Daily leadership activities to leverage complexity. 3rd – Emergent Properties (The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts)

Taking care of Emergent properties is another task on top of understanding how changes in landscape impact teams and validating if the current structure optimized to deal effectively with challenges. Emergent properties are the scientific name of the saying “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. Emergent properties are properties that a group of people has, but individuals in the group are missing or have in much lower capacity than the group. 

Good examples of emergent properties developed by groups of people are a sense of belonging and security, creativity, support, complexity, cooperation, trust, scaling production, etc. Some emergent properties have a positive impact on the group, some of them will have a negative impact. 

As manager/leader your role is: 

1) To know of all the current emergent behavior of a group, including what are the positive and negative properties. 

2) adjust properties to current and future needs. Some negative properties might become positive over time and vice versa. Never remove a property, just reduce its capacity. You might need it. Spend daily time to make sure if any change needed and how you will address the need. 

3) Are there any missing properties that the group can develop for the future? How can you create those properties? For example, if the world is more complex, developing properties that enable decentralization will be beneficial. 

A group of people will create emergent properties, one way or another. Any group of people is a complex system. Complex systems use emergent properties to adjust themselves and survive in a more complex and changing environment. 

There are two ways to develop emergent properties. The first one is just let them grow and let the laws of evolution weed the properties that are not a fit for the environment. This process takes a lot of time and requires low levels of the need to control. The other way is to think about emergent properties and create the best environment for them to emerge. 

If you want to make sure any group is ready for the future and operating optimally, spend daily time on emergent properties. Grouping people together and not having the optimal emergent properties is a waste of time. They better work as individuals.

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