Many of us find the complexity of the world difficult to manage. Particularly now, we want simple answers and easy solutions. We would like to take all the mess and awkwardness and shove it under a large enough carpet that it won’t see the light of day any time soon. That doesn’t work, sadly, and simple solutions expressed confidently aren’t a substitute for the messy, difficult work of muddling through and persevering. Embracing complexity requires work and effort; that starts with recognizing complexity for what it is.
There are untold levels of interpretation and perspective that shape our meaning, interactions and experiences. Making sense of these levels is the challenge. Understanding the dimensions that are at work, why they exist, and the nuances they bring to what is being said, how it is being said and what remains unsaid is fundamental. The good news is that there is structure at play that can help to uncover undercurrents, build meaning and provide perspective. The secret lies in knowing where to look.
Over a period of weeks, I’ve been deconstructing and exploring how we meet and make strategic decisions. Given our current pandemic reality, strategic retreats are neither possible nor desirable. My question was how they can be replicated online, and—for extra bonus points—whether it was possible for those meetings to be more effective than what we are more traditionally used to. I was cautiously optimistic at the outset. I’m now quite confident that it is actually possible.
To make good decisions we require good information. The challenge is that in many instances we make decisions with incomplete and imperfect information, even where further insight was possible. Groups whose diversity should enable differences in perspective and viewpoint often gravitate to the lowest common denominator. Pressure to get to the decision and pulls on attention mean that relevant information doesn’t get the attention or consideration that it should. It doesn’t have to be this way; with a little bit of thought and planning, better process is possible and other perspectives become practical.
Many, many sins have been committed in the name of “team building.” All too often we associate team building exercises with awkward, superficial and embarrassing interactions. And much of what is done simply doesn’t work. Team building is often irrelevant, but building the team is critical.
A version of this article was published in the Edmonton Journal on 27 May 2015. Certainly, it can be argued that the Alberta health care system has its challenges. Efficiency and the cost effectiveness of health care services were a key issue in the most recent election, and reining in health care costs has been […]