Tag Archives: simple rules

Social Complexity: Inside the #futureofwork w/ #orgdna MON 9/18 9pET

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.


Foundations for 21st Century Leaders: Learning to Navigate Culture Change

Let’s face it. People are hard to influence. We are complex creatures, difficult to predict and downright impossible to control.

Large groups of such people only serve to compound things. Insightful leaders know this, or at least sense the immensity of the challenge. It can take years to achieve significant organizational change, if it ever happens.

New on this front is the topic of social complexity. It’s an appreciation for the many variables in play that hi-jack simple “cause and effect” strategies. As an example, say we decide to give a cash bonus to everyone who behaves in a certain way. Some will play. Many will not. But leaders will often rehash the carrot (or stick) strategy in efforts to change the organization’s behavior.

Eventually leaders tire or the bonus money runs out, and they move on to other battles. Or other organizations.

True change in an organization requires a deep appreciation of the complexity dynamic. We must setaside cause and effect thinking, to instead look at what can be accomplished when we view the organization as a network of social connections, people interacting, seeking to be accepted, seeking to learn and to grow, often in spite of the odds. Let’s attack the important topic of leadership in the context of culture change from a fresh angle. We’ll take the complexity view, and see what we uncover.

We teed this up initially 10/19, but let’s keep the focus here, as we dig deeper. Our chat on MON 10/26 from 9:30-11pm ET will use this frame:

  • Q1. Connections. Does thinking of a #21cOrg as a network of social interactions help us understand the #complexity forces at work?
  • Q2. Environment. How do initial conditions in the #workplace influence the opportunity for #orgchange to take hold?
  • Q3. Fundamental Rules. Can we identify a few specific, simple groundrules that leaders can embrace to #leadchange?
  • Q4. Edges. Does change at the edge provide new thinking on how leaders might look at #21cOrg change strategies?

I find culture change to be both fascinating, and in the right conditions, possible. No doubt it is a difficult journey. But leaders must understand people and social dynamics to drive change.

Carrots and sticks? Leave them for building snowmen.

The #orgdna community generally meets every 3rd MON 9:30-11pm ET. We use the #orgdna hashtag to compare notes and ideas, and we’ll publish a transcript right here on this post afterwards. Join the conversation. It’s a lively crowd, perched on a corner of the internet that’s prone to providing insights .. a great place to learn about learning.

Join us !! Hope to see you online.

Chris aka @sourcepov, Charlotte NC US.