Alexis Downs, Rita A Durant, and Adrian N. Carr wrote a 20-page article titled Emergent Strategy Development for Organizations, for the journal Emergence, Volume #5, Issue #2, June 2003. 

« Emergent strategy, with its acknowledgment that uncertainty is here to stay, has the potential to address the current challenges of organizations. »

« According to [Henry] Mintzberg, strategy is plan and pattern; that is, “organizations develop plans for the future and they also evolve patterns out of their past” (1994: 24). In addition Mintzberg, an early proponent of emergent strategy, says that a “realized pattern” that was not “expressly intended” can emerge (1994: 25). He defines emergent strategy as “actions … taken, one by one, which converged in time in some sort of consistency or pattern” (1994: 25). For example, Mintzberg (1994) argues that a firm might gradually acquire diverse businesses until a strategy of diversification emerges.»

« We will suggest that strategy can emerge not only from patterns of action, but also from interpretations of meaningful, acausal events. »

« Emergent strategies also rely on the organization’s ability to learn from the actual experiences of employees at all levels (Noe et al., 2003). According to [Shona] Brown and [Kathleen] Eisenhardt, improvisational businesses have “real-time communication”; that is, communication “focused in real time, on the tasks at hand, such as manufacturing operations, customer complaints, and competitor moves” (1998: 47). Real-time communication combined with “semi-structure” (neither too loose nor too rigid) permits strategy to emerge (Brown & Eisenhardt, 1998: 53). »

« Oracle is a way of knowing whose logic, reason, and mediated pathways are nonlinear, transparent, and coherent…  An important purpose of the oracle was to establish consensus, or alignment, among different groups… Emergent strategists can learn from oracle seekers who welcome not only objective but also subjective data, for the art of crafting strategy is subjective. »

« …unsettling us from our conventional wisdom—an estrangement, affording us an opportunity to penetrate and reflect, perhaps anew, on what we have taken for granted. The estrangement provides a vehicle through which the linear logic we have used in the past may become, at least partially, set aside in the search for new affinities previously hidden or uncontemplated. »

« To date, the field of strategy, particularly the predominant rational planning school (Lynch, 2000), has been built up largely out of the perceived need to reduce uncertainty. But as Van Uden et al. argue, “…it is impossible to have a complete account of a complex system that is less complex than the system itself ” (2001: 57). Therefore, given that “uncertainty is not a result of ignorance or the partiality of human knowledge but is a characteristic of the world itself” (Taylor, 2001: 115), strategies designed to reduce or eliminate uncertainty are likely to be ineffective at best and may very possibly be a risk to organizational survival. »

The paragraph above reminds me of a quote commonly attributed to Albert Einstein:
“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

« An important issue in complexity theory is how order emerges out of chaos (Goldstein, 1999); »

« [Ralph] Stacey (1992) uses complexity theory to develop a strategic approach to the “real management problem”; that is, “managing the unknowable” (1992: 14–15). According to Stacey, managers should provoke questioning, promote organizational learning, develop flexible structures, and accept the resulting anxiety (1992: 15). “The key question is not how to create stable equilibrium organizations, but how to establish sufficient, constrained instability to provoke complex learning,” he says (1992: 208). »

« Emergent strategies… encourage experimentation and multiple points of view, because such firms assume uncertainty. »

« Stacey suggests that organizations are complex adaptive systems, which are most creative at the edge of disintegration (Stacey et al., 2000). »

« Emergence contains the unexpected, and therefore is supported by a sense of humor (Kohn, 1989): ‘Humor [like creativity] depends on an unexpected, sudden change of frame of mind for two situations that are fully plausible in their own context, but become incompatible in a change frame of reference. This sudden switch at the end of a plausible story is the key to laughter … The ability to operate such switches as in humor or mystery stories helps the scientist to look from a different perspective at a set of facts so they may lead her to a discovery.’ (1989: 172) »

« Chance operations can change the mind because they circumvent intention…The Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chugyam Trungpa commented that “magic is the total appreciation of chance.” We are more likely to appreciate chance if we stop trying to control what happens, and one way to do that is to cultivate non-intention. »

« as Atlan asserted, “Randomness is a kind of order, if it can be made meaningful … and the task of making meaning out of randomness is what self-organization is all about” (cited in Taylor, 2001: 136). »

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