Work is getting more and more knowledge intensive. There are more variations to products and services than before. More parties are interacting in creating the offering utilizing digital work environments. The end result is often a creative solution personalized to meet the requirements of a single customer. The lines blur between producers and consumers changing the roles of both

Managerial behaviour that was successful in simpler environments is not creating the same results any more. If organizations still need to be managed, then what is it that needs to be done and by whom?

Complex organizations are neither products of random experimentation, nor can they be perfectly designed beforehand  and managed efficiently top down. The Internet could not have been designed top down, nor can any living organism be planned from outside.

What is going on in these cases is called emergence. Interaction itself has the capacity to create emergent structure, coherence, consistency and change.

There are thresholds for emergence: first threshold is diversity. Diversity was a requirement for development of life, as multiple perspectives are an essential requirement for the knowledge based organization. Second threshold is the richness of connections. Coherent action and novel approaches emerge when fragmented information sets and compartmentalised people are connected in enriching interaction.

Connections are not enough. Third threshold is true conversation. For connected thinking to occur, for both sides to find meaning in the interaction, participants must create a common context: What is it we are here to do? This takes time. Conversations cannot be hurried. Conversations cannot be tightly scripted and agenda based meetings separated from the practice of work. Knowledge work is talking and listening! The real challenge today is slowing down our thinking processes and increasing awareness of the thinking behind our actions and the assumptions behind our thinking. What questions are asked? What is the quality of interaction? Who is included in the conversations, who is excluded?

Knowledge based value creation requires new ways of seeing. New ways of looking at work, management and organizing. Understanding companies as complex, creative patterns of relating in time, constitutes a new way of seeing. Looking at today’s products and organizations, separating function from form, separating knowledge and interaction from structures and hierarchies, is a way of looking afresh at the deepest essence of business.

Looking afresh at the foundations of management is looking at the quality and temporal dynamics of relating in all interactions, all the time. This is responsibility of everyone. Management is thus not only for managers any more!