Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Chaordic Leadership

I just encountered this term in one of Joe McCarthy's Gumption blog posts. According to Smart Leadership's article, " 'Chaordic' is a combination of two words: chaos and order. Hock coined the term to describe any organization, system or business that is 'self-organizing, self-governing, adaptive, nonlinear, and complex, and which harmoniously combines the characteristics of both chaos and order.' "

What I realized reading the Gumption post is that it is probably the best written description I have seen of the leadership style of Robert W. (Bob) Taylor (of NASA, ARPA, Xerox PARC, and DEC/SRC)--the best research manager I have been close to.

I won't repeat the blog post here, and I've just ordered the books that it's based on. I'll just say that I watched closely for nearly 20 years at PARC and DEC/SRC, and it really works. Bob got the best out of a fantastically talented bunch of computer researchers, and the computer industry (indeed, the country) is much the richer for it.

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Comment by Anonymous Joe McCarthy:

Jim: thanks for your interest, kind words, and elaboration on a topic of great interest (and import): the effective "management" of research.

In my experience, people with strong technical skills do not always have the high levels of emotional and social intelligence that I believe are required of a great leader in any discipline ... and so it's always helpful to know [of] good role models.

And I don't mean to single out [us] technologists ... I imagine that the domain skills developed in a great many disciplines do not often come with a correspondingly strong set of emotional and social skills ... and may even, perhaps, tend to be developed at the expense of such skills.

2:49 PM  

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