I came across this reflection by Steve Denning on the role complexity thinking can play to advance management and help fix the world. In summary, he argues that:
Management thinking is still largely anchored in linear thinking where command and control and linear cause-effect thinking are dominant. Managers have often treated organizations as machines (complicated but predictable) rather than organisms (complex, with limited predictability). The consequences of actions based on linear thinking in a complex, interactive world are devastating losses of both efficiency and effectiveness (Steve Denning, “Can Complexity Thinking Fix Capitalism?” Forbes)
Can complexity thinking help? Steve Denning thinks that complexity scientists have managed to create high expectations but they have failed to deliver, and he points to three specific examples of actual management expertise for dealing with complexity: agile software development, the US military mission command, and the emerging discipline of anti-fragility.
What’s the problem? The problem is that there are ideas whose time has not yet come:
Over and over again, we see that when a bold new idea challenges an entire way of thinking of an international community, if the idea comes from an unexpected source, it can languish in obscurity for decades, even though the solution to a problem that needs to be solved is staring the experts in the face. (Steve Denning, “The Best-Kept Management Secret On The Planet: Agile“, Forbes)
Featured Image: Tiago Hoisel, Surreal
“Over and over again, we see that when a bold new idea challenges an entire way of thinking of an international community, if the idea comes from an unexpected source, it can languish in obscurity for decades, even though the solution to a problem that needs to be solved is staring the experts in the face.”
Loll. How true. I know this all too well.
Thanks for sharing this article. I’m gonna go find it.
So just let’s say we are not ready to listen (by listening I mean to accept) some kind of ideas?
Yes indeed, that’s the point… I would say not ready to understand.
How can we find a solution to this, then? Just letting them be until its appropiate time comes? Not happy with this…
Difficult to say. Some organizations will discover how to master complexity, and they will survive. Those which won’t will disappear. At the end, it is all about competition and adaptation. Stay tuned, and you will soon learn about an organization designed to deal with complexity.
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