Ever since my imagination was captured by the phrase "strange attractor," I have wondered if we could identify such a force in organizations. Is there a magnetic force, a basin for activity, so attractive that it pulls all behavior toward it and creates coherence ? My current belief is that we do have such attractors at work in organizations and that one of the most potent shapers of behavior in organizations, and in life, is meaning. ”Margaret Wheatley , Leadership and the New Science
When I think about business and organizations through the perspective of other disciplines, such as art and science, I become more creative in solving organizational problems. Chaos theory, for example, has given me some significant insights into business and rank-based versus peer-based practices.
Up to this point, we've compared and contrasted rank-based and peer-based assumptions and logic. We've seen how the myth of leadership creates unhealthy and unproductive organizations. In this chapter we look at how rank-based thinking, as the foundation of the myth of leadership, leads to a set of organizational practices that not only fail to fully engage employees but also leave the majority of their creativity and energy untapped. In contrast is peer-based thinking and the peerbased practices employed by some very successful organizations. We begin, however, with an investigation into chaos theory.