Pyramids and Complexity

The Context:

Systems thinking, nonlinearity, chaos, complexity and self-organization: these terms are increasingly relevant for organizations faced with turbulent economic, political and social environments. New approaches based on these concepts suggest the importance of creating organizational cultures that are adept at changeability, not just managing change. They reflect a growing awareness that organizations are complex systems and simple and linear understanding of relationships among elements is no longer sufficient. Perspectives and approaches that help people to have conversations and conduct analysis for the creation of meaning and action are increasingly important for the evolution of business. Meaning is the heart and soul of the learning organization.

In the face of complexity we have begun exploring models based on non-linear systems. We have been examining repeating patterns like fractals and asked ourselves a question: What are the implications of self-similar patterns over time? Paradoxically we have begun using a method for creating meaning through dialogue and story-telling that is based on a geometrical structure: a tetrahedron or loosely called a pyramid. In his search for stronger, more stable living structures, Buckminster Fuller developed a system of geometry that was based in part on tetrahedrons and octagons.

The Discovery:

In attempting to understand systems and interrelationships of their parts and other systems, we have discovered pyramids. When we say pyramids here, we refer to tetrahedral pyramids made out of card-board or plastic with corners, edges and faces identified to represent a particular system. By reading articles in this section and following the instructions, you can make your own 3-D pyramids that allow you to understand your system. Each context requires different approach to understand and reflect on it and different pyramids are created for different purposes. Till now, we have created over 100 different pyramid models for over 30 organizations in 6 countries. Our clients mentioned that pyramids allow them to clarify their thinking, create new shared meaning in groups, create dynamic business models understand new situations and evaluate risk map shared knowledge in a team think strategically and systemically represent collective learning manage polarities and bring out synergy in a team

In other words, pyramids allow people to understand simplicity on the other side of complexity instead of looking for ways that are simlistic!


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