Saturday, September 14, 2019

Apply Gestalt Principles to Design a Self-Adaptive Digital Organization

Gestalt theories, psychology, and principles provide an invaluable angle for the management to understand perceptions & cognitions, business patterns or interconnectivity, etc.

Gestalt psychology or gestaltism is interpreted in psychology as a "pattern" or "configuration." Gestalt Principles describe how the human eye perceives visual elements. it’s known as the "Law of Simplicity," which states that every stimulus is perceived in its most simple form. Gestalt theories followed the basic principle that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. From a business management perspective, how to apply Gestalt principles to design a self-adaptive and learning digital organization by discovering patterns and understanding the intrinsic interconnectivity between parts and whole,

Come up with meaningful perceptions in an apparently chaotic world: Variety, complexity, diversification, nonlinearity, and interdependence, etc, are the very characteristics of the digital era. Gestalt psychology tries to understand the laws of our ability to acquire meaningful perceptions in an apparently chaotic world, to discover useful patterns and detect signals, to manage order from chaos. In the world with high velocity and uncertainty, there is known known, known unknown, and unknown unknown, it’s no surprise that once a while, the chaos swallows the order in a moment, and the digital seems to go wild. Be paranoid to think forward, but don't panic. The creative mind continues to discover useful patterns and understand the underlying configurations, apply Gestalt principles to come up with meaningful perceptions from the seemingly chaotic circumstances, and actively seek out fresh ideas wherever you can discover them. If you look at patterns, you will find that they are containers for articulating relationships. You can navigate from patterns to patterns to learn about a problem space, peel back the layers to figure out the root causes and solve the problem systematically.

The mind forms a “whole” with self-organizing tendencies: The central principle of Gestalt psychology addresses that the human mind considers objects in their entirety before, or in parallel with the perception of their individual parts; suggesting the whole other than the sum of its parts. Digital organizations are people-centric living systems with the tendency to be self-organizing for improving adaptability and self-renewal. From the economic and organizational point of view, people follow Gestalt principle to perceive the “whole,” are able to adapt themselves and their organization through a collaborative and peer to peer approach. Self-organization will occur naturally and most of the time without, or in spite of, external direction. Teams naturally gravitate towards self-organization, if not interfered with. The two fundamental system elements -structure and behavior co-working in every organism in nature and in every system designed by humans. The behavior points out the relations (actions/reactions) between the system and the environment; and the organizational structure points out the impacts (changes/ transformation) of environment condition on the business system. Digital organizations and their people must learn through their interactions with the business environment and make an adaptation for the future actions.

The part-processes are themselves determined by the intrinsic nature of the whole: The fundamental "formula" of Gestalt theory could be expressed as "there are whole, the behavior of which is not determined by that of the individual elements, but where the part-processes are themselves determined by the intrinsic nature of the whole.” The digital paradigm is associated with deep ecology. Consider the nature and organizations as self-organized but interlaced system which have their own purpose, and the processes are determined by the intrinsic nature of the whole. In reality, the problems of many traditional organizations are silo functions, incoherent processes, overly rigid hierarchy, fractal structure, or bureaucratic management style. Thus, to design a self-adaptive digital organization, the management needs to apply Gestalt principles to understand cohesive relationship between parts and the whole, to fine tune the fundamental business elements such as process, structure, technology, culture, capability, etc, and to ensure that the digital organization can strike the delicate balance between solid and flow, standardization and flexibility, and to improve business responsiveness and coherence.

Gestalt theories, psychology, and principles provide an invaluable angle for the management to understand perceptions & cognitions, business patterns or interconnectivity, etc. The digital organization of the future should be designed openly for unleashing collective human potential based on the comprehensive understanding of how human organizations ought to be contrived in the face of challenges and strategic imperatives of the 21st century, with the goal to unlock performance and drive progress.

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