Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Chaos and Jurassic Park

Written by: on April 11, 2013

Chaos and Jurassic Park

As I began reading Leadership and the New Science by Margaret Wheatley my mind was transported to the scene in Jurassic Park when Dr. Malcolm was demonstrating chaos theory to Dr. Sattler with drops of water.  But whereas the scientist in the movie seemed to accept that chaos meant we are at the mercy of other forces, Wheatley seems to think that our understanding of chaos and the new sciences will help us to incorporate reality into organizations.

We are trapped in Newtonian concepts when we need to be allowing quantum theories to determine our efforts in organizational structures.  The old understanding of boundaries, control and plans need to yield to self-organization, interconnectedness and relational realities.

Order is not rigid but dynamic.  I think of the traffic flow I’ve witnessed in Cambodia.  Buses, rickshaws, people, motorcycles and cars all competing with one another, with no restrictions.  There are no traffic lights or stop signs, even at the largest of intersections.  Those rigid structures would only slow the flow.  Instead, the government has allowed the  dynamic flow of traffic to continue – meaning that at times, one side of the road will have the equivalent of 3 lanes while the other only one.  There is an understanding built upon relationships that provide the equilibrium necessary to move through the intersections.  Room is made when needed or shared at other times.  The traffic has become “self-organizing.”

Our job as leaders is to provide clarity of purpose, vision and direction of the organization.  We need leaders who:

·         Develop identity and vision

·         Support each team member in their own growth

·         Give freedom to participate in creative ways

·         Help fine meaning

·         Provide understanding of the big picture

In the TV comedy, “My Name is Earl”, the lead character is guided by a sense of Karma.  Karma dictates his worldview and provides meaning to his life.  Whether it’s Karma or as some Christians say, “It’s all part of God’s plan” or the Latin American answer “Se Deus Quisser” (If the Lord wills), we all seek meaning and purpose for the shaping of our lives.

It might be that we create meaning ourselves, or find it with God, but as leaders, our job in a changing world filled with chaos which wants to be connected with all relationships, is to propel others forward with information and the freedom to retain one’s identity with a clarity which keeps fright and fragility at bay.

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