Friday, 20 July 2007

How can we Manage 21st Century Complexity with 16th Century Thinking?

Sill far to many executives I meet use thought morphologies a kin to Newtonian Mechanics and Cartesian Logic. But that kind of linear - A-to-B-to-C- to-D - thinking cannot possible cope in an age of interconnections, where counterintuitive, paradoxical, and down right surprising outcomes occur.

Execs spend months on quantitative business analysis, months on developing five year plans, months on organisational planning; yet at the end of the day the numbers don’t meet the market realities of double gate exponential technological innovation acceleration, the industry actuality of Hyperinnovation, of pip squeak outfits creating disruptive innovations that knock the corporate skyscrapers bandy.

How can the big manufacturing corporations compete when single mums begin to print out 3D objects (spoons, cups, teapots and babies bottle) in the kitchen at home, for near next to nothing?

In fact this counterintuitive, paradoxical and surprising, soon to be reality, is so alien to linear-logic that it either scares the living daylights out of many an executive or is so off the chart that they don‘t (can’t) even perceive it.

Tight order and control is their mantra. Mention phrases like emergent teams, swarms systems, open culture, and you get that ‘evil gaze.’

If corporate executives are to see the future first, create competitive visions that create new billion dollar markets, mobilise the workforce as a dynamic self-organising system, then they need new and up to date ways of thinking.

Systems thinking is a good start. Multidimensional thinking is better. But will they convert to 21st century thinking? I don’t know.

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