We have a tendency to be in love with our models, frameworks and methodologies. As I’ve written about before, obsessing about our processes and structures too much—or reinforcing them too formally—is never a good strategy. Nonetheless, we need some structure to work with and guide us in making sense of the world. A realization came to me while thinking about one particular model this week, that highlighted a particular tension. The more we know and apply our models, the less likely they are to bring about new ways of thinking. That creates a bit of a problem to solve.
We all have to get started some time. The longer that we orbit a large, messy, complex problem, the more complicated and difficult it can appear. Options and expectations weave together into a giant, tangled bundle of questions and choices that can seem impossible to unravel. Finding a way in, or even an end to grab on to, can seem an insurmountable challenge. The good news is that there are strategies that work to navigate the complicated and get to something that looks clearer.. It is all about knowing where to start.
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.
It is not entirely clear how long it will be before people are comfortable inhabiting meeting rooms again, even for very short and focussed interactions. Which raises some fundamental questions about how we go about having strategically important conversations. Our current reality changes how we facilitate, how we interact and how groups explore, unpack and resolve complex and messy questions. In trying to figure out alternative strategies, there are some fundamental problems that need to be solved.
It’s the unwritten rules that arguably most influence the culture of organizations. And organizational culture spills over into customer experiences. What is not necessarily clear is where the unwritten rules come from. In many—if not most—instances, they are a reaction to the written rules. Sometimes the influence is constructive. When the written rules are bureaucratic, unthinking or unfeeling, the unwritten rules and resulting behaviours can also be subversive. And sometimes they’re just destructive.
We fall in love with our models, our processes and our standards. They’re helpful when they help us to make sense of the world, but they can also get in the way. What we sometimes forget is that they were all invented to provide a perspective on a problem. That means we can change them, adapt them, evolve them and dispense with them when they stop providing value.