Organizational Survival in the New World

1st Edition

The Intelligent Complex Adaptive System

Authors: Alex Bennet David Bennet
Print ISBN: 9780750677127
Imprint: Butterworth-Heinemann
Published Date: 19th December 2003
Page Count: 391


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In this book David and Alex Bennet propose a new model for organizations that enables them to react more quickly and fluidly to today's fast-changing, dynamic business environment: the Intelligent Complex Adaptive System (ICAS). ICAS is a new organic model of the firm based on recent research in complexity and neuroscience, and incorporating networking theory and knowledge management, and turns the living system metaphor into a reality for organizations. This book synthesizes new thinking about organizational structure from the fields listed above into ICAS, a new systems model for the successful organization of the future designed to help leaders and managers of knowledge organizations succeed in a non-linear, complex, fast-changing and turbulent environment. Technology enables connectivity, and the ICAS model takes advantage of that connectivity by fostering the development of dynamic, effective and trusting relationships in a new organizational structure.

This book outlines the model in chapter four, and then breaks down the model into its components in the next two chapters. This is a benefit to readers since different components of the model can be implemented at different times, so the book can guide implementation of one or all of the components as a manager sees fit. There are eight characteristics of the ICAS: organizational intelligence, unity and shared purpose, optimum complexity, selectivity, knowledge centricity, flow, permeable boundaries, and multi-dimensionality.

Key Features

  • Clear portrait of the successful organization of the future using latest research in knowledge management and complexity theory
  • Shows concretely how to design an organization that can successfully respond to constant change and uncertainty.
  • Practical examples woven throughout the discussion.


Senior executives in corporate and government sectors; professionals in knowledge management, organizational behavior and development, and systems theory; HRD and OD professionals.

Table of Contents

Moving Beyond the Bureaucratic Model; The Present and Future Danger or Why We Need To Change ; The Intelligent Complex Adaptive System (ICAS); Exploring the Emergent Properties of ICAS; Relationships Among Emergent Properties; The Learning Structure of the New Organization; The Action Culture for Success; The Four Major Organizational Processes; The Art of Collaborative Leadership; Creating Emergence; The Change Agent's Strategy; Strategy, Balance and the Correlation of Forces; A Tale of Two Companies; The New Knowledge Worker; Knowledge Management; The Learning Organization; Learning, KM and Knowledge Workers; Rethinking Thinking: Systems; Rethinking Thinking: Complexity; Knowing; Networking for the Bottom Line; Exploring the Unknown; APPENDIX: The Evolution of the Organization. GLOSSARY;BIBLIOGRAPHY;INDEX


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About the Author

Alex Bennet

Ms. Alex Bennet, internationally recognized as an expert in knowledge management and an agent for organizational change, served as the Co-Chair of the Federal Knowledge Management Working Group from early 1999 to January 2002. During this time period, beginning in October 1998, she was the Department of the Navy Deputy Chief Information Officer for Enterprise Integration with the role of Chief Knowledge Officer. She has a Master of Science degree in Management for Organizational Effectiveness and a Master of Arts in Human Development, is a member of the Delta Epsilon Sigma and Golden Key National Honor Societies, and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Human and Organizational Systems. Prior to becoming DCIO in fall 1998, Ms. Bennet acted as the DON Acquisition Reform Executive and Standards Improvement Executive. From 1994 to February 1998, she served as Director of Communications, Education and Training for Acquisition Reform on this joint government/industry/academia team, leading Acquisition Reform stand-downs and spearheading such innovative DON initiatives as the Change Through Ex-Change program and the ASN (RDA) Virtual Town Hall Meeting. During this time she personally mentored dozens of young executives. In 1994, through an exchange agreement between DON and the Department of the Treasury, Ms. Bennet spent six months leading strategic planning and development of the IRS Master Plan to educate 120,000 government workers, and designing and implementing internal and external communications for the IRS Director of Corporate Education. Beginning in 1987, Ms. Bennet worked with the Sea Lance Program Office, and then on the staffs of the Program Executive Office for Surface Ship ASW Systems and the Program Executive Office for Undersea Warfare. From 1982 to 1986 she was Public Relations Manager for Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. She has published over 500 articles worldwide, and is an editor of several books on KM and eGovernment, and an upcoming book on the DON

Affiliations and Expertise

Mountain Quest Institute, West Virginia, USA

David Bennet

David Bennet is a cofounder and member of the Mountain Quest Institute. His experience spans forty years of service in Navy Military, Civil Service and Private Industry. Mr. Bennet was a cofounder and past Chairman of the Board and Chief Knowledge Officer for Dynamic Systems, Inc, a professional services firm in northern Virginia. He and his wife Alex, are now building the Mountain Quest Institute: an Inn and Research and Retreat Center set in the Monongahela National Forest of West Virginia. Dave frequently speaks at knowledge management conferences and has authored many papers on topics such as knowledge management, organizational learning and the Intelligent Complex Adaptive System. He is the author of a comprehensive guide for the application of Integrated Product Teams that includes a 250 page virtual book and a System Dynamics Flight Simulator.He is a Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Pi Sigma, and Suma Cum Laude graduate of the University of Texas, holds degrees in Mathematics, Physics, Nuclear Physics and Liberal Arts.

Affiliations and Expertise

Mountain Quest Institute, West Virginia, USA


"Alex and David Bennet are ideally suited to bring forth such a wide-ranging and erudite synthesis of complexity and knowledge theories. A fascinating report from the front-lines of the new thinking about how organizations thrive (or fail to)." --Larry Prusak, Distinguished Scholar in Residence, Babson College, USA "If you want to know how the latest thinking about organizations all fits together to provide a roadmap of the future, you will want to read this book. It is provocative and original." --Dorothy A. Leonard, Harvard Business School, USA, author of Wellsprings of Knowledge "The job of today's manager is to invent the organization of the future. The Bennets have provided a launch pad.... They have synthesized the best of the past, current realities, and the challenging but as yet unclear environment of the future, which will require dealing with connectivity, knowledge management, speed, and uncertainty. Their approach, the Intelligent Complex Adaptive System (ICAS) is a blueprint for the manager of the future." --Charles Seashore, Fielding Graduate Institute, Santa Barbara, CA, USA "This book makes a great contribution to the quest for a new theory of the firm by introducing a very interesting model— the Intelligent Complex Adaptive System. By reviewing and integrating new insights from complexity and chaos research and cognitive and brain research, the Bennets demonstrate how to improve organizational intelligence and effort to create sustainable intelligent organizations in an ecological context. By implementing the practical recommendations throughout the book managers can increase their organization's intelligence and capacity for future knowledge navigation and improve its intellectual capital to ensure organizational survival in the new world." --Leif Edvinsson, The world´s first director of Intellectual Capital;