Complexity

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Aaron Dignan on being complexity conscious and people positive

...Lisa Gill: Two of the little phrases that I really liked in the book were complexity conscious and people positive. What do those terms mean to you? Can you say something about what those phrases represent? Aaron Dignan: Yeah, so when...more
...nough reinforcement - so I think that's the people positive side. That's sort of at the root of all the humanistic thinking about work. And then the complexity conscious was really more about the systemic understanding. So, you know, in systems theory, there are lots of different kinds of systems - simple sy...more
...y more about the systemic understanding. So, you know, in systems theory, there are lots of different kinds of systems - simple systems, complicated, complex, chaotic, disordered, etc. We really, as a culture, think about everything as complicated. So, you know, a watch is complicated, an engine is complic...more
...ne of the most common now that we see in a world of rapid change and dynamics and, you know, thousands of people bumping up against each other is the complex system. The complex system is like traffic or weather or raising a six year old or gardening. And that is, you know, more unpredictable - it has the potent...more
... now that we see in a world of rapid change and dynamics and, you know, thousands of people bumping up against each other is the complex system. The complex system is like traffic or weather or raising a six year old or gardening. And that is, you know, more unpredictable - it has the potential to surprise us. I...more
...e going to put in this person, we're going to do this new org chart, we're going to introduce this new policy and everything will be perfect. And so complexity conscious is the mindset that says - the world is dynamic, it's unpredictable, we're moving fast. And in fact, we're also, you know, people in a syst...more
...ble, we're moving fast. And in fact, we're also, you know, people in a system inside that world. And so we need to be conscious of the fact that that complexity requires a different approach. And that's where, you know, things like test and learn and emergence, and waiting and seeing, and, you know, continuou...more
...continuous steering and all the idea, you know - companies, startups that push code every 10 seconds. Those are all the ways to try to deal with that complexity. And try to make sense of it. So I think that those were really the two foundational mindsets. And if you look at them, they can actually be in tens...more
...ose were really the two foundational mindsets. And if you look at them, they can actually be in tension with each other. Which is really cool. So the complexity conscious mindset might lead us to do experiments that have real costs - experiments where people fail, where people have to be fired, or where peopl...more
...u know, understand both where they could start, but also what are the connections between places that they might play. Because the reality is it is a complex system. And so if you pull on this, you're going to accidentally tug on that. At the same time, I wanted to acknowledge that there's not going to be any pe...more
...g examples of organisations that are doing things differently, or really kind of putting into practice some of these ideas around people positive and complexity conscious? Aaron Dignan: There are quite a few. We ended up collecting close to 68 cases for the book. The more famous ones are quite interesting - s...more
... feel like there are a few things. One is that we misunderstand the system when we look at most change frameworks. So back to the complicated and the complex, you see a lot of frameworks that go through five steps, or eight steps, or whatever. And the idea is somehow in theory, that we, as a group of 10,00...more
...t going as planned, and you're trying to figure out why you're so frustrated. So I think the reality is that we first have to accept that systems are complex, and that we can't treat them as monolithic things that are in a single stage of reality. The second thing is the narrative about change itself is pr...more
...about it. But we still debate it, and we still play with it. And we still nurture different sides of it in different projects. And it's messy. So - a complex topic, I think....more
...oing on in the wild. So when we choose these average tensions, these average outcomes as our goals for change, we're just whittling off all the rich complexity that's going on. Whereas the cards will show us - this set of leaders thinks it's this, this set of leaders thinks it's that. It's not a competition,...more
...hat's the adjacent possible that is just one adjustment away? If we can align on those mindsets, if we can align on a belief in people positivity and complexity consciousness, if we can have a principled take on what work should be, then it's really just about arrangement. At that point, it's really just abou...more

Bill Fischer and Simone Cicero on Haier and the entrepreneurial organisation

...act basically. Instead, the Taoist perspective is really individual — it’s focused on the individual. And it’s really about how we engage with such a complex world that goes beyond our capacity to understand it. And I think when you relate this powerful mix of individual capabilities and for example, the w...more
...back. But Haier is 70,000 real people making real things. And so for me, it’s a wonderful, wonderful opportunity to talk about how you change large, complex organisations in mature industries. And the leadership. The leadership, of course is extraordinary. So those two things, I think are what differenti...more
...— you kind of create the culture by designing these constraints. And this is something that is quite recurring. **I think, when you deal with really complex organisations, they’re mostly managed by constraints. And this is an expression of complexity in general. When you need to manage a complex system, y...more
...t is quite recurring. **I think, when you deal with really complex organisations, they’re mostly managed by constraints. And this is an expression of complexity in general. When you need to manage a complex system, you need to work by setting constraints so that you can flourish within certain directions that...more
...th really complex organisations, they’re mostly managed by constraints. And this is an expression of complexity in general. When you need to manage a complex system, you need to work by setting constraints so that you can flourish within certain directions that don’t, for example, create asymmetric risks. **So I ...more
...he commitment to this ideal — which is an ideal that I think we should all be associated with and that is freeing up the potential of people in large complex organisations and small, not so complex organisations as well. ...more
...n ideal that I think we should all be associated with and that is freeing up the potential of people in large complex organisations and small, not so complex organisations as well. ...more
...ncept and my biases are always looking for the relational, human pieces. And I think they are there but it’s perhaps less written about. It’s such a complex model. I’ve read about the RenDanHeYi model, I read one huge book about it and just breaking down the diagram of the model I was like, “Wow…too much ...more

Keith McCandless and Henri Lipmanowicz on acting your way into a new kind of organising with Liberating Structures

...r he retired, and we are both pretty practical. We were listening to mathematicians and physicists and biologists and ecologists, got inspired by the complexity science thinking, and then we went out and started doing things and people were doing things with that. And saying, you know, you have got to write t...more
...ders of an institute - and I mean, Keith was very much at the centre of that too - called Plexus Institute, that was devoted to spreading ideas about complex systems, you know, and the notion that you could use those ideas and those concepts as a way of organising, you know, as a way of running organisations. And...more
...d use those ideas and those concepts as a way of organising, you know, as a way of running organisations. And so the idea was that organisations are complex systems, they're not machines. And therefore we shouldn't run them like machines, you know. That they are not controllable, or hierarchical systems don't rea...more
...ose amazing experiences of how you can do something that is profoundly simple as a structure and deal with a problem that is profoundly difficult and complex, you know, in a matter of an hour, an hour and a half kind of thing. And the one other thing that I think helped us is that many of, after many of ou...more

Margaret Heffernan on how to act our way out of the status quo trap

...hing that changes everything. I don't think there is- I think that's a mythical beast, right? The organisations that we mostly work in are enormously complex, and one single thing or one single idea doesn't change everything. But I think that the the advantage of self management is that it makes much clea...more

Amy Edmondson on psychological safety and the future of work

... Risk-taking by definition is going to involve some things going well, but some things not going well. That’s part of work in a volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous world. Things will go well and not well at different times, and not always in a predictable way. So the Learning Zone, it’s a little bit l...more

Miki Kashtan on the three shifts needed for self-managing organisations to thrive

...ou've written about and explored at length as well. And, again, I think in self managing systems, this is another total paradigm shift. And it's more complex I'm learning than just "let's change this manager-subordinate power dynamic." There's so many other power dynamics and relationships to power that ar...more

Margaret Wheatley on leadership and Warriors for the Human Spirit

... for us - if we're paying any attention - we're not in our cocoons, it creates an environment where we have to know how to deal with these very deep, complex emotions. So that's part of the training - not to ignore them or disallow them but to act from them. And another component of the training is we wan...more