Leadership in Chaordic Organizations: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Leadership in Chaordic Organizations

1st Edition

By Beverly G. McCarter, Brian E. White

Auerbach Publications

311 pages | 21 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781420074178
pub: 2012-10-17
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Supplying a clear vision of how to build high-performance teams, Leadership in Chaordic Organizations presents methods for improving operations through the application of complex systems engineering principles and psychological counseling techniques. Ideal for systems engineers, organizational managers, coaches, and psychologists, it addresses the fundamental issue of the human condition in systems development.

The book considers the dynamic variables inherent in the human condition and how they impact group dynamics. Helping you to demystify complex system behaviors, it details an approach to leadership that integrates elements of neurobiology, systems engineering, complexity science, philosophy, and evolutionary and social psychology. It defines complexity and its impact on the organization and also explains how conflict can actually be constructive in group settings. Sharing helpful tips on how to build trust in today’s environment, the book also:

  • Describes how the human condition affects group dynamics
  • Lays out current problems and outlines workable solutions
  • Shares a new vision of high-performance teams
  • Illuminates theory with applications

Illustrating what teams and collaborative groups look like in a decentralized environment, the text introduces a highly effective group communications process invented by Richard Knowles—describing its use in designing 3D Immersive Learning Environments that enable complex emergence in dynamic interactive simulations. It also discusses complex human systems (Wicked Problems) and the potential of multi-user virtual environments to provide the transformative vision needed to fully engage all employees in your drive to make your organization more effective, efficient, and sustainable.


For this book, Beverly Gay McCarter, and Brian E. White have gathered, organized, and interpreted an immense amount of information. They bring together the thinking from chaos and complexity theory, psychology, neuro-linguistic programming, and neuroscience, helping readers better understand the nature and challenges of leadership … .

—Richard N. Knowles,Principal and Organizational Anthropologist, Richard N. Knowles & Associates, Inc., Youngstown, New York

Table of Contents

Definition of Complexity and Its Impact on Organizations; B. E. White

Definition of Complexity

Complex System Behaviors

Surprising Emergence

Evolves on Its Own as a Whole

Acts Robustly

Thrives on Diversity

Many Factors at Play

Stimulates Different Perspectives

Ever Changing

Informs the Observer

Performs Openly

Internal and External Relationships Are Key


Sensitive to Small Effects

Exhibits Tight and Loose Couplings

Complex Systems Engineering Principles

Bring Humility

Follow Holism

Achieve Balance

Utilize Trans-Disciplines

Embrace POET (Political, Operational, Economic, and Technical) Aspects

Nurture Discussions

Pursue Opportunities

Formulate Heuristics

Foster Trust

Create an Interactive Environment

Stimulate Self-Organization

Seek Simple Elements

Enforce Layered Architecture

Human Behavior

Impact on Organizations

Overarching Fragility Concern

Recognize That Complex Systems Can Do Better than We Can

The Nature of Being Human; B. G. McCarter

Mind and the Brain: An Overview

Basics of the Brain

Mind, Body, and Environment Interaction

The Mind and Emergence

Images and Knowledge: What Is Reality?

Innate Dispositions for Survival

Beyond the Non-Conscious


Reason and Decision Making


How to Build Trust; B. E. White and B. G. McCarter

Perspectives on Trust

World Politics, Religions, and Fear

Biases of Individuals, Groups, and Organizations

Learning in Organizations


Perceptions of Reality and Power

Applying Laws of Power and Getting Inside

Types of Trust

Persistent Trust

How Your Emotions May Affect Your Trust

Interpersonal Trust When Not Face to Face

Trust and Inter-Reality Systems

Trust in Mental Health

Trusting with Limited Interpersonal Contact

Implications for Leadership


Collective Group Dynamics: A New View of High-Performance Teams; B. E. White


Characteristics of Traditional Teams


Cynefin Framework

Examples and Level of Commitment


Distributed Team Models

Serious Games/Virtual Worlds for Training

Difficulties in Distributed Environments


Exploration of Dissenting Individual Mindsets

Program/Project Management

Information Sharing


Organizational Learning

Implications for Leadership in Chaordic Organizations



Application of Theory; B. G. McCarter

Complex Adaptive Systems: A Reprise of Previous Chapters


Process Enneagram©


How to Facilitate Change in Organizations

Counseling Skills and Techniques

Specific Techniques

Core Values

Ground Rules

Evaluating Group Processes

Social Systems

The Individual

Changing Our Behaviors

Views of Reality

Human Systems:—What Makes Them Complex

Today’s Problems Come from Yesterday’s Solutions

The Harder You Push, the Harder the System Pushes Back

Behavior Grows Better before It Gets Worse

The Easy Way Out Usually Leads Back In

Faster Is Slower

Cause and Effect Are Not Closely Related in Time and Space

Small Changes Can Produce Big Results, but the Areas of Highest Leverage Are Often the Least Obvious

Dividing an Elephant in Half Does Not Produce Two Elephants

There Is No Blame


Wicked Problems and MUVEs: Understanding Human Interactions through Multiuser Virtual Environments; B. G. McCarter

