Implementing Change - Emergent Intelligence in Organizations

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A common error that is made when projects for implementing change are considered is to equate the intelligence of the individual members of an organization with the overall intelligence of the organization itself. It would seem that the more intelligent members that an organization has the more intelligent the organization would be in an additive or exponential sense. Frequently, though, the case turns out to be opposite from the expectation. The emergent intelligence of an organization of people tends to be less than that of the individual members. This does not bode well for implementing change.

The irony of the matter is that for more basic forms of life, there is an additive principle for the overall intelligence of organizations. Take, for example, the activity of ants and ant colonies. An individual ant is capable only of an extremely limited set of actions. However, an ant colony is capable of very complex sets of activities such as building or defense. Despite the lack of individual intelligence, when placed into a group situation, ants will naturally fall into organized and regimented activities. The emergent intelligence of the ant colony is greater than that of an individual ant.

When placed into groups that are implementing change, human beings do not adopt networked activity. Moreover, the more intelligent the people involved, the more difficult it becomes to get them to engage in networked behavior. Perhaps this is due to the assertion of individuality, but the end result is that organizations of human beings tend to respond slowly and ineffectively without the presences of a strong, organizing intelligence.

In essence, implementing change in organizations filled with smart people is about creating more effective networked behaviors. The individuals need to be brought onboard with the change, usually through the intervention of a high ranking executive. This allows the change professional or change team to more effectively manage the relatively low emergent intelligence of the organization in such a way that it will implement the changes required by the project or situation.

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Jacob Long has 1 articles online

For more information, please see the website: Implementing Change

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This article was published on 2010/03/27