Timothy D. Wilson stipulates that “at any given moment our minds take in about 11 million bits of information. We are consciously aware of only 40 pieces of that information.”

Further,  Daniel C. Dennett recently stated, “I’m trying to undo a mistake I made some years ago, and rethink the idea that the way to understand the mind is to take it apart into simpler minds and then take those apart into still simpler minds until you get down to minds that can be replaced by a machine. It’s what good old-fashioned AI tried to do and still is trying to do. The question is, what happens to your ideas about computational architecture when you think of individual neurons not as dutiful slaves or as simple machines but as agents that have to be kept in line and that have to be properly rewarded and that can form coalitions and cabals and organizations and alliances? This vision of the brain as a sort of social arena of politically warring forces seems like sort of an amusing fantasy at first, but is now becoming something that I take more and more seriously, and it’s fed by a lot of different currents.”

The irony of all this is that now that we have all this new neuroscience related research at our fingertips most organizations still keep “how to manage people” on top of their to do list. Yet at the same time organizational leaders constantly champion innovation as the primary factor for success. You can’t have it both ways. Thus, knowing how to “unmanage” people is the real answer today .   

All life forms are not only self-organizing systems by design, but self-organization also constitutes the primary process by which all organic entities interact with one another. Typical examples of this dynamic, from a relationship perspective, are the informal social connections we develop over time that are vital aspects of our lives, within and external to, our places of work. In general, self-organization includes the following features:

  • An entity’s intrinsic ability to change itself as it interacts with its environment and strives to maintain its identity.
  • Interactions that produce self-referential patterns without the need to be designed or managed.
  • Evolving patterns that are both sustained and transformed by spontaneous interactions.
  • Creativity and destruction are part of the emergent process, as are attraction and repulsion.

 So far, few industry leaders have taken the advice of one of the most noted management gurus of all time, Peter Drucker, who years ago suggested that the aim is to build an organization “in which every man (and woman—my note) sees himself as a ‘manager’ and accepts for himself the full burden of what is basically managerial responsibility: responsibility for his own job and work group, for his contribution to the performance and results of the entire organization, and for the social tasks of the work community.”

 Although there are some great organizational examples, such as W.L. Gore & Associates and The Morning Star Company, sadly most companies are still very slow in adopting real “self-management” as their primary method of generating innovative ideas and performing day-to-day operations.

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