Dynamics of Living Human Systems at Work

Psychology of Virtual Worlds

Next Level of Interaction and Learning

Narrative Structures and the Underlying Psychological Dynamics


Mini-Lexicon of Selected Terms

INCOSE Working Group Sidebar on Complex Systems

Quotations from The 48 Laws of Power

Research for Virtual Worlds’ Promotion of Oxytocin

On the Information Explosion

On the Deeper Impact of Virtual Worlds

Web Collaboration, Workspace, Blog Platforms




About the Authors/Editors

Beverly Gay McCarter is an award-winning architect of immersive virtual environments whose company, Human Mosaic Systems (www.HumanMosiacSystems.com), is located in Cary, North Carolina (Research Triangle Park). She received her MS degree in counseling psychology and human systems from Florida State University and her MFA in studio art from the Memphis College of Art. She is also certified in the areas of facilitating self-organizing systems for complex environments (the Center for Self-Organizing Leadership) and the design and architecture of virtual worlds (University of Washington).

While working as an independent contractor at the National Defense University in Washington, DC, she instructed faculty and Pentagon leadership in the navigation and use of virtual worlds, in addition to coordinating and executing the efforts of the Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds to bring the federal government into virtual worlds. McCarter is an architect/designer of 3D immersive virtual environments focusing on the psychology of the avatar and virtual worlds, the inherent complex dynamics involved, as well as the impact of the aesthetics of 3D immersive environments on complex human systems. She has advised the Pentagon virtual simulation teams, a solution provider for Linden Labs’ Second Life virtual world, and currently works in a variety of other immersive virtual platforms. As a facilitator, McCarter has worked with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, among others, facilitating group discussions untangling the "wicked problems" of social interactions that overwhelm today’s organizational structures.

McCarter is an award-winning artist, focusing on human dynamics and the inherent effects of complexity and the edge-of-chaos on human consciousness. Her work emphasizes the ability to "see" multiple perspectives and the complexity of who we are, and our relationships with others.

Through the integration of these areas of expertise, McCarter designs powerful immersive environments that enable self-organization and collaboration as well as a deeper understanding about one’s own perspectives or views of reality and those of others. She architects environments that understand the underlying complex human dynamics and help facilitate the building of relationships, bonding, and greater understanding, all of which help individuals collaborate as they make decisions in complex, ever-changing environments.

A sample of videos that expand more on McCarter’s work can be found at the following link: http://www.humanmosaicsystems.com/page1.php.

Relevant publications and presentations by McCarter include:

  • Lowell F. Christy, Jr., and Beverly G. McCarter. "Why Whole Systems Thinking Is Moving Beyond Engineering Backwaters." George Washington University. Research Program in Social and Organizational Learning. Washington, DC. January 29, 2008
  • B. G. McCarter, "Federal Virtual World Challenge: Description, Results and Discussion," Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds, Washington, DC, May 16, 2012.
  • B. G. McCarter, "Immersive Intelligence and 3D Data Visualization," Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds, Washington, DC, May 16, 2012.
  • B. G. McCarter, "Narrative Structures, Wicked Problems, and MUVEs," East Coast Gaming Conference, Raleigh, NC, April 25–26, 2012.
  • B. G. McCarter, "Federal Virtual World Challenge: Winner Demonstrations," GameTech Users’ Conference, Orlando, FL, March 28–30, 2012.
  • B. G. McCarter. "Designing and Facilitating for Living Human Systems: Wicked Problems and MUVEs." Second Life Community Convention. Oakland, CA. August 14, 2011.
  • B. G. McCarter. "Walking across Government Silos: The Power of Virtual Worlds." FISSEA. Washington, DC. March 25, 2010.
  • B. G. McCarter. "Center for Naval Intelligence: Virtual World Overview." Center for Naval Intelligence. Virginia Beach, VA. March 23, 2010.
  • B. G. McCarter. "Reaching across Organizations with Virtual Worlds." Social Media for Government. Washington, DC. March 12, 2010.
  • B. G. McCarter. "Virtual Simulations and Decision Making." Innovative Decisions, Inc. Vienna, VA. May 2009.
  • B. G. McCarter. "Complex Human Systems: Paradigm Shifts through Immersive Virtual Environments." United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15). Virtual World: Second Life. December 9, 2009.
  • B. G. McCarter. "Complex Human Systems and Immersive Virtual Environments." 2nd Louisiana Conference on Virtual Worlds and Higher Learning. Virtual World: Second Life. November 2009.
  • B. G. McCarter. "Social Aspects of Complexity: 21st Century Dynamics." Applied Systems Thinking Institute. Washington, DC. September 2009.
  • B. G. McCarter. "Social Aspects of Complexity: Self-Organizational Dynamics." 2008 Understanding Complex Systems Symposium. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. May 2008.
  • B. G. McCarter. "Complexity and Managing Change in Organizations." George Washington University
  • Research Program in Social and Organizational Learning. Washington, DC. March 2008.
  • Beverly G. McCarter. "Social Aspects of Complexity." MITRE (Boston, MA, McLean, VA, and Chantilly, VA). International Council on Systems Engineering New England Chapter (Boston, MA). March 12, 2008.
  • B. G. McCarter and B. E. White. "Emergence of SoS, Socio-Cognitive Aspects." In System of Systems Engineering—Principles and Applications, edited by M. Jamshidi. Boca Raton: CRC Press. 2009.
  • B. G. McCarter and B. E. White. "Collaboration/Cooperation in Sharing and Utilizing Net-Centric Information." 5th Annual Conference on Systems Engineering Research. March 2007.
  • William D. Miller, Gay McCarter, and Craig O. Hayenga. "Modeling Organizational Dynamics." IEEE International Conference on Systems Engineering. SMC. Los Angeles, CA. April 2006.

