In their article "Leading at the Edge : How Leaders influence Complex Systems", ( http://www.thesoulatwork.com/pubs/emerge.html ) Birute Regine and Roger Lewin point out the importance of relationship and communication between all elements of the organization :
"In a nonlinear, dynamic world, everything exists only in relationship to everything else, and the interactions among agents in the system lead to complex, unpredictable outcomes." ... "Relationships are the most important thing in a complex system. If you don’t have strong relationships, none of this works."
The authors describe 5 levels of relationships :
1. to one’s work
2. between individuals
3. to the shared purpose and values
4. to other complex systems such as other companies in the business environment and in their economic web, and to the community in which they lived
5. to the natural environment.
For each of these levels, what kind of communication skill or knowledge is needed to adapt effectively in a complex, unpredictable and transforming environment ?
Michael Polanyi's "tacit knowledge" could be piece of the puzzle :
"With tacit knowledge, people are not often aware of the knowledge they possess or how it can be valuable to others. Effective transfer of tacit knowledge generally requires extensive personal contact, regular interaction and trust. This kind of knowledge can only be revealed through practice in a particular context and transmitted through social networks. To some extent it is "captured" when the knowledge holder joins a network or a community of practice."
Tacit knowledge is kind of a bridge between expert knowledge and practice, which allows real adaption and change :
"Often we employ knowledge experts, subject matter experts and have a diversity of specialists collaborating as they are surprisingly as individuals, often unaware, often unable to articulate, communicate and describe what they know; it often requires others around them to bring it out. The important point is they know but often cannot articulate it without prompting or drawing out what they know in a ‘given’ context to make clearer meaning of it, moving it from tacit to explicit."
the way to spread and share tacit knowledge seems to be bringing group together and facilitating conversations.
Facilitators familiar with the art of hosting could find here the theoretical backgrounds of their practice :
- complex systems
- tacit knowledge
This could lead to a better understanding of our practice of designing new effective processes to facilitate transformation, cooperation, innovation.