Why bother with systems thinking?:: presumably because you want to understand!


Team interactionI absolutely INSIST that you read this excellent 3 part series on ‘Systems Thinking’ (ST).

I came to ST along a path from insurance risk, to complexity and resilience but it made so much sense because, well, that is the way my brain is wired! When I was younger I didn’t buy in to the conventional Business Management books because they just didn’t feel right but ST did and, although it can, as John says, make you feel like you are going crazy! However, when the message is spelt out in such a readable manner I begin to see where I (and others) have been going wrong in our efforts to communicate the need for and benefits of change.

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Watch "Eddie Obeng: Smart failure for a fast-changing world"


I’d never heard of Eddie but, ‘once heard never forgotten’ is how I reckon most open-minded people will view this circa 13 minute presentation. I can only describe it as being like stand-up that might make you smarter!

The world is changing much more rapidly than most people realize

He is right in everything that he says and, remarkably, he manages to tell us: what is wrong with ‘conventional wisdom’ without deriding Institutions; about non-linear systems, chaos and complexity without using any of these terms; that global inter-connectedness changes everything and has outpaced our learning…so assumptions based upon what we ‘know’ are (at best) unreliable; about the opportunities and threats that  – volatility, uncertainty and complexity afford us IF we are agile enough to adapt to THE new landscape; that innovation won’t happen like it did before, at the pace that it did or, necessarily, be led by Institutions and Corporations but through the collaboration of creative individuals; recognising creativity that accelerates our learning rather than stifling innovation and suppressing ‘creative destruction’ by promoting ‘self-similarity’; that, instead of expending time and resource trying (and failing!) to construct ‘failsafe’ systems we need to focus upon systems that are ‘safe to fail’.

All-in-all Eddie delivers the most upbeat, non-scientific, scientifically-based, kick in the ass for managers and consultants who trot out the same tired old claptrap about how business has been perceived…NOT how it is in the, real-time, real world of the Digital Age.

Current institutional arrangements, including the lack of incentives for the private sector to innovate for sustainability, and the lags inherent in the path dependent nature of innovation, contribute to lock-in, as does our incapacity to easily grasp the interactions implicit in complex problems, referred to here as the ingenuity gap.

Thomas Homer-Dixon

Waken up, smell the coffee and ‘git wi da programme before you do even more damage!!! As Alvin Toffler put it, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

Systemic Risk:: deep collapse in “nested adaptive cycles”


no-trust-300x225I don’t write this blog because I am intent upon coming across as some smartarse, know-it-all, merchant of doom! Rather, accepting the limitations of my own knowledge, I want, as far as is possible, to inform readers (thanks for your interest!) of issues that affect each and every one of us.

I reckon, if I prompt individuals to ask questions of themselves, me,  employer, politicians, trusted advisors or media sources then that is good. If I can answer questions even better. If I cannot, then that may be all the motivation I need to consider a worthwhile topic further or from another perspective. After all, with the communication tools we have at our disposal in the Digital Age, this IS a “Knowledge Economy”.

Part of the problem, that bothers me, is that many of the established sources of information are not as reliable as they would have you believe. Some only see information through the lens of engrained belief systems – a form of blindness. Others rely upon a cocktail of manipulation and, deliberate, misinformation. If this sounds far-fetched please stop to consider: what we have learnt about the culture in Institutions, in whom we were “happy” to trust; how we came to learn of the nature and scale of “abuse”: how long before “abuses” were admitted; why, despite, such as WikiLeaks, Occupy, etc. so little has changed; when we can expect to see perpetrators held to account for their actions?

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Why “problem-solving capability” NEEDS enlightened leadership


It can be difficult to understand that common management issues and disappointing business performance can be examined in the context of biological, technological and ecological systems but… they can!

If you don’t believe me, you can, pretty readily, get a copy of Stephen Covey’s famous book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. I seem to recall he talks about INTERDEPENDENCE as a “higher state”. In doing so he is touching upon subjects dear to my heart and often taken for granted by each and every one of us…

…we would not fair terribly well without the unimaginable complexity of the ecosystem, that sustains our planet, or  the enormous biological complexity within the human body. There is a growing appreciation of the universality of systems: to such an extent that business, global financial, IT systems and others are now being viewed in a very different way…

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Self-help for business: "better questions, new answers" [free White Paper]


So you’re an SME and you reckon you know better than your Bank Manager, Accountant or some Business Consultant, what is good for your business. Instinctively, you’re probably right…but how do you know?

How can you determine that YOU’RE RIGHT AND THEY ARE WRONG?

If you want to find out how to do it without spending a fortune, opening up your business to someone (who may have an excellent CV) who doesn’t know you or your business OR handing-over “control” to people who assess the worth of a business in terms of £’s – read on.

After all, your Doctor will always tell you what you should or shouldn’t do – eat – drink but, whilst you don’t ignore health advice, I doubt you let them run your life!?

I am not advocating self-medication but I am certainly recommending some self analysis before spending big or risking the decision being taken out of your hands. You don’t even have to have any great concern about the health of the business…just a desire to know more about its “hidden” structure OR the determination to make the business the best that it can be. To: measure; monitor; manage and demonstrate it.

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