Social collaboration at Edge of Chaos

An artist’s illustration that social collaboration thrives at the Edge of Chaos at the transition region between chaos and order. It could be anything! So much for bananas and so much for evolution. Source Copyright: Work Monkey Labs

Social collaboration, collaborative improvisations, and innovation happen at the Edge of Chaos. The Edge of Chaos is a state between ‘complete order and no order at all’. A state or a region where most systems (Biological, Physical, Economic, and Social) operate, adapt, evolve and grow between total order and complete randomness or chaos.

The transition phase between chaos and order and somewhere at the Edge of Chaos is where new dynamic life cycles are born. It is thought to be the epicenter of our evolutionary processes, where old local structures are broken and new patterns of organization are born. The systems become self-organizing and evolving on their own at this transition phase.

Social collaboration happens at the edge of chaos

One such system within the reach of all us is the Internet and its culture. The Internet provides the space for creative conversations to happen all the time. The people behavior and the current internet culture is reminiscent of this state – Edge of Chaos.

Social collaboration at the edge of chaos
Social collaboration at the edge of chaos

In a recent discovery, it is understood that even complex unsolved mathematical problems can be solved by collaborative social conversations among collective minds from all over the world.

People have understood that newer areas, ideas, directions, and angles would not have been possible, had they not bounced their thoughts and ideas with others.  For others, are people belonging to different disciplines and walks of life.  A sense of altruism fills the air and it pays to be altruistic.

Serendipity flows only quicker through a dense concentration of people (not just from a few bright minds) and our ability and capacity to solve our world’s problems only get enhanced.  We will continue to evolve and we have not reached our potential yet.

Collaboration had existed from time – immemorial with our own societies.  Internet dictionary defines the word ‘Collaboration’ as an act of cooperating or working together with someone to produce something.  A new relationship is born and thereby it is ‘Social’.  How we take this forward is on our hands.

Our millions of years of cooperation has resulted in who we are today as a species.  We have a social brain – a proven fact that the brain cells talk to each other and therefore we are social.  We believe and value all the fictional things of the world – Money, Status, Comforts and entertainment that has made us to cooperate with other.  We knew that when we cooperate, there is a mutual benefit of shared discoveries, growth, and development.

Social collaboration has scientific and artistic underpinnings

Social collaboration works on a shared understanding.  A critical understanding, which makes it worthwhile to look at it from a science as well as an art perspective.

Its scientific underpinnings have a strong foundation to look at it as an ‘Edge of Chaos’ system.  Just like other social systems, social collaboration breakthroughs happen when there is right degree of freedom and incentives to express your views and act with no bindings.

And at the same time your valuable perspectives has the dense networks, the trust and the reciprocity for it  grow and spread I think that’s the right  chaotic edge where creative breakthroughs can be unleashed and further developed for success.  Unless there is controlled chaos we cannot see new breakthrough ideas and innovation happening.

The three aspects

Further social collaboration depends on three aspects.  1.  Ties – this means the type of connections that exist between people, the connections could be family, friends or colleagues in an office.  2. The contagion – This means, what flows within these connections for example it could be love, information’s, news or it could be even germs and lastly  3.  The underlying behavior – This means how people behave when they interact with each other, have a huge influence on the success of the social collaboration network.

The art perspective

From an art perspective, social collaboration can be viewed as an arranged marriage between two individuals who are willing to cooperate. The ‘word’ social is quite important in collaboration without which the ‘courtship’ is not smooth.  Just like in a marriage where there is ‘Give and Take’ and initial courtship, social collaboration follows the same route for a meaningful, fruitful interaction and a mutual exchange to happen and last.

This is for the same reason it is often said that ‘Sharing a joke’ or ‘Poking fun’ with your colleagues is important for building the social capital which is the foundation on which social collaboration rests.

At work

Often the word social collaboration is used interchangeably with enterprise social networking.  Within a workplace context, both mean the same actually.  Social collaboration refers to a group of people interacting and sharing knowledge to achieve common goals.  Social collaboration can happen both on and off workplaces.

Please read our blog post on the social collaboration best practices

Moreover, social collaboration took an enormous hold and grip within the consumer world with many popular social media tools like Facebook.  It is heralded as a people’s revolution, ever since Facebook started to become popular world over.  Consumers cooperated with each to share entertaining stories and photos.  It may not be of fancy to the work world but the irony is that today’s social collaboration or enterprise networking tools have borrowed the functionalities and features from the consumer tools.

For Social collaboration to thrive and to be successful, it is essential to achieve the critical balance where employees group to collaborate and brainstorm for problem solving and yet continue with their solitary behavior for focused work. This alternating behavior should happen with ease. The existing structure and environment should not be too rigid to prevent people from collaborating nor too loose to create chaos. It is essential to strike the right balance and the sparks of collaboration happen at the edge of chaos.


Please go ahead to read what we have done so far to manage that knowledge on our blog. So far so good.