Literature Synthesis: Incorporating Complex Adaptive System

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For the last three decades, the speed of business cycle escalation is dramatic. There are significant changes that are taking place faster than the past product cycles while markets have turned out to be near unpredictable such that the traditional management paradigms are not capable of maintaining their rates. At our company, this had been a notable issue. Transiting from the traditional to the adopted current organizational management styles was quite slow. The CEO could take time before adapting to any proposed complex adaptive system, something that made the company lag behind in the industry. As a development community, the CEO realized that he had to react to these transitions and was able to reduce software development cycle. This was achieved by application of agile development methods like Scrum or Kanban. The quick yet flexible address to the ever-changing organizational needs has recently provided achievements like continuous deployment. This paper acknowledges that understanding the modern development methods of management and its technical perspective assists the CEO to confidently do away with traditional way of doing things like bottlenecks of development and company will obviously start to improve.

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According to Stacy (2011), agile methods are derived from complex adaptive systems. It is worth noting that Complex Adaptive System has been an area of research in several disciplines for the last two decades. Wang and von Tunzelmann (2000) added to that by indicating that it uses the philosophies of internal organization of teams and offers an environment in which the internal organization can develop. Two major issues that can be found in specific departments of the given company were significance issues in the administration and dealing with agile development teams in human resource department due to the fact that they are built around management paradigms which are known to be often conflicting. According to the film by Laureate Education, Inc. (2012), a problem in some organizations can be the increased speed needs coupled with failure to convert the quick development ccles in realized organizational value; hence, long-term competitive advantage is often difficult to deal with. These problems were contributed by the CEO’s decisions and felt as complexity in chain of command.

It was through these issues that the company CEO used consultants to come up with solutions by exploring other possible business structures that would offer the advantages of quick reaction to all departments of the company. Together with the agile community, the workers will be able to come up with solutions to these issues. According to Volberda and Lewin (2003), the company can be termed to be totally made around the values of complex adaptive systems which enabled a quick business approach. We realized that the solutions we came up with had common characteristics that include the fact that management is founded on long-term organizational value and adaptation among others (Wang & von Tunzelmann, 2000). Moreover, they adapt a catalyst method of leadership. Another one is that they encourage an open communication method and there is consistent learning from experiments. Furthermore, their members specialize in their respective fields and comprehend the system as a whole.

In understanding the organization as a whole, McKelvey (2002) says that enterprises are naturally designed as complex adaptive systems. The organization’s members comprehend and manage the business as a complex adaptive system instead of treating it as a steam machine propelled by mechanic action as well as pressure. The company therefore acts as a cross sectional team and its members cooperate closely in order to attain higher goal. They also strive with the ‘us and them’ mentality and value highly the mutual understanding across its different departments.

Another vital concept identified by Volberda and Lewin (2003) is open environment; it refers to the ability to deal with unaccepted circumstances. The company was able to develop a vibrant physical as well as virtual environment that creates transparency and openness apart from investing in ccommunication systems where various people share and collaborate. According to Stacey (2007), the way communication is done matters more than what is communicated. The CEO was therefore advised to emphasize on patterns of communication and encourage a culture that pushes collaboration and sharing within the organization’s departments. The company will succeed in adapting the unexpected by abandoning the narrow communication paths that do not achieve communicating expected information and set up unstructured, open communication paths such as open space events that enable an open exchange for knowledge and ideas (Volberda & Lewin, 2003).

The last concept entails management and adaptation in the long run. According to Maguire, McKelvey, Mirabeau, and Oztas (2006), for an organization to adapt to the ever-changing managerial aspects, it should consider the long-term perspective even when working on short-term goals. They also maintain that management should be done upon a business’s long-term value as opposed to short-term target. The CEO followed this concept and based his governance on pre-conformance and pre-planning. The basic requirements are stage gate process and budget where by intermediate performances are first reviewed after which further budget is incorporated. However, these two tools contradict the agile manifesto ideas which state “we value…responding to change over following a plan” (Maguire et al., 2006) although they are vital in running the traditional organizations.

In conclusion, complex adaptive system research has proven that these models of systems are vital for adapting even in turbulent and chaotic environments. The model of complex adaptation is appropriate in solving workplace problems because it describes the procedures followed to the extent that the issue is resolved. Apart from showing the impact that the problem had on the organization, this model also creates sense of the experience at the workplace of the adopted solution along with providing other preferences that would have been applied to resolve the problem.

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