Edgeware - Principles



Nine emerging and connected organizational and leadership principles.

Some introductory thoughts

Our study of the science of complex adaptive systems and our work with health care organizations in VHA has led us to propose some principles of management that are consistent with an understanding of organizations as CASs. In the spirit of the subject matter, there is nothing sacred or permanent about this list. However, these principles do begin to give us a new way of thinking about and approaching our roles as leaders in organizations.

We are not the first to propose such a list. Our intent here is to capture practical principles that emerge from the science of complexity in language that resonates with management issues. Furthermore, astute readers will also observe that our list of principles, and CAS theory itself, has much in common with general systems thinking, the learning organization, total quality, empowerment, gestalt theory, organizational development and other approaches. It has much in common with these, but it is not any of these. CAS theory clarifies and pulls together many aspects of good thinking from the past. An understanding of CAS is an understanding of how things work in the real world. That others in the past have also understood these things and put them into various contextual frames should not be surprising. An understanding of CAS simply provides a broader, more fundamental, potentially unifying framework for these ideas.

The Nine Principles:

  1. View your system through the lens of complexity.
  2. Build a good-enough vision
  3. When life is far from certain, lead with clockware and swarmware in tandem
  4. Tune your place to the edge
  5. Uncover and work with paradox and tension
  6. Go for multiple actions at the fringes, let direction arise
  7. Listen to the shadow system
  8. Grow complex systems by chunking
  9. Mix cooperation with competition


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All Components of Edgeware Principles Copyright 2001, Curt
Lindberg, Complexity Management, VHA Inc. Permission to copy for educational
purposes only. All other rights reserved.