A summary of links related to a talk at a civil service conference in Northern Ireland.
Today I spoke about "The problem with Business Change..."at Integrated EA - a conference on enterprise architecture in government and defence
This post was originally an announcement on fodengrealy.com - Changes in Foden Grealy explains why it is here. ---
I will be speaking at a symposium - An Agile Approach: The key to success? - at the Defence Academy at Shrivenham on 12 September 2012.
After some head-scratching I decided to call my talk "Complexity and the incremental change revolution"; the conference blurb says...
This talk is about complexity in organisations and the need for a revolution in how we think about and manage change. It will explain why it is critically important for government to develop a capacity for incremental change and the deep shifts in mindset that will be needed to enable it. Drawing on real examples, it will describe the profound cultural barriers to adopting incremental approaches and practical things that can be done to get over them. It will look at ‘Agile’ and the challenges for IT people in particular.
There are more details on LinkedIn. It's £50 (or £15 if you are a Cranfield/Shrivenham alumnus). Nice day in the country. Bang up lunch. Come along to cheer/heckle.
If you are struggling with (what feels like) a messy and intractable problem, it may help to take 10 minutes to read this absolutely excellent summary of the thinking around Complexity by Jurgen Appelo. For those involved with fixing the problems in Government IT, I'd say it is unmissably important. So ...er ...don't miss it... Complexity Thinking
Lately I have been hearing much talk about government needing to take more risk and learn from failure (and so on); not least from Sir Gus O'Donnell in an article in the Telegraph yesterday. But this thinking is wrong: government should be taking less risk...
I infer a model of thinking that goes: The old ideas aren't working any more... so we need to be innovative and adopt radical new ones... because the ideas are new we don't know what will happen so this is risky... but we have no choice so that's OK... if things go wrong we must be mature and learn from the failure rather than throw stones... next time we will know better.
I don't see it this way.
The problems of government are complex (see my stuff about complexity) and it is not possible to predict how interventions will turn out. We should absolutely, absolutely not be gambling. We must not take big new ideas and build them into big new solutions.
We must be incremental. Obsessively compulsively so. We must take these big new ideas and develop them through experiment. We need to take small risks fast and be connected with the outcomes so that we can adapt instantly. And this won't at all feel like 'learning from failure'.
I remember some wisdom of (my esteemed colleague) Vince Grealy who is a talented orienteer. He said once that really good orienteers are not necessarily the fastest runners or the best map readers; they are those who spot when they have gone wrong soonest. Running 20m the wrong way and doubling back is a blip: not noticing for 200m is a failure.
The risk (if there is one) is in adopting this new incremental way of working. It's about having the courage - and the political skill - to take action without having all the answers. To do this senior folks will need to give up the illusions of certainty and control that come from traditional set-piece projects. This will feel very uncomfortable for many.
So, take small risks and don't fail... but do loads and loads of it very fast.
What do you think? Do please leave a comment.
Following on from thinking in a few recent posts about the emerging nature of change in government (and after inspiration and help from Noah Raford... Governments are facing new, game-changing complexity. They are dealing with increasingly pressing and diverse problems: from improving public services, to ensuring national security, to dealing with the global financial crisis. Each problem has its own specific set of issues; but now, in a world of mounting complexity, these issues interact and it is near-impossible to manage them separately. A focus on applying the right technical solution for each problem in isolation is unlikely to work. The real challenge is to develop cultures that will enable people in government to make sense of, and deal with, complex situations in appropriate, holistic ways.
The new challenges
The new challenges of government can be considered in three areas: Complexity, Culture and Community…
The challenges of government are not just getting more complicated; they are getting Complex. Complexity is different. In Complicated situations, cause-and-effect can be predicted: in Complex ones, because these situations are too new, too dynamic or too uncertain, it can’t.
Complicated problems can be solved through clever analysis and the use of existing practice. Whilst we will still have Complicated challenges (best dealt with in traditional ways) the bulk of critically important ones now facing Government are Complex and need different treatment.
Crucially, applying Complicated solutions to Complex challenges is likely to be unfruitful and possibly counter-productive. A different approach is needed if government is to thrive in the 21st Century.
In the past when things were just Complicated, we were able to hire experts to think our way to a solution. This doesn’t work when things are complex. Why?
