Complexity is not new phenomena, and it’s here to stay and grow. It’s one of the main challenges for companies because it required different mental models, thinking, methods and tools to enable us to operate within the complexity and the uncertainty it creates. Any attempt to simplify complexity will yield more complexity. Complexity is not a bad thing, actually, it is crucial to our development.
Instead of spending time simplifying complexity and proving that the future is controllable, we can adjust our organization to deal with complexity. Once we found the way to operate within complexity, we can find ways how to take advantage of it. This concept is already used by the pioneers of quantum mechanics and we all enjoy their fruits.
What is complexity? Complexity is defined by autonomous, diverse and connected elements. The diversity, the ability to take independent decisions and actions, and that all parts are connecting, therefore, impacting each other; they all create unexpected and unpredictable future behavior. Although all parts follow clear rules, the end results are unknown.
So what we can do to better deal with complexity?
focus on the not obvious – connections
Instead of focusing on the obvious (people, groups and technologies) and trying to find what’s wrong with them, we need to spend time on the non-obvious, find it and understand it. A lot of information exists in the interlinks between elements. There are many types of interlinks between elements of a system, but the most common and profound ones are:
1) Interactions between people (interaction are direct)
2) Impacts (non-direct interactions)
3) The flow of information and materials.
Focusing on the interlinks above start to paint a picture that reveals the challenges and advantages that the interlinks have, but people never spend time to reveal. This information explains a recruiting problem, and it can be a potential advantage that no one used before. It’s hard to find and understand the not obvious, but it is open a door to 50% of organizations’ fabric people rarely aware of and use.
Interlinks will teach you a lot about what you can do to adjust organizations to work with complexity. In a nutshell, interlinks provide the agility of your organization. If the interlinks are more dynamic, the company can handle better with the results of a complexity.
Take steps backward to see the entire picture
Once you have to understand interlinks, you can take steps back and start with zoom out and review an organization as a whole. The opposite of breaking organizations into smaller and smaller parts. This synthesis gives you and ability to find out what is wrong between groups, people and technologies.
If something is broken in the fabric that connects the organization together, it has to be fixed before using analysis and addressing challenges within parts of the organization. The logic is simple, changing the fabric can and will introduce changes to elements of the system. So, it’s better to change the fabric as most of the time it will also cause changes in elements and resolve issues that perceive as part’s challenges.
If after taking steps back there are still challenges, then try analysis.
Understand what drive elements
Last but not least is a good understanding of what drives elements in the system. This step includes an understanding of all the elements that drive the behavior of parts of the system. There are many drivers for people and groups and very few for technologies. Getting a clear understanding of those drivers not just provides a better understanding of how the organization is working, it finds many causes for know issues.
Many people shy away from understanding what drive people and groups, but there are so many problems and challenges that organization has to deal with just because two people or groups have different drivers and see the reality in a different and competing way. Getting to the weeds of drivers can resolve quite a few of the organizations’ problems.
Using different methods is a change that few people like to follow, but those methods shade light on critical parts of an organization crucial to operate in a complex environment. Not getting this level of understanding is trying to resolve a problem with the wrong methods and toolset.