Many CEOs know that their organization has the potential to multiply its results but they are stuck in a bind: they must expand but they must also control and manage risk in the way they operate. Result: the company is unable to express its full capabilities. Moreover, it is harder than ever to compete. There is global uncertainty and unprecedented levels of interconnections and interdependencies that impact every business directly. This challenge has a precise name in systems science: complexity.
Consultants (and Business Schools) don’t help when they ignore complexity and offer linear, scientifically flawed “solutions” that create or reinforce silos, leading to sub-optimal use of resources and whack-a-mole actions.
Why is everything so hard and uncertain?
We are living with unprecedented levels of interconnections and interdependencies that impact every business directly. This complexity makes it ever harder to compete if your company is fragmented into silos offering piecemeal solutions. At best, this creates a highly suboptimal use of all the resources available and leads to fire-fighting and whack-a-mole actions. Complexity cannot be addressed by breaking things into smaller pieces, in other words, falling into the temptation of artificially simplifying the problem (linear thinking) or by using conventional tools.
So what can be done?
To compete in our times of complexity requires a shift to a systems approach in the way we perceive and operate our organizations. The good news is that with the appropriate knowledge, method and tools, companies can leverage complexity to propel their performance and achieve significant and sustainable growth.
If CEOs have a vision that encompasses such growth and are committed to enhancing the performance of their operations (marketing, sales, R&D, manufacturing, project management, finance, etc.), then all that is missing is a method to combine three fundamental aspects:
- How to manage variation
- How to synchronize processes and projects through a strategically chosen leverage point (constraint)
- How to organize resources in a way that capitalizes on this knowledge
The ride is free but the door ain’t open. How can you open that door?
The price that CEOs and leaders pay to open the door is learning.
Knowledge is orderly, cumulative and often rational. But challenging what we think we know to acquire new knowledge can be very emotional. How can we reconcile these factors? The journey we need to embark on is the transformation of fragmented, siloed and individually managed activities into a cohesive and coherent network of conversations focused on the goal. How do we do that?
The Decalogue method, first published internationally in 1999, consists of ten transformational steps to equip any organization with the direction and the tools to shift from fragmentation to thinking and interacting as one, whole system with a well identified goal. It enables CEOs and leaders to orchestrate in a rational way the time and competencies available (finite capacity) so they are put to use in the most effective way. This has the predictable effect of unlocking potential that is currently under-utilized.
Even when we know what to do, why do we get stuck?
Without cognition, there can be no life. Cognition, in individuals and organizations, refers to the mental processes involved in gaining knowledge and comprehension. Over the years, we have witnessed how every organization has its own “cognitive constraint”; these are mental models, assumptions that prevent the company from moving forward. The Decalogue method provides the elements of knowledge and method to invalidate self-limiting assumptions. It transfers to companies the thought process and tools to create a well-defined and monitorable path to transition from a less than satisfactory present to a more desirable future. This instills clarity and confidence. As Dr. Deming used to say, learning is not compulsory, but neither is survival. Human life is a continuous process of cognition. No positive change is possible without some preliminary learning.
An evolved culture is built on collaboration
Digital transformation, COVID and an uncertain global scenario are awakening us to the realization that we’re all part of a network of networks of conversations. This calls for a different way of working, communicating, growing and making the most of our talents. Diversity is our natural ally in this. Economic and ecological sustainability go hand in hand and become inherent in a systems approach that recognizes the role of all stakeholders. The seed for this shift lies in the way we organize ourselves and collaborate to build a culture that can accomplish ever evolving and increasingly complex tasks. We have come to call this kind of organization a “Network of Projects“. And yes, if we aware of that, technology can help.
A new scenario requires more evolved tools
Thinking and acting against the backdrop of complexity requires not just a shift in the way we perceive and operate our organization but also the way we support it technologically.
No, we are not asking you to trust a piece of software to manage your organization. You never should. The question for a CEO becomes, how can our company make the most out of our leverage point, the constraint? How can we take the maximum out of our ability to generate value through the most effective use of our time and our competencies? This is the purpose of technology – to overcome limitations, and this is why we developed Ess3ntial as a digital platform to map competencies (sometimes hidden) and synchronize collaboration towards the goal, based on human competencies, not human bias.
(See also How to Improve Company Culture and Performance with a Transformation Based on Competencies https://www.intelligentmanagement.ws/how-improve-company-culture-and-performance-transformation-based-on-competencies/
Intelligent Management has been guiding organizations to adopt a systemic approach to manage complexity and radically improve performance and growth for over 20 years through our Decalogue management methodology. The Network of Projects organization design we developed is supported by our Ess3ntial software for multi-project finite scheduling based on the Critical Chain algorithm.
See our latest books Moving the Chains: An Operational Solution for Embracing Complexity in the Digital Age by our Founder Dr. Domenico Lepore, The Human Constraint – a digital business novel that has sold in 42 countries so far by Dr. Angela Montgomery and ‘Quality, Involvement, Flow: The Systemic Organization’ from CRC Press, New York by Dr. Domenico Lepore, Dr. .Angela Montgomery and Dr. Giovanni Siepe