Look at a stark example from the UK National Health Service. The UK Department of Health spent billions on an IT project to manage patient health records, which has now been abandoned…
"The Department of Health is not going to achieve its original aim of a fully integrated care records system across the NHS. Trying to create a one-size-fits-all system in the NHS was a massive risk and has proven to be unworkable.” Chair of UK Government Public Accounts Committee
Complexity was at the heart of the failure. The programme was too ambitious, requirements were too diverse, suppliers were too hard to manage, stakeholders were too unsupportive (and so on). The approach was essentially a top-down, analytic one: hire some smart people to work out the answer and then build a system to implement it. But Complex problems don’t need more expertise or better answers; they need a culture of dealing with complexity. When things are Complex, Government has to be flexible. It must be able to design and build systems whilst, at the same time, trying to understand and change them: perhaps like learning a musical instrument whist trying to make a living from playing it.
Culture is important. Government organisations need to be more responsive to their operating environments; they need to be more agile. Sub-units, that were previously separated for efficiency reasons, must interact spontaneously and not because they have been told to. Individuals at all levels must take more responsibility and their managers must enable (rather than control) them as they do that. Organisations must think and operate more as networks and less as hierarchies. All this means a significant change in behaviour: a change that will feel as uncomfortable as writing with the wrong hand. This new approach will not be brought about by altering structure or processes or technology.
These ideas mostly run against the grain of the way governments are structured and managed: behaviours, beliefs and ways of doing things would feel very different. On top of this, whilst Complexity is turning things upside down, the Complicated stuff hasn’t gone away either. Everything needs to be juggled at the same time: Government needs to grow new ways around old ones and everyone involved must understand why different situations need different approaches.
A new culture is needed.
The make-up and functioning of government communities also presents a significant challenge. To create a culture of dealing with complexity it is necessary to nurture a community of staff that appreciates how to deal with complexity. It is often difficult for government cultures that have grown up with strict rules and complicated procedures to make this shift. In IT, for example, working in a complex way can bring significant, unexpected change. This can create headaches for security teams, support services, policy people and administrators. These problems cannot be designed away, since they are required by the nature of the complex situation themselves. So it is crucial to involve those likely to be affected right from the beginning. The distinction is that when it’s Complicated you need to build teams to solve problems: when it’s Complex you need to grow communities to improve situations.
What to do?
Encouragingly there are plenty of smart and influential people involved with Government who understand these issues and are pioneering new solutions. Take a look at Tim O’Reilly talking about his vision of Government as a Platform. O’Reilly sees a need to develop open infrastructures – particularly IT ones – to enable individuals, companies and social enterprises to participate much more in government and so provide the innovation, diversity and energy needed to deal with Complex situations. Of course this is not going to be a binary flip: governments will need to develop these collaborative ways and have them co-exist with the more traditional ones.
This approach has perhaps three components: Experimentation, Collaboration and Openness …
To create something big and Complicated - like a new road system – then of course the right thing to do is turn to engineers and other professionals who do this kind of thing for a living. To do something big and Complex - like changing the way an organisation works - don’t do the same thing. There is too much uncertainty, too much dynamism and too much complexity. Instead, focus on the Small - lots and lots of fast, iterative Small. The more experiments, the better, as long as open and non-punitive feedback is encouraged as well.
The point is to succeed or fail fast, and often, and do it in small ways that don’t have consequences should things go wrong. This way we can learn and progress quickly. If we don’t, we are prone to missing opportunities and making big, expensive mistakes.
In Complex situations traditional means of coordination, through organisational hierarchies, are not responsive enough. Organisations need to be more spontaneous; when faced with a problem or an opportunity, people need to be able to respond themselves rather than wait for managers. This means people must have the facility both to identify the others they need to work with and then to coordinate that work effectively. Tools like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and WordPress are transforming interaction and cooperation in our private lives: there is a huge opportunity to use similar tools within organisations to transform our work lives.
Incorporating social capabilities into work tools and creating the culture to use them effectively will take time but is critical to future success: see the recent McKinsey report The rise of the networked enterprise or the Forbes article Social Power – The coming corporate revolution. There is currently huge emphasis on creating tools to store and distribute information but, in dealing with Complexity, it is more important to connect People with People than it is to connect People with Information.
