Group 4

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What role can technology play in changing cooperation?

Group 4 Members:

Subject: What role can technology play in changing cooperation?

Presentation date: May 14th 2012

File:IMOC Group4 presentation.pdf

On the 14th of May we will be presenting a student lecture about the question 'What role can technology play in changing cooperation?'.

Introduction to the lecture topic

The way in which we interpreted the question is that, if you view an organization from the complex adaptive systems perspective, then the different states that an organization goes through and the movements between these states require different modes of cooperation. In one organization there could of course be various adaptive cycles active at the same time at various levels (e.g. individual, project, department, business unit etc.) and these cycles could also influence each other. In these different modes of cooperation technology could have a different role. (E.g. more aimed at supporting standardization in equilibrium and more aimed at supporting innovation in the crisis situation).

Our approach was to look into the different roles that technology could have in each of the four phases of the adaptive cycle. We also linked this to our case study of the company Fast Lane.

To start with and in order to get a clear view of what is meant by the main question, certain elements of the question will be clarified here.

  • What is Co-operation
  • What is Technology
  • What is the Adaptive Cycle and what are the movements in the cycle?

After the subjects are clarified, the Adaptive Cycle and the phases within the cycle are related to technology and the use of technology within the cycle.

Cooperation is a situation in which people or organizations work together to achieve a result that will benefit all of them (collaborate). Cooperation can also be accomplished by computers, which can handle shared resources simultaneously, while sharing processor time. For more information on Cooperation click here.

Technology is the making, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, and procedures. Technologies significantly affect human, society and its surroundings in a number of ways. Technology can be viewed as an activity that forms or changes culture. For more information on Technology click here and Technology Strategy click here

In sum, we can conclude that cooperation is the process of working or acting together. And technology is the technique which amongs other things makes it possible to cooperate.

Adaptive Cycle

Adaptive Cycle

In a nutshell the Adaptive Cycle can be described as four phases of change (growth, conservation, release, and reorganization) that are characteristic of many systems, particularly natural resource systems. Having an understanding of where a system is in the adaptive cycle as well as knowing a bit about past cycles of change in the system allows for more strategic management. Whether your goal is to reduce the risk of crossing an imminent threshold or to change the system’s trajectory in order to make it more sustainable, knowing how system vulnerabilities and opportunities vary from phase to phase can help to guide management decisions. The Adaptive Cycle contains 4 movements in which a certain process of change is done. During the study of these four phases, we did a case study on an IT education company, Fast Lane, which focuses on offering training in advanced technologies for experienced engineers, in order to gain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the topic. For more information about the Adaptive Cycle click here.

The four phases of the Adaptive Cycle are discussed in detail below by following the hyperlinks:

Phase 1: Release

Release describes the movement from quadrant 1, equilibrium, to quadrant 2, crisis. In the equilibrium quadrant, the cause/effect relationships are known. The company is making profit, the managers are satisfied and nothing needs to be changed. There is a pursuit for efficiency and preservation and improvement of the market position. The equilibrium should not be disturbed. This phase can be described as a business in a usual phase where any improvements take place within the existing objectives and the prevailing business model. Thus, at any moment there might be....

Phase 2: Reorganisation

This phase is connected to the crisis quadrant. The moment when the basis attitude of fear for the future and searching for new alternatives is altered towards confidence in the future marks the transition from quadrant 2 to quadrant 3. This new insights involves that the organization sees new futures that could be chosen.....

Phase 3: Exploitation

In this phase choices are made, which can be based on intuition and emotions. New combinations of workforces are created and new business units and business plans will emergence....

Phase 4: Conservation

After choices are made, it is necessary to pay attention to operationalisation and improvements. In other words, one needs to produce order out of the urge to growth which prevailed until that moment. Once again, rationalization of processes, attention to efficiency and effectively become important, involving the regaining of bureaucratic structures, re-establishing routines that result in the organization is being able to end up in a new business-as-usual situation....


“What role can technology play in changing cooperation?”

