Flower-cropped‘In every human organisation there is a tension between its designed structures, which embody relationships of power, and its emergent structures, which represent the organisation’s aliveness and creativity. Skillful managers understand the interdependence of design and emergence.’  F.Capra & PL Luisi, The Systems View of Life (p319-320)

For those of us who may not be as ‘skillful’ (!), the following is a short explanation of planned and emergent structures and the role that trust plays in both.

Planned structures – The designed or planned structures are the formal structures of the organisation as described in its official documents and agreed reference points. For example:

    • Legal frameworks – e.g. resources held in trust
    • Organisational structures – e.g. loops of responsibility/accountability
    • Organisational references – e.g. purpose, values and principles

These provide the rules and routines necessary for the effective functioning of the organisation. They can also provide the basis for consistency, transparency and mutual support – in other words, trust.

Emergent structures – Emergence unfolds in the organisation’s informal networks, communities of practice and culture. For example:

    • Within the organisation – e.g. staff working with mutual support, transparency and consistency to move from the status quo while allowing new structures to emerge.
    • With the organisation – e.g. a sustainable, trust-based, network of stakeholders (customers, suppliers, community, environment, etc) encouraging new structures

This requires a certain openness with/within the organisation, a willingness (trust) by those involved to disturb the status quo, and difference/variety to spark the creativity. Once triggered, the ongoing emergence requires an active network of communications with multiple feedback loops to sustain it.

Trust – Part 3: Planned and Emergent Structures
Tagged on:                             

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *