Learning Change

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The Intelligent Complex Adaptive System Model for Organizations

with 3 comments

This paper proposes a new model for organizations that live in a dynamic, complex environment. The model proposes to represent a new theory of the firm, one that starts with the fact that organizations are not metaphors of living systems but are living systems. As such, they have the potential to take advantage of those facets of living organisms that have proven efficacious throughout evolution. By that we mean that evolutionary survival has repeatedly shown that complexity in the form of variety, selectivity and adaptation have been the hallmarks of successful organisms throughout evolution, especially when their environment was changing and threatening.

While  emergent properties of complex organizations—arising out of multiple, nonlinear interactions—cannot be controlled, actions can be taken to influence the system’s behavior in such a way that the desired emergent properties, or something close to them, will emerge.


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Written by learningchange

April 12, 2012 at 3:16 pm

3 Responses

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  1. [...] background-position: 50% 0px; background-color:#222222; background-repeat : no-repeat; } gfbertini.wordpress.com – Today, 3:11 [...]

  2. Interestingr document, but unfortunetly focus only on the organization complex/complexity hype. Organizations don’t live only on complex mode they shift between repeatability and many agents interaction. Failing to understand this dynamics is failing to understand how real world enterprises work.

    Alberto Manuel

    April 13, 2012 at 4:36 pm

  3. After skimming it when you post the pointer (this leads to my early comment) I was expecting to find something more deep. The challenge “what organizational form will have the best capability to support their workforce and co-evolve with a rapidly changing, uncertain and highly complex world” is not unfortunately answered.

    One of the errors most authors do is creating a new framework of consolidated approaches. When is referred the key enablers behind the change, complexity and uncertainty are connectivity, data, information, knowledge, speed, access and digitalization, these “new” enablers” fall under Technology and Social domains that are used to scan enterprise environment. To read more about it take a peek at http://ultrabpm.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/knowledge-management-the-social-and-technology-factor/ .

    The framework, called ICAS (Intelligent Complex Adaptive System) as described, missed two critical key points:

    Does not cover the full knowledge domain, meaning, is missing emergency (where people act first and adapt after action was taken) and the typical cog connected to a machine (detect, prioritize, act) or in other words the typical structured process world. Also fails to explain how ICAS adapts itself to the shifts from every knowledge domain for example resuming from emergency to cog connected to the machine.

    Does not explain HOW companies should organize around ICAS. Telling that empowerment must be in place, people must be able to execute using corporate rules guides for guidance is not enough (even the classical example that it does not lead to chaos or anarchy to prevent criticism from command and control managers). What is the organizational model? ICAS has I understood is loosely coupled from managers and highly social interaction among participants, but under the adaptive paradigm, this model does not work when there is a shift to the cog and the machine. How this can be put in practice?

    Alberto Manuel

    April 15, 2012 at 6:42 am

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