I recommend participating in and learning with self-organizing groups themselves. You’ll find some of your group members in the pages of a book, article, or blog: a physically distant author whose experience and ideas so mirror your own yet expand your own that it gives you goose bumps. But those of us inclined to read first and hang out with real human beings later can’t stop there. Spend more time with and pay more attention to your own self-organizing groups and to nearby groups that you can personally see demonstrating energy, excitement, passion, creativity, and apparent relative fearlessness. What do you notice in these groups? What do you notice about yourself when you’re with them? From my perspective today, these local (close to us physically and/or close to us emotionally) groups of learners are the only experts we need to change our individual selves. As individuals, all we’re asked to do is change ourselves. As we change, we notice everything changing around us. It was as my self-organizing groups that I first noticed this and I just kept on noticing it until I believed it.
Here are a few books, articles, and blogs—those that have supported me and other self-org group members as we seek to understand our own experiences as self-organizing groups. I only update the list three or four times a year at this point, and today I only update it with the people and published works of groups and people I personally know, respect, love, and trust or with suggestions from my own self-organizing groups (which amounts to the same thing). Those I find most useful—because they significantly challenge and expand what I know as a group member and yet confirm our experiences as group members—are marked with an asterisk (*). You’ll notice that I’ve begun to add real human beings to this reading list. Reach out to those still alive. What have you got to lose? Don’t speak the same language? Then reach out clumsily, they’ll forgive you. Reach out with your heart and mind if the person is no longer living. They’ll still help. Most people are far less busy after death.
From the Organizational Development, Leadership, Business, and Management Fields
- Argyris, C. (1003). Knowledge for action: A guide to overcoming barriers to organizational change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Inc.
- Bas de Baar’s blog, Project Shrink, making complex people stuff less complex: http://www.basdebaar.com/
- Bellman, G. & Ryan, K. (2009). Extraordinary groups: how ordinary teams achieve amazing results. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
- Bolman, L. G., & Deal, T. E. (2003). Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice, and leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
- Bresnen, M., Goussevskaia. A., & Swan, J. (2005). Organizational routines, situated learning, and process of change in project-based organizations. Project Management Journal, 36(3), 27-41.
- Collins, J. (2001). Good to great: Why some companies make the leap and others don’t. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.
- Contractor, N. S. (1999). Self-organizing systems research in the social sciences: Reconciling the metaphors and the models. Management Communication Quarterly, 13(1), 154-166.
- Dave Snowden comes highly recommended by one of my self-organizing group members. Haven’t read formal published works by him yet, but I trust this group member. What’s in his blog is pretty good, but he doesn’t blog nearly often enough! Come on Dave! http://www.cognitive-edge.com/blogs/dave/index.xml
- Druskat, V. U. & Wheeler, J. V. (2003). Managing from the boundary: The effective leadership of self-managing work teams. Academy of Management Journal, 46(4), 435-457.
- *Geoff Bellman. I recommend spending time with him. You’ll be happy you did. One of the kindest people you’ll ever meet. He’s written a ton of books. His latest book is recommended above.
- Hackman, J.R. (2002). Leading teams: Setting the stage for great performances. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing.
- Hamel, G., & Prahalad, C. K. (1994). Competing for the future. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
Heifetz, R. (1998). Leadership without easy answers. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
- Holman, P. (2010). Engaging emergence: turning upheaval into opportunity. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
- *Kane, L. (2008). Fostering the emergence of self-organizing work groups. Seattle, WA: Seattle University. (This was an important 500+ page experience for me. Recommend for academically minded folks. For everyone else, I recommend the Collective Self blog instead. I’m getting less longwinded, and more brave, on a weekly basis now. My doctoral dissertation and my blog together prove this, if nothing else.)
- Lichtenstein, B. M. B. (2000). Emergence as a process of self-organizing: New assumptions and insights from the study of non-linear dynamic systems. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 13(6), 526-544.
- McDaniel, R.. (2007). Management strategies for complex adaptive systems: Sensemaking, learning, and improvisation. Performance improvement quarterly, 21-41. (Recommended by self-org group member Suzette Sparks)
- *Morgan, G. (1997). Images of organization. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
- *Nonaka, I. (2001). Creating organizational order out of chaos: Self-renewal in Japanese firms. California Management Review, 30, 57-73. (Love him!!! What a generous soul. Five seconds of talking to him put Japan on my bucket list.)
- *Peggy Holman. Spend time with her and her ideas. Her latest book is above. Think she’s smart and generous, and she rivals Karen Anderson for world’s best smile and kindest eyes.
- *Saarel, D. A. (1995). Triads: Self-organizing structures that create value. Planning Review, 23(4), 20-25.
- Smith, C., & Comer, D. (1994). Self-organization in small groups: A study of group effectiveness within non-equilibrium conditions. Human Relations, 47(5), 553-581.
- Stacey, R. D. (1996). Complexity and creativity in organizations. San Francisco: Berret-Koehler Publishers.
