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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Peeling away the layers of your innovation reality

So do we have a clear understanding of where we are in our current innovation capabilities?

We have to establish a way to map our ‘terrain of innovation reality’ is not just how we are performing but what lost opportunities have slipped through. Why well simply because we lacked the awareness to seize on these opportunities when we first spotted them.

We have significant gaps in our innovation capabilities and competencies. Have you ever really audited them? Taken them through a structured examination?

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Achieving a more dynamic innovating environment

There is a growing need for having some dynamic tensions within the organization’s innovation system; this helps generate better conditions for innovators to thrive.

We are continually learning more about all the different tools, techniques, and approaches available for innovation that will certainly help in putting the learning tensions into our work, making them more dynamic, linked, and increasingly relevant to the work-to-be-done.

We do need to embrace a more open, experimental approach to explore and then extend concepts, tools or frameworks that seem to work. I say “seem to work” as each situation often needs different paths to get the best out of any innovation work.

Yet before we jump into all the frameworks and tools that are available, let’s think about establishing the “common” environment innovation needs. Set this up, and you have the potential to create those dynamics out of your innovation activity. Continue reading

Do you know your innovation fitness?

We seem to be facing a more Darwinian World. I’d suggest that today innovation is caught up in the survival race, where the bolder ones are more innovation fit and pulling further ahead.

We need many more organizations to get out of this survival trap and exploiting innovation in bolder ways, become fitter in their innovating purpose.

The harsh reality is this is becoming a very crowded, increasing uncomfortable place to be, as we reduce our capabilities to take a risk, too invest, to make those decisions that create more radical innovation.

If we don’t offer value creation, we become increasingly unattractive and not regarded as essential but simply become disposable, pushed aside by others, more nimble, aware, and innovative.

The more we play ‘safe’, the more we run the risk of being disrupted. We are failing to leverage much of the liberating power within innovation. Is our business world today is it so predictable?  No, it is well and truly ‘dynamic’ and evolving, and we have to respond to it in faster, more bolder ways. Continue reading

Understanding the Innovation Landscape needed for Enabling Technologies in the World’s Energy Transition

During this September to November 2019 period, I deliberately chose to have a 100% focus on the energy transition that the world is committing to as an undertaking, of reversing the rising global climate temperatures through a shift from fossil fuels to increasing commitments to renewables.

Renewables that give us greater sustainability and clean energy and dramatic reductions in carbon emissions.

I wrote twelve dedicated posts over this period, including this one, to highlight the important place innovation has within the energy transition that we are undertaking. View all the opening introductions on the “home page” and scroll down.

To have any chance to reverse these temperature rises there is an increasing emphasis on innovation solutions within the technology that is required for the Worlds energy system. Solutions are needed to shift from the world’s present reliance on fossil fuels to renewable cleaner fuels to stop the growing pollution and harmful effects of greenhouse gases (GHG) that carbon-emitting fossil fuels are causing to our planet and giving us global warming issues that are deeply worrying.

I drew down on many different resources to get my more in-depth understanding of an area that is partly passion and partly a business focus, but one resource has stood out for their detailed work on innovation and the energy sector’s needs. Continue reading

Focusing on Innovation for our Energy Transition we are all undertaking

When you are undertaking such a transformation in any system like energy, innovation becomes vital to inject new forces of dynamism and creative thinking to tackling such a change.

The energy transition that the world is undertaking is one of the most critical areas where innovation needs to be at its very best, that top of the game to make the level of change necessary.

The existing solutions found in wind and solar solutions jockeying to replace oil, gas, and coal, in our present electricity distribution, as well as our current customer solutions for managing our energy, will only take you so far in our need to change our energy systems.

If we are to meet the mandated Paris Agreement of 2015, where member states agreed to limit global warming to 2 degrees C versus pre-industrial levels by 2050, we have to look at every climate change mitigation we can find. We have to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80 to 95 percent of the 1990 level by 20150. Today the solutions are centered on decarbonization, applying digitalization, and switching to an energy system that is more decentralized than at present and it is finding imaginative, innovating solutions that become essential to achieve this climate change through the energy transition we are undertaking. Continue reading