Tag Archives: complexity

Are we embracing Complexity and Agility too late? #orgdna #globalchat SAT 8.25.18 1-3pGMT

The 21st century has a breakneck feel. It’s increasingly difficult for organizations to stay apace. We try to focus on the work before us, but our attention is continually flooded with every option imaginable. The sum total of our collective/industry knowledge taunts us, always just a few clicks away. And that’s before Google and social media factor in.

Ideas are everywhere, but our ability to prioritize them is strained.

How can individuals and teams be expected to function? How can organizations thrive?

Amid this torrent, notions of complexity and  agility are intriguing. Could they represent better ways to navigate the flood of ideas? Most experts and academics say ‘yes’.  Unfortunately, the words get dropped into meetings and board rooms like all the latest buzz words. Yet both concepts hint at important, underlying themes:

  • Complexity is a paradigm shift in how we see the world, less focused on empirical cause and effect, more on networks of interdependent actors that can learn and co-create organically; it’s where the whole can’t be predicted by the sum of the parts; where initial conditions and critical mass play key roles; where new thinking, under the umbrella of emergence, marks new pathways for adaptation, aka continuous improvement
  • Agility is a paradigm shift of it’s own, whereby organizations become more nimble in response to change; trust regains center stage; adaptation becomes a critical skill; incremental approaches open new ways to solve problems

Changes like these are at once exciting, and daunting. Our ability to work together and learn together is at the core in our #futureofwork. I believe Complexity and Agility are integral aspects of how work needs to get done in a highly interdependent world. So, for me, it’s critical that we understand these concepts, embrace them, and put them to work.

Are we taking on these challenges too late? Let’s discuss.

In our 8/25/18 #orgdna #globalchat, we’ll examine Complexity and Agility in the context of the #futureofwork , with a focus on key initial conditions:

  • Q1. Trust Networks. Why is trust needed for collaborative dialog to emerge? To enable agility?
  • Q2. Agile and the Price of Speed. Can a simple methodology help organizations move faster? Within what constraints?
  • Q3. Small Wins. What makes notions like “minimum viable product” so essential?
  • Q4. Adaptive Governance. Can there be oversight without bureaucratic grid lock? What is the new role of leaders? Do we still need Kotter-style coalitions?
  • Q5. Making Sense of Complexity. Why is this a critical 21st century organizational skill? What are its elements?
  • Q6. A Collaborative Culture. Why is an organization’s collective mindset an important initial condition? What are the complexity implications? Can culture be influenced?

Lots to talk about. And it’s going to be a journey. This outline will inform follow-on conversations, like these.

In fact, we’ll continue to unpack the #futureofwork through the lens of social complexity each month, now on 3rd or 4th Saturdays, from 1-3pm GMT, which is 9-11am EDT. Stop in at any point during the 2-hour conversation. Can’t make that time? Feel free to tweet thoughts/inputs/comments using hashtags #orgdna #globalchat, or post comments to this blog.

It’s been a great exchange to date. We’re 6-years in, and gaining momentum. Transcripts of our conversations abound.

We hope you’ll join us for the next one. See you online!

– Chris Jones, aka @sourcepov, Charlotte NC

 

How does a Twitter Chat work?  We recommend a streaming app like TweetDeck. Just append #orgdna to your tweets adding #orgdev #agile #agility #complexity and/or #futureofwork to specific tweets, as relevant, to expand the thread. Sometimes we’ll chat in the #orgdna stream in real-time, like a flash mob, with insights just popping up.  But for the in-depth discussion, join us at the appointed hour on Twitter.

What is #orgdna?  It’s a self-selecting community of #orgdev thinkers, discussing collaborative aspects of the organization since 2012. 

What is a Global Chat?  This may be the first one.  Many challenges facing the modern organization are global in nature, or in impact. I’m hoping #orgdna can make #globalchat a more frequent and welcome exchange, with increasing scope of participation and value.

Do we have a Master Agenda?  Yes, but it’s evolving, as we learn more. We’ve captured many of our ideas and themes to date using Coggle. Our roadmap is posted on this site (CC4-BY-SA). Have a look, and share your thoughts.

