Training of top leaders in managing complexity
Complicated is actually not so complicated. In it, things are complicated, but predictable. In a clock mechanism, there are wheels within wheels and it takes an expert to be able to unravel that. However, all clock maker get to master it easily. This is so because despite the numerous connections, a person with knowledge can easily predict what will happen when he does something to a wheel.
On the other hand, complex is much more complex. There is no/low predictability. If you hit me today, I may offer you the other cheek. However, next time the result could be quite different. My internal wheels i.e. emotions, keep changing all the time.
It is indisputable that top leaders have to operate more in the complex domain than the complicated domain. In that, the sense is not easily seen against the din of noise. Sense has to be generated.
This is best explained by the Cynefin complexity framework.
Sense is not so apparent because human and business affairs do not follow certain assumptions –
- The assumption of order – that there are underlying relationships between cause and effect in human interactions and markets, which are capable of discovery and empirical verification
- The assumption of rational choice – that faced with a choice between one or more alternatives, human ac- tors will make a “rational” decision based only on minimizing pain or maximizing pleasure;
- The assumption of intentional capability – that the acquisition of capability indicates an intention to use that capability, and that actions from competitors are the result of intentional behavior.
The framework sorts the issues facing leaders into five contexts defined by the nature of the relationship between cause and effect. Four of these—simple, complicated, complex, and chaotic—require leaders to diagnose situations and to act in contextually appropriate ways.
Can leaders be trained to take decisions in all 4 scenarios? Of course.
In any case, this training is critical. It is not just a ‘good to have’. They just have to have this empowerment.
Let us train your top leaders in this ‘must have’ skill.