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Emergent by Stephen Scott Johnson

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Chapter 2 Navigating workplace complexity

ORGANISATIONAL DEMANDS FOR AUTONOMY and interdependence are like the visible tip of an iceberg. The pressure to do more with less and the need to be flatter, leaner and more agile are all surface-level signs of a much deeper and pervasive culture and engagement crisis.

As mentioned in chapter 1, an astounding 87 per cent of leaders and managers cite culture and engagement as critical or urgent — symptomatic of an old power model struggling to maintain relevance in a new, increasingly connected paradigm.

One of the most compelling aspects of emergent trends and social technological advancement is that information now overflows on a scale beyond that which we can physically comprehend. The world today is a paradigm whereby federated leadership destabilises monopolies, and organisations are challenged to continuously innovate in order to maintain relevance.

Canadian-born architectural theorist and writer Sanford Kwinter explores this context in Far From Equilibrium — a 2008 book that tackles everything from technology, society, and architecture on his premise that ‘creativity, catharsis transformation and progressive breakthroughs occur far from equilibrium’. In his book, Kwinter asserts: ‘We accurately think of ourselves today not only as citizens of an information society, but literally as clusters of matter within an unbroken informational continuum.’

As the great composer Karlheinz Stockhausen once said, ‘We are all transistors, in ...

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