 


Our Coggle Debut: Join the conversation, as #orgdna maps the Future of Work 10/16/17

First, props to Jamie Billingham for introducing us to Coggle, a mind mapping tool that’s allowed us to capture our preliminary thoughts on the Future of Work.

Now, what’s all the buzz about?

Inspired by Deloitte’s Tom Friedman interview back in July, we’ve started to reflect: What will the future of work look like? How can we shape it? What’s already happening to drive these changes?

Here’s the first “snapshot” release – what we have so far – for reflection and discussion.

ORGDNA_FutureOfWork-v1-OCT2017

For more in depth viewing, here’s a link to the ORGDNA-FutureOfWork v1 PDF version.

Let’s use our MON 10/16/17 chat, 9-10:30pm ET, to dive into this. We can discuss what we’ve captured so far using Q’s 1-4. Are we good with:

  • Q1. To the left, initial conditions: Stakeholders, Trust & Culture?
  • Q2. To the right, outcomes: Platform & Learning?
  • Q3. At the top, unsolved problems; Silos & Transparency?
  • Q4. At the bottom, enablers: Technology?

And then to chart our course for 2018

  • Q5. What can we learn from this model?
  • Q6. What’s next?

We’d love your input. Just drop us comments on this post, or to individual members tweeting at #orgdna. In fact, it’s probably easiest to simply join the conversation (details below).

Lot’s to talk about .. looking forward to where we might take this.

–  Chris Jones @sourcepov in Charlotte NC

 

ABOUT THE GROUP. Over the last 5 years, a self-selecting band of OD thinkers has been discussing the future of the organization, using hashtag #orgdna. The number of active contributors seems to hover around 20-25.

ABOUT THE TWITTER CHAT. On any given month, 5-10 of us come together on Twitter, as available,  for conversation. Please join us. The chat is open to all. For the chat itself, we recommend a tweet streaming app like TweetDeck. Just add #orgdna (and optionally, now, #futureofwork) to your tweets, and we’ll see you at the appointed hour.

ABOUT THE TOPIC. Much is being said on “the future of work” and its unfolding dimensions. Don’t miss Deloitte’s recent Tom Friedman interview, hosted by Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert and their senior strategist John Hagel.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR. A thinker, instigator, and explorer of edges, Chris Jones has been unpacking the forces inside organizations for 30 years. Look for more here on the #orgdna blog, on Medium – or for his deepest dive to date, over on Amazon.


Social Complexity: Inside the #futureofwork with #orgdna 9/18/17

Our August #orgdna chat was a deep dive on the #futureofwork, with the transcript posted here.

One area we touched on was social compexity, a modern, relatively robust way of looking at the forces at play inside the 21st century enterprise. To get us thinking about this exciting area, let’s contrast it with older models.

Consider two extremes:

  • Old hierarchical models. Not unlike a factory, control is administered via top down decision-making, seeking to drive efficiencies and compliance through standard practices. Variance is minimized in order to deliver according to a master plan. Assumptions are routinely made about cause and effect. Emphasis on structure. Works well when manufacturing widgets. Less effective at mobilizing a workforce.
  • New social complexity models. Diverse actors across an organization work together in countless interactions to produce change or ’emergent’ results. Actions can’t be directly controlled, but the conditions can be influenced. Cause and effect are not the focus. Emphasis is on flow. Provides the broad possibility of new thinking, on an accelerated basis.

To me, this is breakthrough-level material. Among OD practitioners, these ideas come up for discussion often. But how can we bring social complexity into real time? What factors make it work?

Let’s discuss:

  • Q1. How do independent, diverse Stakeholders change org dynamics?
  • Q2. Why do System & Design Thinking shift our thought processes toward complexity?
  • Q3. How do Patterns and Simple Rules (e.g., culture) work in a social system?
  • Q4. How do Initial Conditions impact our success?
  • Q5. Why do the quantity and quality of Connections play a major role?
  • Q6. Why does Adaptability – for both learning and change – become a differentiator?

