Join Dean DeBiase and Zappos's Head of Organizational Sciences, Forbes Contributor and author of 16 books, Pravir Malik, for a discussion about Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) and how AI, machine learning, light and love can help to create and incubate a more a resilient organization that will withstand the test of time.
In 2009, Zappos became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amazon as part of a $1.2 billion acquisition. Aside from the price tag and the fact that Amazon was buying one of its key competitors at the time, the acquisition was also notable for another reason – Zappos would retain its independence and unique culture.
While a lot has changed since the acquisition in 2009 for both Amazon and Zappos, today Zappos is still the number one seller of shoes online. In this episode of The Reboot Chronicles, I talked with Zappos's Head of Organizational Sciences, Forbes Contributor and author of 16 books, Pravir Malik. He shared some powerful insights about Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) and how AI, machine learning, light and love can help to create and incubate a more a resilient organization that will withstand the test of time. To understand how love can make organizations more resilient and open up unexpected avenues, it is first important to understand organizational sciences and complex adaptive systems.
Organizational Sciences: A systems thinking approach that drives organizations towards greater resilience.
Complex Adaptive Systems
All of the different groups that you can think of as autonomous units within any given system. For example, if you live in a robust city like Paris, London, San Francisco, New York, or Chicago – those are instances of complex adaptive systems. There's no single entity that controls the whole city. There’s a number of autonomous units that are independent and yet interdependent. Together they operate as one system through a kind of symbiosis. If there's a failure of any kind, the other autonomous units step in to address the failure. For example, if a business fails then other business spring up to fill in the void. Similarly, if there's a community that needs something, various organizations step in to provide resources or solutions. These interactions are often unplanned and happen naturally on their own.
Why are complex adaptive systems so crucial in organizations? Well, according to Pravir, the future is unknown and the world itself is very complex today. We’re long past the stage where traditional planning works. This is where complex adaptive systems can help to create resilient organizations. Translating these systems into a business environment means creating a portfolio of different activities and experiments that all interact and reinforce each other. This in turn lets the market and data tell organizations what’s working and what isn’t. Sometimes, this approach is what is really needed for an organization to step out of a difficult period.
How does the notion of love enter the equation? From Pravir’s perspective, love is a deeply ingrained force that exists in all systems and it exists in us as human systems. We have all felt love at some point in our lives and it has changed the way that we experience life when it is alive. As he puts it:
“The act of love – the act of self-giving to each other can create a foundation on which something else can emerge.”
As such, love is powerful force in complex adaptive systems. If you disaggregate what love is – it is a union of diverse forces such as knowledge, harmony, service, and power. Taking it a step further and thinking about just the day-to-day, then the question becomes: To what extent can we go back to those fundamentals – why do we exist or why did a business set itself up as a business in the first place? This requires recognizing the person standing in front of us is a unique individual with a unique set of principles that drive them. That is the essence of incorporating love.
How can an organization allow love to flourish?
Allowing love to flourish requires a recognition that everyone and everything is fine. In other words, everything is important and there should be no filters dictating that X is good or Y is bad. More significantly, the focus should be on how and why are X and Y interacting with everything else – and how organizations can take these interactions to address arising needs or use them as an opportunity foster evolution and create the feeling of being alive when love exists.
The end result would allow organizations to create systems that not only seek selling one more product sold or generating one more dollar of profit, but rather seek engagement and understanding of fundamental forces within us to create a framework that can endure and adapt in unknown situations.
About The Reboot Chronicles Podcast
Hosted by Dean DeBiase, The Reboot Chronicles is a popular no-holds-barred podcast on iHeart Radio, iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts and YouTube that has been bringing together CEOs, entrepreneurs, authors, and global leaders, for over a decade, to discuss how organizations are rebooting their leadership-competitiveness of everything from growth, innovation, and technology to talent, culture, and governance. Tune in wherever you listen to podcasts or at https://www.revieve.com/rebootchronicles
Named a "Growth Guru" by Inc. Magazine, Dean DeBiase is a Faculty Member at Kellogg School of Management and Silicon Valley serial CEO, where he has served in chief executive and chairman roles of more than a dozen emerging growth companies, CEO of Fortune 500 subsidiaries, and a director on public, private, family-enterprise, CVC, PE and VC boards. He is a Technology Fellow at Northwestern University, a Board Leadership Fellow at The National Association of Corporate Directors, and an Advisor to the National Science Foundation. A Forbes Contributor and co-author of the best-selling book The Big Moo, Dean, is working on his next book, Dancing with Startups. Connect with Dean here: www.linkedin.com/in/FollowDean