Complexity creates enormous and pressing demand for new capabilities. It will not be possible for government departments to provide everything everyone wants. It is therefore essential that they reach out to both their “customers” and their partners to help understand and deliver novel ways of doing things. To do this effectively there is a need for both new infrastructure and a new culture of outward looking, collaborative staff.
The iPhone is an example of this kind of thing. Apple provide a robust technology infrastructure and facilities for anyone with the skills to create applications for it – there are now nearly 500,000 iPhone apps that Apple could never have created themselves. The same approach could be taken in government to empower partner organisations, internal teams or even gifted amateurs amongst the staff to bring innovative ideas to life.
This thinking is developing in the UK. For example, some local councils are partnering with a social enterprise called Fix My Street - a service that allows citizens to report on problems like holes in the road, graffiti and illegal dumping of waste using a website and associated mobile applications. The initiative is reducing clean-up times and increasing satisfaction of local residents.
Such initiatives have three important features: open technical infrastructure made available to all; open services that enable others to use that infrastructure; and, crucially, open behaviours that create a cohesive, helpful community around the infrastructure that will ensure it is used. And this openness starts with friendly, can-do, inclusive behaviours from everyone involved (and not really the technology): the culture thing again.
The right people
There’s no doubt that developing these new ways of doing things will be a challenge. Altering organisational behaviours takes subtle, thoughtful action by emotionally competent folks with a genuine knack for handling emergent change. Governments will need to look hard and think laterally to find them.
From the inside
People, both workers and managers, who have done well in typically procedural government environments, may not be ideally suited to guiding a transition to more emergent ways of working. New thinking will be needed.
There are people with the right mind-set already in government organisations. Some may not be visible because of the jobs they are in or because they are comparatively junior: they will need to be found, encouraged and perhaps offered different work. Some may be noticeably frustrated: with support and in a changed environment, perhaps their energies can be directed for the good. Those with the best potential may be mavericks or otherwise unusual: don’t ignore them.
It may also be necessary to find a few new people from the outside. The right ones may come from quite different backgrounds and have little experience of the work at hand. They will probably not be easily found through traditional recruitment methods.
From the outside
Many government organisations have established relationships with large providers of consultancy, and that is the natural place to look for help; but consultancies optimised for analysing complicated stuff, designing intricate things, delivering big projects or who are otherwise steeped in Complicated ways of working are likely to find it hard to adapt their approach to handling the Complex. It’s a little like expecting Olympic gold-medal-winning rowing crews to retrain and repeat their success in Synchronised-swimming. Whilst these organisations may have individuals with the right skills, the context in which they work and the way they are managed makes it hard for them to behave in, and support, the emergent ways of working needed to cope with complexity.
Since handling complexity is about organic changes rooted within the organisation there is much less scope for big set-piece technology implementations or organisational restructurings. There is much less money to be made. With big providers, there would always be an urge to convert help for the Complex into more profitable support for the Complicated; and this may not be the right thing. The DNA of these organisations is just not right: smaller organisations that focus specifically on supporting emergent change may be a better choice.
Complexity changes the game of government. To be successful in the future, governments must foster the emergence of a quite different working culture that simultaneously copes with the new complexity and continues to deliver existing services reliably and well. This new culture must combine: an experimental, iterative, holistic approach to tackling big challenges; intensive collaboration with colleagues, partners and citizens; and openness of infrastructure, technology and behaviours. Finding the right people to lead the development of these new ways of thinking and working will be absolutely critical.
In times of change the learners will inherit the earth while the knowers will find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists. Eric Hoffer
This post is about how government organisations need to change, and how to get the right people to do the right things to make this change happen. In particular, I will talk about hired help. And about noses.
I'll start with Complexity (again). If you have read other posts on this blog, you will know that I think complexity is a big deal and that it's vital for us all to develop a shared understanding of how to cope with it. You will also know that I am fond of David Snowden’s Cynefin framework that helps explain it...
If you are not familiar with Cynefin then do take a look at the Wikipedia page about it or, probably better, this 4 minute video. The framework describes four main types of organisational situation: Simple, Complicated, Complex and Chaotic; and recommends how to make decisions and respond in each situation. Cutting things short, our approaches to doing things in government have largely been built to cope with Simple and Complicated situations, which can be dealt with by relying on existing Best/Good Practice (see the diagram); but now the centre of gravity of the challenges has moved to the Complex situation...
