March 27th 4pm Seminar ~ “The Third Space: Shifting the hierarchy of academia to release the best potential of science”

Title: The Third Space: Shifting the hierarchy of academia to release the best potential of science

Presenters: Kennan Salinero and Doug Kirkpatrick

Date, Time, Venue: 3/27/2019 @ 4pm-5:30pm in Alway M114, Stanford Medical School. 

Followed by a small group dinner, RSVP to SCG if interested: stanfordcomplexity@gmail.com

Description

Distributed networks, populated by individual agents following set rules, can create highly organized, scalable systems.  Indeed, many structures or patterns that mimic natural systems can be created using agent-based modeling (ABM) algorithms with scant rules – the cone shell pattern of cellular automata being one such example.  Humans, and in particular networks of humans, also exhibit patterns of behavior.  A shift in human-based systems to distributed networks for decision-making and self-organizing is part of the current cultural zeitgeist.  This can be described as a movement from top-down hierarchical systems where rules are created for each role, managing from above, to ‘flat’ organizations, where agency is given to individuals.  An extreme example of this is Morning Star, a tomato processing company, which began practicing organizational self-management in 1990.  At Morning Star, everyone is equally empowered to communicate, initiate action, innovate, and execute.  There are no bosses, only ‘colleagues.’

A common element between mathematical models for complex, self-organizing patterning and human organizational constructs in flat workplaces is the role of simple rule sets.  These rules, followed by individuals within a distributed network, create dynamic flows that can be both patterned and purposeful.  Indeed, many startups and ‘lean’ organizations are well-known for the need for individuals to wear multiple hats and fluid, fast-changing work flows, feedback loops, iterative learning curves, and rapid individual and group decision-making.

Academic science is by necessity a top-down organizational structure, investing time and attention from expert educators to educate and train the novice student-learner – or is it?  Considering the fluid nature of experimentation, discovery, and knowledge creation, academia might be better described as an open system of individual agents.

If this is so, what are the underlying decision structures in academia?  And why does hierarchy persist?

Kennan Salinero, principal founder of ReImagine Science, asserts that top research universities, while having individual areas of excellence, can be relied upon for tending to two core principles: status or reputation (supported by publication rates and other outward-facing metrics) and cash flow (in particular, grant acquisition, but also including alumni support).  Feedback loops clearly exist between these two drivers of success. Missing from this equation are self-regulators or rule sets that motivate interpersonal behaviors.  This can negatively impact cooperation and mutualism, and can lead to ‘bad behavior,’ severe power imbalances, and more.

What, then for science?  Within individual labs, the two dynamics that drive top universities similarly play out with publications as a necessary output for the success of graduate student or post-doc and the resulting success in grant acquisition for the Principal Investigator.

Doug Kirkpatrick, of NuFocus Strategic Group and the Self-Management Institute, is a recognized leader in self-managed, distributed leadership. After entrepreneur Chris Rufer founded Morning Star, the company adopted a dynamic, networked organizational system.  Almost thirty years of experience informs organizational self-management theory and practice.  The highly adaptable organization of peers that comprises Morning Star is based on two foundational principles of human interaction:  human beings should not use force or coercion against others, and people should keep the commitments they make to others. 

Doug created a ‘periodic table’ of organizations and practices that concern themselves with workplace culture, which can be accessed at  http://bit.ly/KirkpatrickFutureofWorkTable; his Huffington Post blog on great workplace cultures is at http://bit.ly/GreatWorkCultures.  His two books on the subject are From Hierarchy to High Performance: Unleashing the Hidden Superpowers of Ordinary People to Realize Extraordinary Results by Doug Kirkpatrick, Bill Sanders, Dawna Jones, Ozlem Brooke Erol, Josh Levine, Sue Bingham, and Anna McGrath, and Beyond Empowerment: The Age of the Self-Managed Organization by Doug Kirkpatrick. He is about to release a third book with Forbes Books: The No-Limits Enterprise: Organizational Self-Management in the New World of Work.

Kennan Salinero has written about new approaches to ‘doing’ science in ‘ReImagining Science and the Ivory Tower’ (bit.ly/ScienceandIvoryTowers); in Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, (2018) 50:1, 38-46.

In this interactive dialog, Doug and Kennan will present their respective experiences within both hierarchical and flat organizations, to explore, with the participants, what might be provided if a profound and courageous shift in academic structures were to emerge, to empower humanity to bring its highest intellectual and educational resources to bear on its current challenges.

2 Responses to “March 27th 4pm Seminar ~ “The Third Space: Shifting the hierarchy of academia to release the best potential of science””

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  2. باربری Says:

    ” This can be described as a movement from top-down hierarchical systems where rules are created for each role, managing from above, to ‘flat’ organizations, where agency is given to individuals.”
    Best action for a better future !!
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