Coaching International Leaders to Succeed Collectively

The re-genesis of collective intelligence, our genuine capacity for collectively creating our future

Authored by: Sabine K. Henrichfreise

The Routledge Companion to International Business Coaching

Print publication date:  December  2008
Online publication date:  December  2008

Print ISBN: 9780415458757
eBook ISBN: 9780203886793
Adobe ISBN: 9781134047154


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What if by acceding only to our collective intelligence can we create a desirable future? What if through only meaningful conversations can we creatively discover new emergent possibilities? What if through only collective leading can we create and implement the necessary variety of actions we need to cope with the diversity of challenges we face? These questions emerge as some of the challenging features of today’s world of business coaching. Individual solutions, even if brilliant, seem no longer sufficient to cope with today’s complex business environment. Instead, we could make the ‘law of requisite variety’ one of our guiding principles of innovation and intervention. In 1956 Ross Ashby stipulated, ‘when the variety or complexity of the environment exceeds the capacity of a system (like an organization) to create the corresponding variety of answers, the environment will dominate and ultimately destroy that system’ (Ashby 1956: 202). Hence it follows that an organization or a group without requisite variety will fail whenever it encounters the unexpected and … die. We get a glimpse of the application of this law in business when leaders operate with a limited set of individual success strategies thus being unable to succeed within a different cultural environment or when they use previously fruitful ‘business solutions’ to manage today’s complex collective challenges. In order to help our clients to create that requisite variety of answers they need, we need to develop their ‘collective intelligence’.

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