Thursday, January 10, 2008

Change is the Norm

Complex adaptive systems are complex as they consist of many interacting and interconnected elements and adaptive as they change their behaviour to adapt to their environment in order to minimize dissonance.

Organizations are complex adaptive systems and consist of people who are themselves complex adaptive systems. Considering that organizations operate in an environment where they have to interact with other organizations and individuals, it is impossible to consider stability as the standard. Each organization adapts to its environment, but being part of the environment of those interacting with it, the act of adapting changes the environment for those around it. In turn, they will adapt and thereby change the environment of the original organization in a never-ending cycle of change and adaptation.

The effective leader should embrace the notion that change is the norm, refrain from attempting to impose stability and consider ways to capitalize on change.


Ryan Lanham said...

Norm is a fascinating concept. We do use norms and we do have psychological needs for "normal."

But is something that is not the norm...abnormal? In the simple Latin roots of the word, it is abnormal...but in a psychological sense abnormal is obviously loaded.

I wonder what we mean by norm these days?

Paul Eloff said...

I'd say that norm has very little to do with normal, but rather refers to that which is typical. Something typical might actually be somewhat abnormal. Which leads one to ask: typical to what/who? Probably typical to that which the user of the word is accustomed to.

Of course, in time the typical might become the normal ... or perhaps even abnormal ...