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 … Continue reading Seven implications of complexity for organisations

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, … Continue reading Levers, blueprints and roadmaps: 3 tips to combat “dark” metaphors

Think like a Chef


The trouble is that, in my view, the continual bombardment of quick and simple recipes is doing nothing to teach us how to cook. We are in serious danger of becoming slaves to recipes, rather than having the confidence to be able to walk along a supermarket aisle, or look through fridge and cupboard, to … Continue reading Think like a Chef

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 … Continue reading Jungle vs Zoo – Reflections on change and resilience

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 … Continue reading It’s hard to survive in the jungle if all you know is the zoo

Narrative & a new theory of change – a workshop with Prof Dave Snowden


The number of failed change   implementations in large corporates are staggeringly high.  Our traditional linear and project driven change models simply aren’t sufficient in a world of continuous and disruptive change. People are becoming increasingly fatigued of processes that are aimed at “yanking” them to someone else’s preferred state.  We will explore using Narrative … Continue reading Narrative & a new theory of change – a workshop with Prof Dave Snowden

Maintain diversity and redundancy (Building resilience: Principle 1)


“Systems with many different components (e.g. species, actors or sources of knowledge) are generally more resilient than systems with few components.  Redundancy provides ‘insurance’ within a system by allowing some components to compensate for the loss or failure of others.  Redundancy is even more valuable if the components providing the redundancy also react differently to … Continue reading Maintain diversity and redundancy (Building resilience: Principle 1)

What I believe to be true about organisational culture


A client asked me to write down some thoughts about a complexity based approach to culture.  I thought I’d go ahead and publish some of my initial thoughts here as well. (I’ve woven together my own ideas with those of Dave Snowden & Dr Chene Swart – so much credit to them!) Thinking about culture from a … Continue reading What I believe to be true about organisational culture

Building the adaptive core of your organisation


A discourse that has been gaining prominence in business nowadays is around adaptive and resilient organisations.  Some of the world’s leading business thinkers like Prof Gary Hamel are making the case for adaptive capacity as being critical for businesses today.  In this HBR article the authors speak of Adaptive Advantage as the new competitive edge.   Similarly, resilience has been … Continue reading Building the adaptive core of your organisation

One sure-fire way to poison your culture


Sometimes I come across ideas in business that are just so counter-productive that I really cannot understand how they ever became accepted practice.  One such idea that I’ve seen wreak havoc on corporate culture is the so-called Forced Ranking performance assessment process (or as Jack Welch termed it “Rank & Yank“). In virtually every company … Continue reading One sure-fire way to poison your culture