Anytime you have a group of people interacting over time, you have a complex adaptive system. You can have clear hierarchies and role requirements, but what you can't easily quantify is how powerful a role emergence will play in how projects and people take shape when they are all co-evolving. (Especially here at the HumanCurrent podcast, where we run a flat organization.) It's beautiful, really. Together people shape the work, and the work changes them.
There are a lot of factors that have agency to cause the changing shape of any system (let's take a project team as our example), but the most obvious medium for making change or progress is ideas. Here's the thing about ideas and how much power they have. When we use our past experiences to inform our judgments about the present, we're using a mental model--a form of idea, a program if you will, that gives someone a structure to work with, because we humans need to see patterns in order to decode events into meaning.
Interesting thing is, we all run different mental models based on different value systems and experiences, so no one's really interpreting the present the same way. This really does make things interesting! It means potentially endless interpretations of problems and solutions. How do we come to consensus? Maybe awareness of what mental models we and others are running is a good place to start.
In decision-making in our teams, how much do we need to rely on mapping scenarios, working with existing structures, and when can we allow a little chaos to intervene? If innovation and sustainability are the goals, what's the right formula for "trusting the process?"
(That's not a rhetorical question, by the way. What are your thoughts?)