To capture our ideas, there’s a mind map coming together, using Coggle, courtesy Jamie Billingham. I am hoping our chat on social complexity will help inform broader discussions on the future of work.

Trouble keeping track? We produce and tweet links to a transcript, courtesy John W. Lewis at Holosoft.

So, please join us Monday 9/18 from 9-10:30pm ET. We’re putting a dent in these exciting topics. And it’s always a lively conversation.

Best,

Chris (aka @sourcepov) Charlotte NC

 

ABOUT THE GROUP. Over the last 5 years, a self-selecting band of OD thinkers has been discussing the future of the organization, using hashtag #orgdna. The number of active contributors seems to hover around 20-25. On any given month, you’ll find 5-10 of us actually come together for conversation. Please join us. The chat is open to all. For the chat itself, we recommend a tweet streaming app like TweetDeck. Just add #orgdna (and optionally, now, #futureofwork) to your tweets, and we’ll see you at the appointed hour.

ABOUT THE TOPIC. Much is being said on “the future of work” and its unfolding dimensions. Don’t miss Deloitte’s recent Tom Friedman interview, hosted by Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert and their senior strategist John Hagel.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR. A thinker, instigator, and explorer of edges, Chris Jones has been unpacking the forces inside organizations for 30 years. Look for more here on the #orgdna blog, on Medium – or for his deepest dive to date, over on Amazon.


Laloux Part 3: Evolution, Purpose and Complexity MON 7/17 9pET #orgdna

 

Interest in Frederic Laloux’s 2-book series on “Reinventing Organizations” continues at #orgdna. His traditional 2014 business book favors the long form analysis with case studies, end notes, etc. The 2016 illustrated workbook introduces the concepts in a lighter-weight mode, ideal for visual learners .. and twitter chats.

Try to find Laloux’s RO-illustrated (2016) .. we’ll be referring to it.

Meantime, by request of the group, I’ve expanded the frame below to include more detail, to facilitate chat without the book(s) in hand. Let’s look at 6 key ideas in Laloux’s Part 3, his closing analysis:

  • RETHINKING VISION & STRATEGY. Laloux says our century-old predict-and-control mindset, rooted in ego, is the main force blocking better organizations. Obsessing on competition out of fear for survival, he believes, keeps us distracted. But he provides an alternative — Q1. How does a “sense and respond” change problem solving in an organization?
  • EVOLUTIONARY PURPOSE. Citing Brian Robertson of Holacracy fame, Laloux references the analogy of a bicycle ride to describe the discovery and response aspects of adaptive leadership, new processes essential to a teal organization, so let’s ask — Q2. Can the modern company allow the destination, strategy & purpose to evolve? Will Wall Street entertain so much ambiguity?
  • INITIAL CONDITIONS. For Laloux, two conditions are necessary for an organization to evolve: buy-in to teal principles from (a.) leaders and (b.) owners. Are both of these key groups prepared for risk taking, less structure and fundamentally new thinking? Laloux says it’s what’s needed to launch successfully, prompting — Q3. Is buy-in at the top enough, or is more required, such as an enabling culture?
  • HOLDING SPACE. A new skill for teal leaders is bringing and sustaining focus, at least for awhile, amid the chaos that decentralized decision-making can bring, taking us to — Q4. How and when does a leader know to focus, and for how long must it be held?
  • KEY ROLES. While teal CEOs make fewer strategic decisions, the need for leadership is stronger than ever, so — Q5. What current skills can be leveraged as today’s business leaders search for a path to new roles?
  • A SIMPLER WAY. Laloux cites Wheatley, as many of us do, for providing breakthrough thinking on how orgs need to function, using the metaphor of an org as organism over the prevailing metaphor of org as machine. In the organic view, evolution and adaptation are integral to how things work, so let’s ask — Q6. Can new mindsets or metaphors influenced/sparked by complexity thinking help us re-imagine the organization?

