Facing the scary (but exciting) boundary between competence and incompetence


“This is not just an era of change; it is increasingly a change of era.” y General Sir Nick Carter, head of the British Arm I tend to avoid using the term VUCA; it has become overused (particularly by consultants) and increasingly is ‘just another buzz word’. It is, however, interesting to reflect on why … Continue reading Facing the scary (but exciting) boundary between competence and incompetence

7 lessons I’ve learnt consulting as a “complexity practitioner”


I’ve now been using a complex and emergent approach to consulting for around 17 years.  A friend of mine read me his coaching “manifesto” recently including his approach to internal change consulting.  It made me think about what I’ve learnt about using this approach so I decided it might be useful to reflect on them … Continue reading 7 lessons I’ve learnt consulting as a “complexity practitioner”

7 Differences between complex and complicated


Decision-makers commonly mistake complex systems for simply complicated ones and look for solutions without realizing that ‘learning to dance’ with a complex system is definitely different from ‘solving’ the problems arising from it. – Roberto Poli Many people believe that complexity is just higher order complicatedness i.e. that there is a continuum and that the difference … Continue reading 7 Differences between complex and complicated

All that jazz … making coherence coherent


One of the assertions I make quite often nowadays, is that we need to move from focusing on alignment, to focusing on coherence.  I’ve found it interesting that out of all the potentially controversial statements I make, this one seems to generate an inordinate amount of questions and disagreement.  It is understandable as this notion … Continue reading All that jazz … making coherence coherent

Why we suck at “solving wicked problems”


Problems: Wicked, complex, intractable or adaptive  … whatever we choose to call them, we seem to suck at solving them and we often get profoundly overwhelmed and stuck.  I believe the reason for this is hidden in the language I used in the title and previous sentence  (… and no it’s not the adjectives … … Continue reading Why we suck at “solving wicked problems”

The peripheral; extravagance; and paradox: Whistler reflections by Renée Koch


I asked my friend Renée Koch, who was a faculty member at the Whistler Retreat earlier this year, to contribute a guest blog reflecting on her experience and learning at the retreat and beyond.  I love her focus on the peripheral; extravagance; and paradox.   What struck me is how the notion of extravagance again challenges … Continue reading The peripheral; extravagance; and paradox: Whistler reflections by Renée Koch

How organisational OCD is stamping out innovation and agility


Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a debiliatating anxiety disorder that can have devastating consequences for the individual that suffers from it. I think there is a similar disorder that organisations suffer from … I call is Obsessive Certainty Disorder.  It too is linked with anxiety and the need for control.   And it too has devastating consequences, … Continue reading How organisational OCD is stamping out innovation and agility

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 … Continue reading 8 guidelines to enable organisational fluidity