- *Wheatley, M. J. (1999). Leadership and the new science: Discovering order in a chaotic world. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
- *Wheatley, M. J. (2005). Finding our way: Leadership for an uncertain time. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
- Wheatley, M. J. (2006). Relationships: The basic building blocks of life. Retrieved July 10, 2007, from http://www.margaretwheatley.com/articles/relationships.html
- Wheatley, M. J., & Kellner-Rogers, M. (1996). The irresistible future of organizing [Electronic Version]. Retrieved March 6, 2007, from http://www.margaretwheatley.com/articles/irresistiblefuture.html
- Whetten, D. A., & Cameron, K. S. (2007). Developing management skills. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.
From the Field of Education
- Ayers, D. F. (2002). Developing climates for renewal in the community college: A case study of dissipative self-organization. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 26, 165-185.
- Bower, D. F. (2006). Sustaining school improvement. Complicity: An International Journal of Complexity and Education, 3(1), 61-72.
- Burrello, L. C., Lashley, C., & Beatty, E. E. (2001). Educating all students together: How school leaders create unified systems. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, Inc.
- Goldman, P., Tindal, G., McCullum, N., & Marr, J. (1999). Organizational learning and the culture of reform: Operationalizing the “organizations as brains” metaphor. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
- Goodman, J., Baron, D., & Myers, C. (2001). Bringing democracy to the occupational life of educators in the United States: Constructing a foundation for school-based reform. International Journal in Education, 4(1), 57-86.
- Kruse, S. D., & Louis, K. S. (1997). Teacher teaming in middle schools: Dilemmas for a school wide community. Educational Administration Quarterly, 33(3), 261-289.
- Louis, K. S., Marks, H. M., & Kruse, S. (1996). Teachers’ professional community in restructuring schools. American Educational Research Journal, 33(4), 757-798.
- *Zellermayer, M., & Margolin, I. (2005). Teacher educators’ professional learning described through the lens of complexity theory. Teachers College Record, 107(6), 1275-1304.
From Additional Fields and Disciplines (e.g., chemistry, communication, community organizing and advocacy, biology, physics, psychology, social psychology, health and medicine, and communications)
- *Arrow, H., McGrath, J. E., & Berdahl, J. L. (2000). Small groups as complex systems: Formation, coordination, development, and adaptation. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
- *Bateson, G. (1979). Mind and nature: A necessary unity. New York: E. P. Dutton.
- *Bohm, D. (1980). Wholeness and the implicate order. New York: Routledge.
- *Bach, J. (2002). Evolutionary guidance system: A community design project. World Futures, 58, 417-423.
- Burls, A., & Caan, W. (2004). Networking—social inclusion and embracement: A helpful concept? Primary Health Care Research and Development, 5, 1991-1992.
- Crowell, D. M. (1998). Organizations are relationships: A new view of management. Nursing Management, 29(5), 28-29.
- Gleick, J. (1987). Chaos: Making a new science. New York: Viking.
- Glenda Eoyang. Anything really. Nice collection of articles here: http://www.hsdinstitute.org/learn-more/library/articles.html
- *Humberto Maturana. Anything from him at all. Beyond genius in my book.Very, very dense reading (as a good academic should be, IMO), and worth the wade through. Every single time I read something of his, I am changed for the better (which, I am learning, is both inevitable and the point). Wow. Read this one recently: http://gfbertini.wordpress.com/2011/06/23/autopoiesis-structural-coupling-and-cognition-a-history-of-these-and-other-notions-in-the-biology-of-cognition/#comment-847
- *Kare Anderson. Anything from her really–twitter, facebook, linked in, etc. Blog is here: http://www.movingfrommetowe.com/. Unbelievably well connected to valuable ideas. Kind eyes. Emmy-winning smile.
- *Kauffman, S. (1995). At home in the universe: The search for laws of self-organization and complexity. New York: Oxford University Press.
- *Kauffman, S. A. (1993). Origins of order: Self organization and selection in evolution. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
- *Maturana, H. R., & Varela, F. J. (1980). Autopoiesis and cognition: The realization of the living (Vol. 42). Boston: D. Reidel Publishing Company.
- McClure, B. A. (2005). Putting a new spin on groups: The science of chaos. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.
- Nicolis, G., & Prigogine, I. (1989). Exploring complexity: An introduction. New York: W. H. Freeman and Company.
- *Prigogine, I. (1996). The end of certainty: Time, chaos, and the new laws of nature. New York: The Free Press. (I understand about 1/100th of what he says, but for me that’s plenty. He’s not with us, physically, anymore, yet he just keeps on helping me. His generosity knows no limits.)
- Sen, R. (2003). Stir it up: Lessons in community organizing and advocacy. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
- *Stempfle, J., Hubner, O., & Badke-Schaub, P. (2001). A functional theory of task role distribution in work groups. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 4(2), 138-159.
- *Taylor, J. R. (2001). The ‘rational’ organization reconsidered: an exploration of some of the organizational implications of self-organizing. Communication Theory, 11(2), 137-177.
- Waldrop, M. (1992). Complexity: The emerging science on the edge of order and chaos. Simon and Schuster. (Recommended by self-org group member Suzette Sparks, a true peach of a human being.)
thanks !! very helpful post!