Innovation comes from the edge

“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over; on the edge you find things you can’t see from the center.” Kurt Vonnegut.

“Innovation comes from the edge, almost never from the centre. Sometimes it’s cool to live on the edge but for the most part it’s hard work. Things keep breaking. The business models are not proven. The procedures aren’t fixed. The models and metaphors are not understood by everyone. It’s difficult to connect with the mainstream. This is life on the edges.”          Harold Jarche

Jarche thinks development of organisations requires a partnership between managers on the inside, workers at the edges, and consultants beyond the edge. Amongst those “workers at the edge”, I’m interested in those who have taken themselves to the edge of authority. They no longer believe that hierachy is the only or best form for organising action, and question these presumptions when they appear in organisational behaviour. Nor are they just building networks as a self-protective reaction to hierachy, but looking for the ways networks and hierachies can work together.

Civil society will drive social transformation

Henry Mintzberg, a Canadian management educator, has written bracing critiques of management faddism, amongst these corporate strategy making and MBA-obession.  He’s started a series of e-pamphlets on the role of civil society in social transformation.

“Our governing structures are stuck in an 18th century form of individualistic democracy, while these problems require cooperative efforts, internationally as well as domestically. And don’t expect corporate social responsibility to compensate for corporate social irresponsibility.

Radical renewal will have to begin largely in the plural sector, albeit partly as a means of provoking reforms in the established institutions of government and business. Community groups in this sector are best suited to creating the kinds of social initiatives we require. A multitude of such initiatives are now underway, networked across communities through the social media”.

Community-based governance in social-ecological systems

Community-based governance in social-ecological systems: An inquiry into the marginalisation of Landcare in Victoria, Australia, 2006-10<spaån lang=”EN-US”>. PhD, 2011.  Using action research, peer groups of staff and members of management committees of Landcare Networks met to improve their effectiveness and influence in landscape change. Initial meetings identified a breakdown in collaboration with government NRM planners and programs, in particular with CMAs. Participants developed a critique of this situation, and initiated stronger advocacy and some activism on behalf of community interests. This change is theorised as a process of reframing within a community of practice, in which doubt leads to examination of failure and a search for more effective action. Analysis also developed a description of Landcare Network governance practice as supporting relationships of mutual responsibility that will maintain
the momentum of change across the social-ecological system.

I have the thesis here for download