Whilst we will still have Complicated challenges (best dealt with in a traditional, linear way) the bulk of critically important ones are now Complex and will need a different approach, which Snowden calls Emergent. I particularly like the ideas of Donald Kettl who talks about the need to move away from, what he calls, 'Vending-machine government' towards a collaborative model. This collaborative approach will feel strange: emergent vs planned, egalitarian vs authoritarian, entrepreneurial vs directive, networked vs hierarchical, open vs closed and so on. There's a great summary of this in this blog post by John Kamensky.
Encouragingly there are plenty of smart and influential folks who get Mr Kettl's ideas and are doing something about them. Take a look at Tim O'Reilly talking about his vision of Government as a Platform. O'Reilly sees a need to develop of open infrastructures - particularly IT ones - to enable individuals, companies and social enterprises to participate much more in government and so provide the innovation, diversity and energy needed to deal with Complex situations. Of course this is not going to be a binary flip: governments will need to develop these collaborative ways and have them co-exist with the more traditional ones. Which will be a challenge. A bit like keeping matter and anti-matter in your trousers.
This is big stuff indeed. There is a need to spark a social revolution in our government organisations to enable, what feel to me like, mighty changes in culture and behaviour. This is itself a Complex problem; and critically - the nub of this post - won't get done through change programmes of the sort we are mostly used to. If you want to create something big and Complicated - like a new road system - then of course the right thing to do is to put yourself in the hands of engineers and other professionals who do this kind of thing for a living. If you want to do something big and Complex - like changing the way your organisation works - don't do the same thing. First, don't do Big because Big probably won't work: lots of Small, done fast, is better. And second, don't be tempted, even if IT is involved, to hand it over to someone else. Beware of strangers bearing slide-rules and To-be diagrams: change like this has to come from within. (And no Zen Master jokes please.)
If you want more on what needs to be done, take a look at my earlier post - Creating cultures that cope with complexity.
Encouraging new behaviours needs subtle, thoughtful action by emotionally competent folks with a genuine knack for handling emergent change. For example, Malcolm Gladwell's Law of the Few (from his book Tipping Point) resonates with me, he says: "The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts". Specifically he talks about: Connectors who have a special ability to bring people together; Mavens who are 'almost pathologically helpful' sharers of critical information; and Salesmen who have the magic of getting others to agree with them. This is not of course the whole story, but thinking like this is glaringly, glaringly absent from popular government change cookbooks - like Managing Successful Programmes.
So, if you have realised that you need emergent change in an organisation geared up for doing largely the opposite, what do you do? What is emergent and how do you know when to be it? Usually Complex things are mangled together with Complicated ones: how do you unpick them and treat each the right way? Where do you find Gladwell's Few and, having found them, what do you ask them to do?
The inescapable bottom line is that you need a nose for it: you need to develop an instinct for working this way. And this will come mostly from having a go: 'learning by doing'. The good news is that (as William Gibson said), "The future is already here - it's just not well distributed"; there are plenty of people doing this already and, because openness is fundamental to their way of working, they are sharing it like mad. The Web is soaking in their thinking. You just need to take the time to find their work and connect with them. They will help you, and the really valuable help will be free.
OK, you may feel the need for some more-focused, short-term help to get things going. So where to look for it?
Many government organisations have established relationships with large providers of consultancy, and that is the natural place to look. But, organisations optimised for analysing complicated stuff, designing intricate things, delivering big projects or who are otherwise steeped in the Complicated, are unlikely to have what it takes when it comes to the Complex: it's just so different. Put another way (and you will say I am being grossly naughty here) how many Olympic gold-medal-winning rowing crews have gone on to similar success in Synchro-swimming? Whilst these organisations may have individuals with the right skills, the context in which they work and the way they are managed makes it very hard for them to behave in, and support, the Emergent ways I have been talking about. The DNA of these organisations is just not right. Also, since there's not a whole lot of money to be made in this area, there would always be an urge to convert help for the Complex into much more valuable support for the Complicated; and this may not be the right thing.
If you are looking for this sort of help, you are most likely to find the noses you need in very small organisations that focus specifically on supporting emergent change. (Er... a bit like us, maybe.)
