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Margaret Wheatley Analysis
We need a new attitude to reality, new ideas, and new communication in the chaotic days of new opportunities. The new science – new discoveries in biology, quantum physics, chaos theory – affects the new understanding of the world order. New science claims that the nature of randomness and chaos is the natural state. It shows the internal connections of cooperation that unites us and proves that life uses the mess to come to order.
“Leadership and the New Science” by Margaret Wheatley is the most famous and influential book on the application of new science to the modern community, labor and management. In the book, the author reveals how new science fundamentally changes contemporary view of the world and shows us the way to the overall success through chaos. The books aim is to add confidence in achieving aims and ease the way to the formation of new forms of community. The book was published in the U.S., in 1992, since then republished several times and translated into 17 languages. Even before the development of the Internet and all the changes to which it led, this book predicted the era of “Wikinomics” in a world where everything is connected to all.
Margaret and her colleagues founded the Berkana Institute in 1992. All those involved in the institute are the representatives of many countries and cultures. They are experimenting with the ideas described in the Margaret Wheatleys book. Berkana is gradually expanding the range of its members, with the leaders and innovators of organizations in dozens of countries.
Margaret gives the understanding of the world according to quantum worldview, in which all material forms are part of relationships. That was something that made her started to think about organizations as webs of relationships. The major discovery through the science was a challenge to realize that control and order were two different things and one could have an order without control.
The same laws work in an organization of any type. Margaret Wheatley is confident that the development of the joint management is caused by the changing view on the organizing principles of life. Everywhere in the new science – in a theory of living systems, quantum physics, chaos theory and complexity – we observe the dependence of all living organisms on joint participation. All living things are involved in the creation of themselves, assisted by the freedom of self-determination. The prevailing axiom for previous years management stated: Management – this is when you’re making other work. Work was the most important part, and the others were just a distraction expected to give conformity and predictability. Nowadays, the new thinking proclaims that we are people with our own needs and abilities.
In relation to management, this means that relations between people, their communications and co-creation are of first importance, rather than business plans, policies and procedures. Margaret Wheatley is sure that people, first of all, have to learn how to live with each other. Therefore, one cannot control the organization being outside of it or ignoring the network of relationships. Leaders are urged to assist, supported by peoples willingness to obey them.
In Scott London’s interview, Margaret encourages us to think of the leader as a mirror, or as a supporter of the processes, by which we know our competencies. For successful cooperation, the members of the group need to make sure that they know their customers, they know one another, and they know why they are in this business or this public sector organization. Corporations are going to have to at least acknowledge the fact, that what they want to create in terms of growth and profit is not necessarily what people are willing to work for in terms of greater meaning and shared purpose (London, n.d.).
Margaret pays much attention to discussion as a tool of group interaction. Discussions make any organization a learning organization. Thus, they develop themselves and their communication. Such discussions make sense if three main questions are raised: What happened? Why do you think it happened? What can we learn from it? Thus, the arrangement of discussions is an important leadership tool. In conversations, we listen carefully, argue about different points of view and develop collective intelligence.
Having closely looked at Margaret Wheatley observation, I can easily point out plenty of life situations confirming her point of view. For example, a woman got several people under her supervision to work in one project. Her fist actions were to establish a plan of work and specify the possible ways for achieving given tasks. Though the work plan was rather clear and instructive, they could not start working for several days. After several discussions, this woman has got acquainted with her group closer and started understand and evaluate every member of the group and their communication peculiarities.
Another common situation is when the organization cannot take even small step without their top manager or director. The ultimate destination of the groups, by Wheatley observation, is the realization that teams are quite capable of being self-managed, and organizations require something totally different from leaders and do not require as many of them as it is normally believed.
The book “Leadership and the New Science” (Wheatley, 2006) was ahead of its time by predicting new formulating communication, which appears nowadays. Relative to Wheatley’s leadership practices, one can analyze the New Business Realities by describing Five Driving Forces (Knowledge Primary Source of Wealth etc.). They are freely generated, transmitted and interpreted, as well as help in organizing the order in a world (Wheatley, 2006).
E-Business Systems is the new infrastructure. In the e-word, one needs to possess many skills to be an e-leader: integrating management and technology, learning and teaching, creating customers demand, global thinking, understanding of the role of e-communication, and implementing e-technologies in business. These leadership skills are closely connected with Net Communication, which became an area of interaction for numerous net communities. This has consequently led to a profound shift and reorganization of how people think about society and production organization. System Dynamics (one more principle) were discovered and described, in her unique way, by Mrs. Wheatley. She proclaimed organization not to be stable and predictable, but changing, self-developing, and transforming.
The fifth drive force of the new business realities is evident through Severe and Pressing Social and Cultural expectations of the 21th century. The increase towards leadership requirements, as well as competence of professionals and practitioners of social and cultural spheres, became obvious in the process of transition from purely administrative distribution management technology to the increased use of economic methods. The modern market operates with total competition of all against all. The unique ability to take its place in the global network of market relations at this background is the main aim for the new stakeholders.
Leadership is not a new style of management. This is the way of organization of work in modern communities with a developed self-consciousness. Such communities have arisen relatively recently or are only emerging.