Much of this material we’ve covered in past conversations. But Laloux’s framework builds on the ideas in interesting ways, perhaps even actionable ones. I’m excited to find what we’ll learn from this, and where our dialog may take us.

Please plan to join us MON 7/17 at 9pm EDT. We recommend a streaming app like Tweet Deck. Just add #orgdna to your tweets, and we’ll talk then.

Best,

Chris Jones @sourcepov, Charlotte NC US


Frederic Laloux: On Reinventing Organizations, an Evolutionary Model

Many of us talk about change in our organizations, but few have been able to articulate a future state as clearly as Frederic Laloux. In Reinventing Organizations, he outlines a vision, examined both in historical context, and in contrast with other proto-evolutionary stages. For me, his comparitive approach is a useful mechanism to discuss a family of organizational cultures that are as familiar as they are dysfunctional.

I was introduced to the work of Laloux by #orgdna chat member/leader Christy Pettit (aka @odguru). I quickly found his content consistent with the theme’s we’ve been discussing. Thanks Christy!

Perhaps his most divergent, if not revolutionary, idea? Evolution driven by a next stage human of consciousness, further fueled by explicit linkages to complex adaptive systems. Echoes of Senge and Scharmer here of course. Definitely linkages to Wheatley. But there is some useful new thinking as well.

Here are 5 questions to frame our conversation. As always, we may diverge a bit ourselves, as the dialog evolves:

  • Q1. Evolutionary Purpose. A core theme for Laloux. Are his ideas actionable?
  • Q2. Teal, Amber, Red, et al. Do the colors used for Laloux’s organizational models resonate?
  • Q3. Linkages to Human Consciousness. This is a big step. Does it advance our thinking? Or distance it? [Note: The shift Laloux describes is fundamentally a change from Fear/Scarcity to Trust/Abundance. For me, in this more specific context, the abstract leap isn’t quite as hard to navigate as the ‘consciousness’ reference implies.]
  • Q4. Linkages to Complex Adaptive Systems. The implications for orgs and social change keep us wanting to learn more. How has Laloux advanced this?
  • Q5. Forward. What happens next? Are leaders and their organizations ready?

Lots to reflect on, for certain. And lots worth discussing.

Please join us Monday, 5/15/17, at 9:30pm ET, as we discuss Laloux and his ideas. Just add #orgdna to your tweets at the appointed time. To allow conversation, we suggest a streaming app like Tweetdeck, to make sure you see the tweets as they come in.

What is #orgdna !? It’s not just a hashtag. It’s a lively bunch of OD-minded change makers, congregating monthly to compare notes. I hope you will join us!

Chris (aka @sourcepov)

 

Sources and further reading:

  • Laloux, Frederic. Reinventing Organizations (2014). Nelson Parker.
  • Jones, Chris. The DNA of Collaboration (2012). Amberwood Media Group. [Note: I like to think of my first book as a research guantlet, laying down foundations for what’s to come in OD. I pause to list it among these titles, but it contributes to the OD discussion, and it was the early genesis for this chat, started way back in 2012. More on the site you are on, if interested.]
  • Mitchell, Melanie. Complexity, A Guided Tour (2009). Oxford University Press.
  • Wheatley, Margaret and Myron Kellner-Rogers. A Simpler Way (1996, 1999). Berrett-Koehler.

 


A Time for Sense Making: Then, as Now, Our Understanding Evolves

While the search for understanding can be traced back to the ancient greeks, the modern take on sense making has a history of it’s own.

Space will not allow for a full accounting, but I see four primary vectors to help us track its modern evolution, unwinding both the practice and promise of sense making in modern terms. Consider:

  • Dervin (1983, 1992, 1996), and Russell, et al (1993, 2009) – on the human-computer interface, with the earliest explorations on the psychology of recognition and understanding.
  • Klein, et al (2006) – studying frame-to-data, and data-to-frame matching as a means to test patterns observed, advancing the earlier work of Cohen, et al (1996) and Piaget (1972,1977).
  • Weick (1979, 1988, 1993) – exploring organizational implications, with 7 discrete properties in the sense making process in groups or teams; without delving into them in detail, they are:
    • Identification – the role/sense of self, as it relates to the observed
    • Retrospection – looking back, considering the function of time
    • Narrative, discourse, and feedback – developing context and understanding via story, often through real-time dialog
    • Cues – using familiar points of reference
    • Plausability – establishing viability of scenarios
  • Snowden, et al. (2003, 2007) – with the “Cynefin” framework, introduced complex and chaotic scenarios, in contrast with the simple, the merely complicated, and the hopelessly disordered; with this more robust landscape, real world situations were more accessible, or at least visible.

