Surfing the Edge of Chaos

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Authors: R.T. Pascale, M. Millemann, L. Gioja

Publication Year: 2000


Title: Surfing the Edge of Chaos: The Laws of Nature and the New Laws of Business

Publisher: Crown Business

Edition: Reprint edition

ISBN: 978-0609808832

Categories: Organizational Change, Change, Change Management, Ecology


Businesses can learn a great deal form nature. We are entering another scientific renaissance. The magnets for the inquiry are called complex adaptive systems. Also known as ‘complexity science’ this work grapples with the mysteries of life itself, and has revealed exciting insights into life and has opened up new avenues for management. A complex adaptive system is formally defined as a system of independent agents that can act in parallel, develop ‘models’ as to how things work in their environment, and, most importantly, refine those models through learning and adaptation. From the science of complexity there are four bedrock principles that are inherently and powerfully applicable to the living system called a business. If these principles are properly employed, they allow enterprises to thrive and revitalize themselves. These principles are: - Equilibrium is a precursor to death; - In the face of death, or when galvanized by a compelling opportunity, living things move toward the edge of chaos; - When this excitation takes place, the components of living systems self-organize and new forms and repertoires emerge from the turmoil; - Living systems cannot be directed along a linear path. They have to be disturbed in a manner that approximates the desired outcome.