Change and Choice as emergent LO5609

Forbes, Ted (
Tue, 13 Feb 96 11:34:00 PST

Replying to LO5484 --

Replying to Julie, Valdis Krebs wrote:

>>>IMHO emergence is not just giving up and being at the mercy of the
flow, but includes having some affect on the flow -- sometimes more,
sometimes less.

This is timely for me. I've been involved in a series of conversations
with several colleagues about whether reality is granite or clay. I tend
toward the latter, arguing that we need to learn/develop the tools to work
it - and that this is a process of experience/refinement/recalibration.

>>>It's kind of like canoeing or rafting down a river... The river(biz
environment) takes the vessel(company) 'forward', and we(employees/mgt.)
steer [within the confines of the river(environment)]. Sometimes we are
in fairly placid water and have almost 'total' control over our vessel.
Other times we hit the rapids and our ability to control the boat is
greatly diminished -- here we really go with the flow!

As a paddler, let me submit another interpretation. With practice,
learning and the right tools, the rapids become really no more difficult
than the flat water (constrained of course by our judgment, which, in the
metaphor, is the difference between life and death). Indeed, they often
become exhilarating and we actively seek them out. We learn to read them
to understand their own topology, and to find eddies and currents that we
can use, in concert with our skills and tools, to actually facilitate our
movement. We can even learn how to use the force of the downstream
current to help us move across or even up the river.

By learning how to read and work with the environment, we begin to develop
the ability to move freely within it. And I've yet to meet anyone who
could not develop the ability, provided that they make the investment of
time and energy. Thus we are able to use, rather than go with, the flow.

>>>In placid waters we have time to plan, but in the rapids we must all be
adapting very quickly -- without centralized control. [Just-in-time
planning???] Each employee/dept must know what to do(common
vision/mission/goals) and adapt locally, but knowing how his/her
adaptation will affect the whole boat. To use an overused phrase... think
globally, act locally.

I think the trick here is not to *adapt* to a new context, but rather to
make the new context the only context.

Ted Forbes <>
Darden Graduate School of Business
Charlottesville, Virginia

"Forbes, Ted" <>

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