Blog - Category: culture

8 guidelines to enable organisational fluidity

While preparing for my recent keynote at Agile Africa, I came across the work of Prof Adrian Bejan, a mechanical engineer who contributed to the field of thermodynamics through his constructal law, which is formulated as follows: “For a finite-size system to persist in time (to live), it must evolve in such a way that […]
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Seven implications of complexity for organisations

My last post was about Paul Cilliers's 7 characteristics of complex systems.  In this post I want to explore 7 of the implications of complexity that he thought was important for those working in and on organisations  (his original text is in italics). 1.Since the nature of a complex organization is determined by the interaction […]
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Levers, blueprints and roadmaps: 3 tips to combat "dark" metaphors

For those who follow me, it’s probably become apparent that I have a love for metaphors and analogies. Because much of what I do involves introducing others to new concepts, I find them to be useful “hooks”, linking the new idea to something familiar, thereby providing a “scaffold of mind” while understanding grows. Because of this, […]
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Want resilience? Nurture diversity.

One of the learnings from complexity that I find particularly valuable in the workplace is the need for a “requisite diversity”.   Too little diversity limits the system’s adaptive capacity and too much diversity leads to a loss of coherence. One way to look at this is the tension between efficiency and centralisation e.g. instead […]
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Walking with the elephants

Today I want to share one of my favorite analogies.  I use this in almost every presentation as a way to challenge the prevailing paradigm that priveleges expert design and control. There are two ways to lay out a park … ... one is to employ an expert landscape architect to design an ideal layout […]
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On mayonnaise and survival

I recently attended the 4th International Conference for Responsible Leadership, hosted at Gibs by the Albert Luthuli Centre for Responsible Leadership (University of Pretoria).  One of the highlights was getting the chance to facilitate a panel discussion on Complexity Leadership in South Africa with a group of highly respected local and international academics. Another was […]
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A short chronicle of 2016

I always admire those writers who have the discipline to publish consistently regardless of circumstance. I tend to write in spurts. I find that when I become really busy with projects and speaking engagements, my writing suffers. So in case you were wondering why I've been so quiet, I thought I'd write a short update […]
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Jungle vs Zoo - Reflections on change and resilience

In my previous post I introduced the analogy of a jungle vs a zoo to help us make sense of the complex contexts we face and the often ordered organisational structures and processes we tend to create.  In this post I want to explore this analogy further and look specifically at how change and resilience from the […]
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It's hard to survive in the jungle if all you know is the zoo

I recently posted a tweet that created an unexpected enthusiastic response. It read: “It’s hard to survive in the jungle if you were trained in a zoo” I love using metaphors and analogies to explain the concepts I work with, like the difference between complex (jungle) and complicated or obvious (zoo) contexts. This is one […]
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Connectivity or coupling: keep Goldilocks in mind (Building resilience: Principle 2)

My mother always said that nothing with a "too" in front of it is good.  That is certainly true about connectivity, too little and too much can be equally detrimental.  High levels of connectivity can facilitate the fast recovery of a system after a disruption, but at the same time some disruptions spread faster in highly […]
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