Managing is Fractalicious


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  • @Alfonso Cornejo Thanks Alfonso. There's a bit more here if you are interested
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  • Congratulations Peter, very interesting model
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  • Managing is what I guess you think it is: a process through which people, tools, and raw material, are brought together and their application co-ordinated toward a goal. It is rarely appreciated as a process through which meaning is created, transformed, and destroyed. It is also an emotioning process, a languaging process, and a conversing process. But why is managing fractalicious.?
    A fractal, famous in chaos theory and Mandelbrot sets, is a set of relationships, a pattern that repeats within itself—well almost. Managing generates a fractal-like pattern that occurs an individual level, and a team level, at an organisational level, at a multi-organisational level, but it also generates a pattern below the level of the individual, in our brain/nervous system allowing what anthropologists call rehearsal. Bobsledgers, gymnasts, snooker players, are famous for it. Managing is fractalicious because everybody manages, every day, every minute. Everybody thinks about managing all the time. What we do together is co-ordinate our managing. We make decisions, set goals, make plans and put them into action, monitor performance, learn from the experience and do it again. But doesn’t this describe crafting too? We manage to achieve ambitions, we manage to disrupt meetings, we manage to make tools to make other tools. So managing is also a process of building. Managing is intimately tied to results. Results flow, they are generated continuously. Some results become more significant than others, some of those become symbolic. Managing is the process by which meaning is given to symbols, and through which meaning evolves.
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  • This presentation was made at a conference called EPIC, designed to promote and encourage cross disciplinary collaboration. The theme of managing which is a ubiquitous idea and only rarely is it considered in a critical light. Here, managing is exposed as a natural process which is our manner of living with others. Managing is conversing, nothing happens without talking. It s also a learning process, and one that maintains and also destroys social systems. The theory underpinning the whole is the biology of cognition from Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela, with contributions from Stuart Kauffmans’s work and actor-network theory.
  • These are the disciplines I’ve drawn on to create a new vision of the managing process.
  • Managing is conversing, which is not about communicating information but co-ordinating social actions. Result of conversing is a frame of reference, a guide we use unconsciously and consciously to co-ordinate our actions and those of others toward a goal.
  • This definition of conversation is markedly different to the conventional view of language. What we commonly call ‘language’, communication and information transfer by symbols, M&V see as a grave misinerpretation and goes beyond what we can observe and therefore describe if we were scientific observers. As observers of behaviour we can only infer physiological changes are taking place. This correspondence between the flow of changes in the relations between the two people in the picture is crucial to understanding how ‘objects’ emerge from the interactions called conversations.
  • Two people conversing is a complex system. Complex or nonlinear systems are unpredictable. The outcomes of conversations is unknowable.
  • Managing is Fractalicious

    1. 1. Fractalicious Managing Peter Bond Learning Futures
    2. 2. Disciplines 1. Conventional (systems) theory of managing 2. Complex systems science. Theory of complex or nonlinear systems behaviour. Biology of Cognition Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela (biologists, neuroscientists) Unconventional explanation of language Supracritical systems behaviour —Stuart Kauffman 3. Actor-Network Theory (John Law) 4. Art and agency (Alfred Gell)
    3. 3. Language is ‘….a system of cooperative consensual interaction between organisms’ (Maturana & Varela: 1980, p. 31), a process that results in ‘...the creation of a cooperative domain of interactions between actors or speakers through the development of a common frame of reference’ (Maturana & Varela: 1980, p. 57). Frame of reference worth comparing with Bourdieu’s habitus.
    4. 4. Conversing is an intertwined or braided flow of emotioning and languaging Physiological domain Relational or behavioural domain + Coordinated (social) actions or behaviours—LANGUAGING. IN CONVERSATIONS THERE IS CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN FLOWING INTERNAL PHYSIOLOGICAL CHANGES AND EXTERNAL BEHAVIOURS
    5. 5. consensual domain coordinations of coordinations of action we observe
    6. 6. I love you I hate you I love you She’s angry She loves me She loves me CONVERSATION ARE UNPREDICTABLE – NONLINEAR - COMPLEX
    7. 7. Material RESULTS
    8. 8. Fractal: Repeating or iterating self-similar pattern. Fractalicious Things
    9. 9. Fractalicious Managing
    10. 10. Managing: Complex, nonlinear, unpredictable Emotioning Polytechnical Inventive, innovating process Habitus generation process Languaging (a system of co-ordinating actions) System maintaining/destroying Tends to supracriticality (conversations) Meaning creating/destroying too.