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Capitalizing on Complexity – important new study

I have just come across an IBM study (‘Capitalizing on Complexity’) which reveals that the world’s private and public sector leaders believe that a rapid escalation of “complexity” is the biggest challenge confronting them. They expect it to continue — indeed, to accelerate — in the coming years.

They are equally clear that their enterprises today are not equipped to cope effectively with this complexity in the global environment. And they identify “creativity” as the single most important leadership competency for enterprises seeking a path through this complexity.

As the chairman of IBM says: “events, threats and opportunities aren’t just coming at us faster or with less predictability; they are converging and influencing each other to create entirely unique situations.”

Those of you who have been following my blogs will know that I have been preaching the importance of understanding the exponential nature of complexity. Managers typically underestimate the complexity of their projects and overestimate the capability of their organisations to cope with it.

The IBM study includes the advice: “predict and act,” not just “sense and respond.”  I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised to read what is almost a direct quote from David Snowden’s description of how to deal with complexity, in his Cynefin Framework – after all, he did that work while he was still at IBM…

Over the past few weeks I have been seeing a real convergence of thinking from companies, experts and people I meet, that draws me to the conclusion that there are some fundamental qualities in organisations that manage complexity and change successfully, and that we should be able to identify and promote these for the benefit of our clients.

More on that anon.

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March 8, 2011 - Posted by | business change management

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