. This camaraderie is reinforced by a strong corporate culture is being created in the innovation process and is very helpful for networking among participants. The leader also must connect with the outside world through their customers and suppliers and that these external sources can provide a broader perspective on the needs of that market at the same time enable innovative collaboration.

Connectivity grows when leaders are brave and curious and admit that they know everything about the organization and industry. But any attempt to connectivity fails, if employees and external forces will not believe the leader.

Technical Problems verses Adaptive Challenges

Adaptive Leadership distinguish between adaptive challenges and technical problems.

Technical problems are those that can easily be defined and for which a solution exists. Can be difficult to resolve, but we know what to do or we can find an expert who knows. Technical problems can be managed and usually borne by someone with enough authority to solve. Adaptive challenges are unclear and difficult to identify. Engage hearts and minds, and are often seen or conceived by someone who cares about the state of things, but is not vested with enough authority to impose change. Adaptive challenges involve learning new solutions and choose what appears to be a contradictory value. They cannot simply be managed, but must be confronted and must act honestly. Adaptive challenges, but are unique to each organization, have some common properties:

There is a gap between aspirations and reality.

To progress you need answers that are not in the standard repertoire organization.

To bridge the gap requires difficult learning.

Part of learning corresponds to distinguish what is essential and what is not in a organization.

Losses usually involve learning to rethink loyalties and develop new skills.

Need to make decisions that will face values ​​and loyalties.

People with the problem are the problem, and also the solution. Solving these problems should mutate from authoritative experts to the concerned.

Adaptive work requires a longer working time than required technical work.

Adaptive work involves experimentation.

The imbalances create adaptive challenges, resistance and evasion of work.


In the end, it can be concluded that organizational change inevitably involves an adaptive challenge. Adaptive Leadership work is dealing with the challenges and overcome the barriers of the system to accelerate the pace of change and achieve goals and definitely complexity science helps leaders to lead the organizations.