How have these understandings evolved?  Has sense making come of age?

This, of course, will launch a good discussion, if not a healthy debate. In our #orgdna chat MON 2/20/17 at 9:00pm ET, let’s explore this question with the following frame:

  • Q1. HCI as Foundation. Was the early research important to what came after?
  • Q2. Klein and Pattern Matching. How influential have patterns become re: sense making & complexity? Are we returning to foundations?
  • Q3. Weick on Narrative. Has story consumed our dialog in the modern framing of sense making? For better or worse?
  • Q4. Snowden & Complexity. How has Cynefin changed the sense making dialog?
  • Q5. Futures. What is the path to practical application for sense making?

Our back story? The #orgdna chat community has been meeting since late 2012 on topics from leadership to learning, most often focused on the social dynamic.

To what end? Making sense of it all, of course. This topic is right up our alley.

Our conversations are typically lively. Just add #orgdna to your tweets at the appointed hour. We recommend a streaming app like TweetDeck. After the conversation, we’ll share a PDF transcript. And there’s likely to be a follow-up chat on a related thread. We do this every 3rd Monday, 9pET/6pPT.

Props to group member Christy Petit, who helped me shape this conversation.

Intrigued? I certainly am. The rest is up to the group. Hope to see you online Monday night.

Chris (aka @sourcepov, now on Medium)


Culture Unraveled: The Semantics of “Purpose” .. a Tale of Many Threads

After 3 lively #orgdna chats on culture since August, you’d think we’d be out of things to talk about. Yet the opposite is true. The more we discuss, the more we find to discuss. Each chat opens new ideas and new threads for exploration.

In discussing patterns of culture, we spent much time on semantics. Vivid concepts like “power” and “fear” often fought with broader and more abstract notions like “purpose” and “ethical behavior” that more of us would prefer to aspire to. This particular thread from friends & contributors Mark Britz and Bruce Waltuck rung especially true as I reread the transcript.

Like Wittgenstein, I’ve always been a stickler for care our word choices. Last month we talked quite a bit about somewhat abstract notions that get appropriated for nefarious agendas, good words like collaborationtransformation and even values.  I believe it was Noah or Jim who commented on purpose needing to be saved.

But it occurs to me that a change agent has little more than relationships and words to drive transformative change. The ability to inspire a team to action based on common ground requires that we shape that common ground carefully. What do we seek to accomplish? What are the hurdles? What can we all agree to?  There’s a fine line between manipulation and inspiration for the change agent, who, in my view, needs to alter semantic interpretations at the edges to create a coalition. Facts are facts, to be certain. But abstract ideas leave room for interpretation. A skilled change leader helps shape that agenda, recruiting all the while.

So what ARE the skills of a change agent? What must happen for them to become masters in undestanding and navigating “attractors of meaning” as Bruce noted last time, in the tweet above? Let’s discuss.

  • Q1. Define “attractors of meaning” in the cultural context
  • Q2. How does a change agent build common ground when everyone has their own semantics? a diverse cultural lens?
  • Q3. Utlimiately, what are the skills of a change agent?

Here’s an aggregation of our recent #orgdna culture transcripts, with a participant # and a tweet # for each:

We are slowly unravelling the tapestry of organization culture. We’ve got planning threads open in both Twitter dm’s and Slack. Lmk if you’d like to join us there.

Hope to see you !! MON 11/14/16, at 9pm EST.  Should be another great one.

Chris (aka @sourcepov)