Focusing on moving from disorder in today’s world

To borrow and adapt a phrase from F. Scott Fitzgerald and those over at Cognitive Edge:The test of (complex adaptive) intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

I wanted to go back to one of my favorite frameworks, the Cynefin framework for partly thinking through the “known-unknown-unknowable” in our present world. We are seemingly more in the “unknown or unknowable” at present, perhaps in a world of disorder, in our understanding and actions relating to this coronavirus, a global pandemic.

The Cynefin framework is from Dave Snowden through Cognitive Edge. The positioning of Cognitive Edge is “making sense of complexity in order to act.”

I start by suggesting we need to find ways to navigate ourselves back into some (new) order; to stabilize the chaos we are in. What we first need to do is make sense of what is going on around us, we need to determine what actions to take and the level of action, resource and support each part needs. We need to constantly ask: is it clear, complicated, complex, or chaotic, or even worse, highly confusing. The Cynefin framework significantly helps us to determine what particular parts we are dealing with, in the decisions needed. Continue reading

Working through the current disorder we find ourselves in

In times like these, we need to “unfreeze.” It is a necessary time where we need plenty of adaptive thinking on our needs to start thinking how we are going to emerge out of this “lockdown,” so many of us are in and apply our reasoning to literally “crank starting” the economy engine again.

Even if this is one month, two months, or longer, we need to become creative and innovative. We cannot be held in this “frozen state” for long without looking to become economically productive again. It may be in different ways, in new roles, or in transition until we have a higher “grip” of what we can achieve in a very volatile, challenging world.

If we remain in our present states, then what I suggest as a ‘frozen state’ remains, we default back to what we know, based more on repeating patterns, believing everything is orderly based on efficiency, effectiveness, and doing what is necessary to manage daily. Well it is not, we are in chaotic and unpredictable times.

This, regrettably, is simply not good enough in today’s world as it has changed so radically in these last few months. Continue reading

The Energy Transition Needs A Structured Innovation Process

All of us are at present, caught up in the terrible spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). It is hard to think about other things when such societal and economic impact is hitting each of us every day.

In this period of such disruption, we do need to hang onto our beliefs, objectives, and goals, both short and long term. We are at a real point where we will be reshaping our economies, it is unlikely we will return to the ‘old’ normal.

Although we feel trapped in the present, worried over daily events and what they might mean, we must look beyond, we do need to look towards the future, to recognize there are challenges ahead but equally opportunities.

There is undoubtedly a time to find ways to come together. In recent years communities have become more polarized in their opinions, political positions, and choosing what to believe it. It is getting hard as truth is getting “blurred” more with this, often in such conflicting news.

A fact none of us can ignore is the planet, our world is undergoing significant change, and this is so much human-made. We can’t seemingly escape from daily occurrences of floods, famine, disease, and fires.

So far, 2020 has been a terrible year, the bushfires of Australia, the floods across many countries, the lack of rain, and the general “stirring” of mother nature. It seems mother nature is fighting back; it wants to bring the planet back into a balance.

One of our most significant challenges is to stabilize global mean temperatures. Continue reading

Recognizing different innovating capabilities to develop and grow

IFD Complexity WebA firm’s ordinary capabilities are the ones that enable us to perform efficiently and effectively, those essential routines and practices that often require having a high level of technical need supporting these activities.

In contrast, dynamic capabilities are those higher-level competencies that determine a firm’s ability to integrate, build, and reconfigure both the resources and skills to possibly shape, they have the power to transform, and then be deployed to meet rapidly changing business environments, to take advantage of these changing conditions. We need to seek out the dynamic ones and nurture these as they give us the real ability to grow and build our new capacity.

Recognizing the importance of Dynamic Capabilities

Dynamic capabilities are about selecting the right things to do and getting them done, while ordinary skills are about doing something right. The former implicates dynamic efficiency, the latter static efficiency.

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Cracking the complexity code

Cracking the complexity code of organizationsThere was a good article within the McKinsey Quarterly published way back in 2007 entitled “Cracking the complexity code,” written by three authors Suzanne Heywood, Jessica Spungin, and David Turnbull. It still has a lot of relevancy in my mind today.

They lead this article with “one view of complexity that holds that it is largely a bad thing- that simplification generally creates value by removing unnecessary costs.” Yes, we all yearn for a more simplified life, structure, organization, approach to systems or just reducing complexity in our daily lives to find time for what we view as improving its ‘quality.’

Within the article, they argue there are two types of complexity – institutional and individual.

The former concerns itself with the interactions within the organization; the latter is the way individuals or managers deal personally with complexity.

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Dynamics within the system are always dominated by the slow components.

The worrying thing is within any dynamics within the system they are dominated by the slow components, and the rapid components simply have to follow along.  Look at how larger organizations operate when they are discovering and learning. It seems to take for ever.

They will often wait while one part of the organization is reluctant to make a decision, even when their part of the ‘collective’ decision is not one that has real implications, it is that ‘they’ expect to be within the decision loop and will undermine any deicsion they were not partly too. So many ‘breaking opportunities’ get caught out in the lack of dynamics or that real energy and purpose to decide. It goes into a perpetual loop.The opportunity becomes a struggle to execute upon.

“Slow constrains quick, slow controls quick”.

The only way to ensure speeding up is to be more coherent on the purpose, clarify the bounds and governing principles that need to be enacted and expect delivery on a clear, set timing. If one part simply ‘sits and waits’ what chance do you have of injecting something that might have a real impact, it gets reduced down, it gets pushed back, to a point where an original idea is unrecognizable when it finally emerges. Continue reading

Organizations suffer constantly from unhealthy Innovation tension

How often do you feel the tensions surrounding innovation?  A tough part of managing within larger organizations is in reducing the layers and competing forces, the underlying tensions that innovation (uncertainty) brings out?

Hierarchy so often dominates or dictates the speed of what we do. That is so often set in weird logic and a shrug of the shoulders.

Confronted by the need for gathering facts, innovation often struggles as much of this takes significant time and is often outside the organization’s present understanding.

It is in the pursuit of logic, and often this lacks real (hardened) facts that hold innovation back, as it runs on a very different ‘timeline’ too much of our everyday organization processes or approaches.

In this post, I aim to tackle the question of “Reducing the tension in the layers or structures for innovation.” It follows on from a recent post I wrote on “peeling away the layers of your innovation reality.”

This is a more extended read than usual, about eight to ten minutes, so be ready for that, please.

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