McCarter’s art-related publications include:

  • "A Mosaic for Jackson." Southern Living Magazine. February 2002.
  • Featured artist in Mosaic Techniques & Traditions: Projects and Designs from Around the World. Compiled by Sonia King. New York: Sterling Publications, September 2002.
  • Mosaic Matters International Online Magazine. November 2001.
  • Tennessee Arts Commission Magazine. December 2000.
  • Jackson Chamber of Commerce Magazine. December 2000.
  • Public Art Commission. Jackson and the Arts: An Outdoor Mosaic Wall Mural. Ned McWherter West Tennessee Cultural Arts Center. Jackson, TN. 2000.
  • Book cover for Social Welfare: A World View. By Katherine Van Wormer. Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1997.

Brian E. Whitereceived PhD and MS degrees in computer sciences from the University of Wisconsin and SM and SB degrees in electrical engineering from MIT. He served in the U.S. Air Force and for eight years was at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory. Dr. White was a principal engineering manager at Signatron, Inc., for five years. In his twenty-eight years at the MITRE Corporation, he held a variety of senior professional staff and project/resource management positions. He was director of MITRE’s Systems Engineering Process Office from 2003 to 2009. White left MITRE in July 2010 to establish a consulting service, CAU?SES ("Complexity Are Us" ? Systems Engineering Strategies).

White strives to help people change or improve their mindsets by communicating complex systems behaviors and complex systems engineering research knowledge, precepts, and principles where people (particularly stakeholders) are considered part of a system, system of systems, enterprise, or complex system. He accomplishes this by drawing on his twenty-eight years of experience working with corporate executives, middle managers, project leaders, technical staff, and academic colleagues in areas of complexity theory, complex systems, and complex systems engineering.

A summary of Dr. White’s professional activities in recent years follows:

  • 2010–2011: International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE)
  • Presented tutorial on Principles of Complex Systems Engineering at INCOSE Symposium 2011 (June 2011), INCOSE Washington (DC) Metropolitan Area Chapter (August 2011)
  • Rejoined INCOSE as senior member in July 2010. For INCOSE Symposium 2010, was invited to be on two panels (architecture and cyber-security)
  • Presented his 2010 IEEE International Systems Conference paper in the IEEE session
  • Chaired the above session and a complex systems session
  • 2006–present: Co-editor of a MITRE book series, Complex and Enterprise Systems Engineering, with Taylor & Francis.
  • Co-author of chapter: "Emergence of SoS, Socio-Cognitive Aspects." In System of Systems Engineering—Principles and Applications. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2009.
  • Co-editor and chapter author: "Enterprise Opportunity and Risk." In Enterprise Systems Engineering: Advances in the Theory and Practice. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2011.
  • Co-editor of book: Case Studies in System of Systems, Enterprises, and Complex Systems Engineering. Expected publication date: late 2013.
  • 2005–present: Authored and presented more than twenty conference papers in complex systems engineering. Selected citations:
  • B. E. White. "Managing Uncertainty in Dating and Other Complex Systems." Conference on Systems Engineering Research (CSER). Redondo Beach, CA, April 15–16, 2011.
  • B. E. White and P. N. Jean. "Case Study in System of Systems Engineering: NASA’s Advanced Communications Technology Satellite." 6th IEEE International Conference on System of Systems Engineering (SoSE 2011). Albuquerque, New Mexico. June 27–30, 2011.
  • B. E. White. "Let’s Do Better in Limiting Material Growth to Conserve Our Earth’s Resources."
  • Conference on Systems Engineering Research (CSER). St Louis, MO. March 19–22, 2012.
  • B. E. White et al. "Application of Case Studies to Engineering Management and Systems Engineering Education." Annual Conference, American Society of Engineering Education. San Antonio, TX. June 10–13, 2012.
  • B. E. White. "Systems Engineering Decision Making May Be More Emotional than Rational." Annual INCOSE International Symposium. Rome, Italy, July 9–12, 2012.
  • 2003–present: Further developed and augmented MITRE’s "Regimen for Complex Systems Engineering" to create what is now called the Complex Adaptive Systems Engineering (CASE) methodology.
  • Developed case studies showing the degree to which CASE principles are followed in important government programs such as maritime domain awareness and Census Bureau information processing.

About the Series

Complex and Enterprise Systems Engineering

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Management Science
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Project Management
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Engineering (General)