Public Sector: “complexity paralysis” – creator and casualties


No matter how you express it, in a dynamic (non-linear) system, that is, by definition complex, “what goes around comes around” – the “feedback loop” – complexity begets complexity until the system reaches breaking point – “critical complexity”.

But the closer the system operates to this point the more fragile and unstable it becomes.

Things can, do, get ugly, painful, dangerous and costly on a variety of levels and the impact is felt across domains.

Public Sector: “complexity paralysis” – creator and casualties Image by michael.heiss via Flickr A recent blog about procrastination led me to get this off my mind. It has been rattling around in there for some time… Ever had so much going on in your head that you don’t know what to do first? Too many tasks, too little time: which “master” to satisfy? Every issue or task has its own factors to consider: short term effect; long term impact. Assessing cause and effect or imagining problems, leading you to “f … Read More

via Get “fit for randomness” [with Ontonix UK]

Public Sector: “complexity paralysis” – creator and casualties


Management of Complexity

Image by michael.heiss via Flickr

A recent blog about procrastination led me to get this off my mind. It has been rattling around in there for some time…

Ever had so much going on in your head that you don’t know what to do first?

Too many tasks, too little time: which “master” to satisfy?

Every issue or task has its own factors to consider: short term effect; long term impact.

Assessing cause and effect or imagining problems, leading you to “flit” – in rising desperation – from one task to another.

Imagining failure or ridicule.

Getting frustrated by your own inability to make progress and wrestling with the temptation to walk or run away.

Turning to a familiar “crutch”, such as alcohol, irrespective of health concerns.

Contemplating delegation to a potential scapegoat. “Parking” it (procrastinating) or dumping it all together.

Seeking out some trivial distraction to fool yourself that you are too busy…even just to satisfy yourself that you are doing something when, in reality, you are DOING NOTHING!

Come on be honest. You have experienced the scenario at some point in your personal or business life. But imagine (if you have to) your state of mind, if this is what you have to contend with in your working life day, after day, after day, after…

Our minds are dynamic complex systems and can – DO – reach “overload”. Falling performance, absenteeism, stress, breakdown, etc. Different for each individual but bad news all round; work; home; family; community.

Some workplaces are more prone to this scenario than others and the excessive complexity of organisations, such as those within the Public Sector in UK, that have responsibility for dealing with the effects of these stresses in our communities, are as sick – individually and collectively – as those they are trying to help! Read more of this post

Ontonix DON’T do placebo!


It is important, with so many “experts” jumping on the “complexity bandwagon”,  to highlight what Ontonix DON’T DO when we assist companies identify and tackle complexity within their organisation. We wont:

…trivialize an issue that affects the performance of the business and, if unmanaged, can destroy it.

…waste your time with “consultant-speak” about individual or collective performance.

…waste your money clocking-up hours of consultancy to build up a profile of your business and its employees.

…ask you or your staff to spend countless hours manipulating and extracting increasingly bewildering reports from your IT system.

…recycle the thoughts of others whose qualitative approach lacks a clear definition, a means to measure or credible solution to the problem.

…attempt to address complexity within your operations, systems, networks, supply chain, etc. by trotting out trite nonsense, such as –

#1 principle for managing complexity: slow down to go fast!

Blogging Innovation » More Medicine for Your Complexity Complex.

 

In fairness I have never tried using  “thought bubbles” and “unlearning to learn” upon some of the critical operations that enable modern business e.g. IT or communications networks, so, perhaps, I shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss! Although, I doubt that we would have been able to deliver the quantitative results and improvements that we have to, such as, Air traffic control, Healthcare, Engineering design, etc.

If you prefer to rely upon a more homeopathic approach to, a potentially terminal,  system disease there is an abundance of “experienced” consultants willing and able to weave their magic. Read more of this post

Greedy, lazy and stuck in a rut!: the link between corporate culture and a sick society


Heart disease is a major killer in modern (particularly Western) society. Modern lifestyles – lack of exercise, poor diet, stress – are, undoubtedly, factors and the outward signs MAY, eventually, become apparent.

Not too many years ago we “got smart”, we learned about cholesterol. What it was were it came from and the damage it did to the body by clogging vital pathways.

Processed foods – those that have been modified by us to extract maximum return – are high in “bad” cholesterol [LDL & Lp(a)], affect the performance of the body [system] and do serious, long term, damage.

So, let’s say you are short on energy, fatigued, overweight or unable to perform life’s daily tasks as effectively as you should. You go to your Doctor  tell him/her the symptoms and your version of the truth about lifestyle.

IF NO CHOLESTEROL TEST IS ARRANGED ARE YOU HAPPY THAT YOUR DOCTOR HAS DONE A GOOD JOB???

What about if the system “under stress” is your business?

A business is a system, like the human body. It is reliant upon its component parts and its ecosystem (Supply chain) communicating and working interdependently to enable it to perform.

Business systems suffer from their own version of cholesterol…it’s called…COMPLEXITY.

Like the human body a business needs complexity – “natural” complexity is what facilitates system functions – but it too has a threshold. In proximity to “critical complexity” the system becomes unstable, unpredictable and difficult to manage. If you think about it you will recognise that scenario. It can manifest itself as a form of paralysis – too many issues or deadlines and the inability to know which issue needs tackled first – blind panic, or that desire to get as far away as possible!

A business cannot function beyond the point of “critical complexity” without losing functionality. The system fails. Sometimes, as in the case of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, spectacularly: You may recall much talk around the “man-made” complexity of the products and greed that brought about their demise.

The operational effectiveness, robustness [resilience] or overall health of a business cannot be measured from independent KPI’s or by sampling financial data [in accordance with international accounting standards].

What is the yardstick for success?: figures from the previous month or year; benchmarking against competitors

The business is an interdependent system and needs to be viewed as such.

If business units are underperforming it is preferable to know in advance and address issues rather than see it manifest in accounts

Complexity, like cholesterol, is in itself a major source of risk.

If you can’t identify it, you can’t measure and manage it…remember it can be terminal!

The business operates within a its own ecosystem

You want to know that the businesses with whom you deal are “healthy” and to demonstrate your own health

Cholesterol and Complexity are very real threats. We know about and are able to measure both as a result of scientific advancements. So IF you are concerned about falling performance of your business – find out the current level of complexity and, from the data that it generates, about strengths and weaknesses  – or want to know that it can be managed at a safe distance from its point of “critical complexity”  in a tough trading climate PLEASE DON’T waste time and money on a, so called, business health check that doesn’t test for complexity.

I would urge you to ask your Accountant, Risk or Quality Manager (whether in-house or outsourced), Insurance broker or any external Consultants what they are doing to ensure your business is, currently and remains, free from excessive complexity. WHEN they admit that they cannot provide what you need ask them to get in touch with me or do so directly. It will be my pleasure to help.

Whatever you do DON’T DO NOTHING!

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