Even when the DNA is similar “we can’t fix today’s problems with yesterday’s tools”:: Part 3


WARNING THE FOLLOWING ARE BAD FOR THE HEALTH OF A BUSINESS SYSTEM:

EXCESSIVE COMPLEXITY can come in a wide variety of forms: flawed economic theory; excessive debt (measured in relation to the requisite complexity of the system); poor or misguided Governance [instead of homoeostasis for business]; general/risk management or accounting practices that “constrain” the system in pursuit of skewed rewards or excessive returns*; misaligned operational structure & IT;  or processes &/or products; product, culture and strategy ambiguity (that hamper information-flow);  lack of “requisite variety”; assumptions or decisions based upon correlations in incomplete or misleading data…all very dangerous for individual financial systems and those connected to it, irrespective of scale or domain.

*the assumption that, because we know (knew) how to manage complicated systems, we know how to do likewise with complex systems is, evidently, wrong and dangerous.

We continue to be limited by our own knowledge, thus, invite disaster. We prefer faux certainty (a projection of the future based upon our past) to the reality of uncertainty and, as a result, when disaster strikes, we are prone to “label” what was unforeseen as unforeseeable…that suggests that we have looked but did not see! When, too often, the truth is that we didn’t look but assumed. Or “overlooked” by failing to utilise the tools available to us. Read more of this post

Why YOUR company must become a “tech. company”:: Forbes


The business landscape has changed but too many established businesses are so caught up in doing things the way they “know” rather than adapting to survive in the Digital Age. The most vulnerable [financially fragile] have already paid the ultimate price as new entrants, unencumbered by legacy issues, have outperformed and replaced them. In the process capturing market share. Often far beyond what was conceivable by their predecessors.

Irrespective of the business sector…although some have more inherent problems than others…it is the failure to adapt, as much as it is impact of the turbulent economic climate, that has accounted for some high profile casualties.

This ISN’T 1960 and leaders, whose understanding of business hasn’t progressed much in the intervening 50 years, may not have fully appreciated the scale of the problem. Mastering INFORMATION is THE means by which transformation can be achieved…

We’ve moved from an agrarian through the industrial to the new information economy

Three hundred years ago the world’s wealthiest people owned land.  For centuries wars were fought to control land.  Kings owned land, and by controlling it captured the value of everything produced on that land.  As governments developed, reducing the role of kings, land barons became the wealthiest people in the world.  In an agrarian economy, where most human resources (and pretty much all others for that matter) were deployed in food and shelter production owning land was the most valuable thing on the planet. Read more of this post

Even when the DNA is similar “we can’t fix today’s problems with yesterday’s tools”:: Part 2


INFORMATION – INTELLIGENCE – INNOVATION have transformed our INVENTIONS, theories and practices to such an extent that we need to be aware of the limitations of our knowledge: we MUST question what we “know”…not so much a case of familiarity breeding contempt but leading to “ignorance” and increasing risk.

The complexity of some man-made systems has so outstripped our ability to manage them that, increasingly, we need to draw upon our observations of the complex systems found in nature 

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

Practice without sound theory will not scale…but it WILL expose and “amplify”, wrong assumptions, errors & omissions

The irreversible complexity of man-made systems* e.g. communications, IT, transport, economic, financial, business, logistics, business, etc. have outstripped our ability to understand, maintain, manage or repair flaws without the tools and techniques that enable us to examine the relevant system components and relationships at a variety of scales [micro – macro – holistic]: Law of Requisite Variety (refer Part 1). Read more of this post

The world HAS already changed: sink or survive?


Sometimes, despite my best efforts, I cannot resist sharing Seth Godin’s wisdom! This is particularly difficult when he hits on a point that I have been making time and again as I try to communicate the URGENT need for change, specifically within in Financial Services and Risk management.

Risk Leaders (Godin’s artists) and early adopters will be the “winners”…other will just have to trust to luck!

When the world changes…

It’s painful, expensive, time-consuming, stressful and ultimately pointless to work overtime to preserve your dying business model.

All the lobbying, the lawsuits, the ad campaigns and most of all, the hand-wringing, aren’t going to change anything at all. In fact, instead of postponing the outcome you fear, they probably accelerate it.

The history of media and technology is an endless series of failed rearguard actions as industry leaders attempt to solidify their positions on a bed of quicksand.

Again and again the winners are individuals and organizations that spot opportunities in the next thing, as opposed to those that would demonize, marginalize or illegalize (is that a word?) it. Breaking systems that benefit your customers is dumb. Taking money from lobbyists to break those systems is dumber still.

Let Seth inform and inspire you..

Seth Godin interview on Canadian tv

Complexity: structural engineering for business survival


Trust me, even the smallest business is a complex system! And there is so much more that EVERY business can learn from the rigorous scientific environment than they will ever gain from the “soft skills” of management consultants attempting to re-engineer the conventional hierarchical structure. That parrot is deceased!!!

In modernity it is pointless denying that we aren’t all part of an infinitely complex network of systems and ecosystems. We need to get “fit for randomness”…

  1. To take the “fat tails” of power law systems seriously. Expect change to arrive not gradually, in a way that will allow the organization to adjust in real time, but in sudden discontinuities of great consequence that reshape the business environment, bringing both dangers and opportunities.
  2. To recognise that globalization and decentralization bring risks as well as rewards, and that more is sometimes different — that increased interdependence can create the conditions for “emergent” threats that are traceable to no specific element within the system.
  3. To take note of the human element in efforts to become adaptable, in part by organizing practices to decrease “entrainment of thinking.”

The Institutions that, for generations, enjoyed our trust have been exposed as untrustworthy. The model was created for the, predominantly, linear processes* of the Industrial era. Although the techniques and tools of management have certainly evolved, from what we now know about the nature of systems, our efforts may be misguided and more damaging than we could have known.

Read more of this post