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Reflection – Serkan Pektas

by on November 26, 2007

Thoughts about Jill Woelfer’s article on Jazz Metaphor

I have been thinking that the complex adaptive systems and the traditional organizations are two different management styles that have both unique application fields. For instance, in a software development company, the complex adaptive system management is more appropriate than the traditional system. Also, in a manufacturing company, traditional organization management style is more applicable. Of course there are not only black and white practices of those systems, but also various combinations of both systems. The combination of those systems can be found in one company according to department’s necessities and requirements.

However, I did not think about that those systems are the preference of the manager’s administration style, and both can be applied to same area with different managers like in Woelfer’s article on Jazz Metaphor. I have always seen Jazz as a good example of the complex adaptive system. Before all other properties, jazz is an art, and I thought that it cannot be fit in traditional methods. Though, Woelfer’s analytical comments on Goodman’s orchestra are the convincing proof of the counter argument. She also gives an example of the jazz band, Count Basie’s big band, which was followed the complex adaptive systems model. According to her, “Benny Goodman and Count Basie were both successful big band leaders whose organizations were served by the change management models adopted by their leaders.”

This article makes me think about that there is no unique way to manage a company, organization, and/or country. The difference between the Fordism[1] and the Toyotism[2] manufacturing style is the evidence of this reflection. The complex adaptive systems can also be applicable to the business areas in which traditional management styles are the best practices to run the company. The organizations adapt themselves according to their leaders and the success is depends on the leaders’ talent and decisiveness. The organizations are composed of individuals, but the organizations have an identity beyond those individual characteristics and what shapes this identity is the leadership style.

[1] Fordism is the method of industrial management based on assembly-line methods production of cheap, uniform commodities in high volume, and winning employee loyalty with good wages, but intolerant of unionism or employee participation.
[2] Toyotism depends on the culture of labor-management cooperation, multi-skilling and cross divisional problem solving, and the creation of such a culture is the first requirement.

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