Thriving in Complexity

“To work our way towards a shared language once again, we must first learn how to discover patterns which are deep, and capable of generating life”. Christopher Alexander

A Realist Approach to Complexity 

Ever heard of this awkward sounding word, VUCA? It stands for volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous and tries to describe the conditions of the systems we work and live in. The point is, that navigating these VUCA waters makes life tough for leaders, organizations and CEOs, many of whom don’t believe that either they or their organisations are equipped to deal with it. Indeed, how do you make decisions when the outcome has to be uncertain and cannot be predicted.

We work with three complementary approaches parallel.

  1. We work on closing what we call “the complexity gap” and work with matching leadership skills in complexity thinking, collaborative capacity and leadership decision making  with the growing complexity of the jobs, especially in international multi-stakeholder work environments. This is capacity building at its finest.
  2. We work inside of complex adaptive systems with processes and governance structures that release artificially built up complexity in organizations.
  3. We work with the people in whole organizations to tease out what is actually happening for them and probe for the actual, mostly unrecognized and untapped potential for culture change, growth, and emergence.

The Complexity Gap  

According to a report from IBM’s Institute for Business Value, which interviewed more than 1,500 CEOs from companies of all sizes across 60 countries, says that CEOs are confronted with a “complexity gap” that poses a bigger challenge than any factor measured in eight years of CEO research.

Eight out of 10 of the CEOs interviewed expect their environment to grow significantly more complex over the next few years, but fewer than half believe they know how to deal with it.

At EZC.Partners  we help leaders to close this growing gap between the complexity of the workplace challenges and personal leadership skills and capacities. 

We can meet these demands and (1) work strategically on the development of respective skills and knowledge, (2) learn to work closely with others who represent a widdownloade range of perspectives and areas of expertise, and (3) use the best tools available to scaffold their thinking.

We work with tools that are best geared for

  • assessing current thinking in relation to the complexity of the job (Lectica’s LDMA, Lectical Decision Making Assessment)
  • scaffolding employee and leadership development and capacity building in the areas of complexity thinking and collaborative capacity to foster skill development as learning experiences
  • supporting hiring decisions: providing a nuanced and objective source of information about prospective employees’ leadership decision-making skills.

Releasing Complexity  

We help organizations deflate artificially increased complexity that has built up. This occurs when you operate in complex adaptive systems but apply rigid constraints and assumptions that are linear or causal. Complex adaptive factors (people, emergent processes) are hitting inflexible structures (rules, hierarchies, cultures). We untangle the power dynamics, path dependencies, constraints, and commonly held views about workplace challenges through rigorous processes and organic governance structures. Releasing this built up complexity enormously increases impact, efficiency, fosters open participation and team intelligence, and introduces different strategic conversations around managing organizations successfully despite of VUCA factors. Our most favorite approach and tool to work with this is Bonnitta Roy’s OPO (Open Participatory Organization) and App Associates Intl.

Complex Adaptive Challenges and Sense Making  

We understand how complex adaptive systems behave. And while we help leaders become “VUCA fit” with personal leadership development, we are committed to a ‘realist position’ where we work with “what is” outside of the developmental agenda. We work with people, not on them, with the system, not on it.  We manage the intelligence potential of the present rather trying to constantly achieve an idealized future state that makes us miss signals and opportunitiescynefin2 on the way there. We tap into the distributed intelligence of the workplace – people aren’t stupid, most of the time they know what is going on, what is going wrong and how things could be improved. We provide means to tap into that knowledge and get real time, unbiased, relevant and ongoing data about what is actually happening at work. Scanning the data for weak signals, trends, emergent behavior or detractors, we simply nudge the system into a generative direction. We help creating locally contextualized solutions and architectures for sustainable change and beneficial emergence. To do that, we work with Dave Snowden’s Cynefin Framework and the Sensemaker® Tools by Cognitive Edge.

3 Comments on “Thriving in Complexity

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