Different phases of the adaptive cycle incorporate different ways that technology plays in cooperation. While technology can not mandate human collaboration, if used effectively it will streamline work and operations and improve communication between people, as we saw in the Arab Spring example. Technology has certainly improved our ability to store, access and manipulate information in a variety of ways. It provides us with the ability to improve communication within an organisation and amongst its people and encourage collaboration.

Collaboration, getting work done with other people, is increasingly seen as the key to success as interaction within companies has rapidly changed. The way of working has changed dramatically. New technologies have made it easier and cheaper to connect with friends, family, and business colleagues on a global basis. In that way the workface has become far more mobile. The technologies that enable distance collaboration have a powerful impact on the nature and quality of the outcomes. The tools we use affect what we know about the process, the ideas, and the other people we are interacting with.

With social networking tools like Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and blogs, in combination with the availability of low-cost audio and video conferencing technologies, millions of people are now spending significant amounts of time interacting with people who are somewhere else. Technology is what makes it possible for people to interact with each other when they aren’t physically present. They are able to have a virtual presence at a remote venue, whether through chat tools, web sites, audio, visual and even via robotics.

Social media in organisations is the hype these days, it is also becoming a new force in organizations around the world. Social networking establishments has facilitated the use of interaction with one another let alone meeting face to face continues to be an effective means to share knowledge. Social media is certainly an excellent method to reach out to understand consumers. We will also see that the use of social media will significantly grow within organisations . As social media creates new opportunities for organisations, it will demand a shift in thinking about new market strategies or business opportunities. We see that technology has removed confines of space and time: organisations, (people) need no longer be present at the same location or time.

Clearly, succeeding in today’s business requires being able to make decisions and innovate at the speed of the internet (real time). And the technologies that enable us to communicate and collaborate in real-time (at fairly reasonable cost) with others almost anywhere on the planet are just accelerating the speed of business even more. Being able to move information of any kind from one employee to another, even when those two individuals are thousands of miles apart, is a key source of competitive advantage.

Different role of technology in each phase

  • Traditional focus of technology and information management has been on supporting the equilibrium
  • Emerging technologies have shifted attention more towards the right side of the model

Role of technology in supporting the organization in dealing with crisis
Much of memory that a company has is stored in the form of databases. These could be on company intranet servers or in the cloud. In times of crisis it is important that information is present and accessible through several kinds of technologies. And that employees and/or organizations can keep interacting with each other through several kinds of technologies.

  • To incorporate/operationalize the discussed roles of technology (e.g. supporting search process, innovation, experimentation) you would need a different kind of approach to the use and management of technology.
  • “Character of the information provision should be more that of a toolbox available to the business professional. According to the circumstance he/she can choose which IT tools to use”. (Abcouwer and Parson)
  • Provision of some kind of basis infrastructure that supports this more ad hoc use of technology use

Characteristics of technology in different phases
We looked at the role that technology could have in the different phases of the adaptive cycle. Now an interesting question would be: What specific characteristic does make technology suitable for a particular phase? Or put differently, how can you measure if a particular technology would be suitable to use in a particular phase of the cycle?
We looked briefly into this question to give an idea of possible characteristics/measures, we divided these over the left and the right side of the model.

Right side:

  • Not imposing a workflow on the user
  • Give user freedom to use the system in the way that he/she wishes and make his own linkages
  • Technology not as tool with predefined functions, but as a medium within which users can actively explore particular domains, generating their own paths and links
  • Supporting multiple media formats

Left side:

  • More aimed at facilitating known communication channels
  • Procedural / Letting the user follow a pre defined pattern
  • Aimed at automating and optimizing already proven work processes

As we have seen, technology has a great influence on our existence in a modern global society. From interplanetary exploration to the creation of our GPS satellite constellation, which is now used by most humans in cellular phones for navigation purposes, the use of technology has changed our world from primitive existence to our comfortable modern way of life. No doubt we will have to adapt to further changes in the future as technological advances are made.
As human density increases, cooperation amongst nations and ecologies is of utmost importance for the survival and resilience of our planet.


While looking into our topic subject 'What role can technology play in changing cooperation?', we encountered various interesting questions.

We encourage you to partake in these discussions by selecting this link discussion page.


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