Self Organizing systems LO3772

William J. Hobler, Jr. (
Mon, 20 Nov 1995 17:21:40 -0500

[Was: How Much Time in Meetings? LO3747...]

Michael McMaster <>
on Fri, 17 Nov 1995 18:38:53 +0000 wrote

> Self-organizing systems depend on pre-existing structure,
> conditions intergrations for their effectiveness. There is
> no "intention" required for self- organising systems to
> function. Certainly "good" intentions are not required.
> The self-organising systems of nature of just doing their
> own thing and the design (or whatever you like to call it)
> takes care of the whole working or not.

Isn't the "intention" of a system built into the system itself? In living
organisms DNA is the intention to build itself and the sex drive to
continue the species.

A well organized business structure has its vision and goals which
constitutes a statement of intent. The leader's role is to obtain
consensus for the vision and goals. Extending this role to include
general acceptance of some guiding values could establish a foundation
for productive self-organizing systems (problem solving teams).
Certainly, the good intentions of the individuals involved to a large
degree mimic the organizations intentions.

In response to the following
> I think people will naturally organize themselves to
> achieve an objective when they all share that objective

Michael McMaster wrote
> Yes, people will tend to self-organize (effectively) *when
> they all share that objective. But that hides a major
> problem. People seldom *do* share an objective ...
> I think the only saving possibility in this is that our
> independently driven actions and conversations can converge
> and can self-organize (two often separate states)...

Isn't this one of the principal goals of a learning organization, to
share objectives? However difficult it may be to obtain, shared goals
and values is one factor critical to the sustained success of every
organization. To the extent that the leadership words and actions
support, visibly, their dedication to shared goals and values the
enterprise will be willing to follow. To the extent that each
member accepts the values and goals personably, the enterprise
can expect self organizing teams to form and add value.

Bill Hobler at
Total Systems Consulting