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Rethinking Complexity

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Posts tagged with the category Improving Performance

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It is clear that collaboration is a necessity in navigating today's complex work environments where ambiguity and change are constants. What is not clear is how to make collaboration part of an organization's culture and the default behavior pattern for leaders. One possible solution comes from Morten T. Hansen's 2009 book,...
On Sunday, The Financial Times reported that the recent drop in Eastman Kodak’s share prices may be the final, overt sign that the photography giant is nearing its end. For a company that spearheaded innovation—in 1885, founder George Eastman invented roll film, which benefited the motion picture industry and inventor Thomas Edison...
Are you Not Enough, Too Much or Enough? At the 2011 National Training Lab Annual Conference this August, Collins Dobbs, Mary Ann Huckabay, Craig Shchuler, and Yifat Sharabi-Levine asked its participants to answer this question. I was one of them. The question was part of an experimental exercise designed to explore different sides of ourselves and...
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Every week I see signs that our social institutions and organizations have lost their ability to accomplish key tasks, even as the urgency to do so rises. In fact, the intensity of feelings among different stakeholder groups seems to be a factor contributing to breakdown. We depend on large organizations, government, and community groups to...
After my study session wound down earlier tonight, I scanned my bookshelf to find an organizational systems topic that I could write this post on. Organizational culture. Sustainability. Leverage points. They all jumped out, but none of them grabbed me. Then my eyes landed on a thin booklet from the Leadership Institute of Seattle (or LIOS)—...
Photo courtesy of I/O at Work.
What is the emotional side of complexity and how can it help us understand and manage complexity? John Kotter, a Harvard Business School professor and expert on leadership and change, said this year that managing change is about understanding the human condition of fear that is inherent in all change. Change, he added, is managed through deeds...
One of the best tips I ever got came from journalism school. The tip involved assumption-making and it was offered in the form of a question-and-answer. Do you know what happens when you make assumptions? The journalism professor asked my undergraduate, database research class. The first three letters of the word "assumption," that's...
Imagine walking into work every morning wondering if it'll be your last day there. That's how thousands of Bank of America employees probably felt this morning after the company publicly announced its plans yesterday to slash 30,000 jobs over the next few years. The massive downsizing is part of a cost-cutting measure crafted by Bank of...
I smiled with delight after having welcomed five new teaching staffers to our University Professional Development Center community. At the same time, I could not help reflecting on the courage required to begin the process of adding these five new people. Was it really that difficult to expand our class offerings? Was it that surprising that we...
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Recently as I was listening to a critique of the work done in response to the latest natural disaster when the following comment was made: “We need to get the first responders to talk to each other.” On the surface, this may sound like a reasonable request and something that we should expect from a group of people dedicated to helping...
Photo courtesy of the Washington Department of Enterprise Services.
The reality of war has had a profound influence on my life. This influence is hard to see. In fact, it's invisible. I would have kept it hidden if I hadn't read Clay Sellers' August 26 post, "Beyond the Clouds of War: A Faint, Silver Lining." His writing inspired me to explore the complexity that a legacy of war has had on my...
Diagram courtesy of Jorge Taborga.
Our life choices and commitments feed on each other causing them to form a reinforcing loop. This type of loop is the causal relationship of two variables that affect each other in the same direction. If one grows the other does as well. The opposite is also true: the reduction in one variable causes the other to diminish. The choices we make in...