What's your view? Do these ideas ring bells or maybe you think I am subconsciously inventing ways to keep myself fed. If you are in a big consultancy, maybe you think I am dead wrong. Do please let me know what you think.
I have just finished reading the Public Administration Select Committee's (PASC) recent report on Change in Government (pdf). Undoubtedly much effort has gone into it, with contributions from many wise people; but I can’t help feeling that it misses something very important, which makes the thrust of its conclusions …er …wrong. This thing is Complexity...
Everywhere things are getting more complex. I believe that (probably some time ago) we have crossed a sort of Rubicon to a place where the conventional wisdom of government is a lot less reliable. It’s as though the laws of physics have changed. To me the problems we face, such as the particularly acute ones in government IT, are arising because we are trying to make sense of this new place using old laws; and it's not working.
If you are not familiar with the concepts of complexity - take a look at David Snowden's Cynefin or Rittel & Webber's Wicked Problems. The essence (drawing on the language from Cynefin) is that there is a difference between the Complicated and the Complex. When things are Complicated, cause and effect can be predicted: when they are Complex, they cannot. In a Complicated world the way to do things is Sense>Analyse>Respond: collect information, analyse that information then take action on the basis of the analysis. In a Complex world things are different because the Analyse bit is just too hard to do. The right response is through iteration of Probe>Sense>Respond: take some action, see what happens and take some more action.
Up to now, we have built pretty much everything around us using the Complicated model; it has even put men on the moon. The model has served us very well and pervades the workings of government. Take a look at the Conclusion section of the PASC's report...
"The challenges facing Whitehall will require a Civil Service reform programme more extensive in size and scope than attempted for many years. We have received little evidence that the Government is engaging with the factors that determine the success of such reform programmes, namely establishing the appropriate scope for change, setting clear objectives and timescales for reforms, and ensuring central coordination and political support. Most importantly, we have no sense of what the Government thinks a reformed Civil Service will look like. Without a clear set of objectives, Civil Service reform and, therefore, the wider public service reform programme will fail.
Most Departments are aware of what they are seeking to achieve, but we have seen little evidence that many Departments have thought clearly about how they will make these changes or the nature of leadership required to implement them. We are concerned that any change to the Civil Service must overcome substantial inertia. A cultural change to accept new ideas, innovation, decentralisation, localism and the Big Society, necessary if these flagship government policies are to succeed, will only come with leadership and a clear plan.
We consider that in preparing for the necessary reform there is no substitute for the development of a centre for the operation of Government which is truly world-class and properly equipped to support delivery departments throughout the reform process and beyond. The scale of the challenges faced by the Civil Service call for the establishment of such a corporate centre, headed by someone with the authority to insist on delivery across the Civil Service. We propose to return to this issue in any future examination of the role of the Head of the Home Civil Service."
Summarising, this Conclusion says that, for reform to be successful, the Government needs a clearer vision, better planning, stronger leadership and enhanced central control: an archetypical Complicated approach. This thinking is further starkly highlighted in paragraph 64 of the report, which says...
"...but the Government’s approach lacks leadership. The Minister [Francis Maude] rejected the need for a central reform plan, preferring “doing stuff” instead. We have no faith in such an approach."
This instinct to follow the Complicated approach is deeply, deeply ingrained in Government culture, hence the reaction to Mr Maude's ideas. To the PASC, the ideas do not fit - they sound unprofessional - and, were this an essentially Complicated situation, I would think the same. But, if we are dealing with a mainly Complex one then Mr Maude is probably right: "doing stuff" is precisely what is needed; provided, of course, it is the right "stuff" and is properly part of a Probe>Sense>Respond approach. Going through months of analysing, visioning and planning would be a waste of time and resource. Whether Mr Maude is advocating "doing stuff" for the right reasons is another issue but I was encouraged by this exchange in a transcript of an evidence session in the report (Q214)...
Francis Maude: When we started talking about how we are going to support mutuals, the first response was: “Well, we need to have a plan, a programme, and devise rights and systems and processes.” And when I reflected on that, I thought, “I could not think of a better way of killing the idea dead.”
Chair: That may well be true, but that is not an argument against having a plan.
Francis Maude: Well no, it is, actually. The right approach is to find people who want to do this and support them, and as they try and set up their cooperatives and mutuals find out what the blocks are.
(Perhaps Mr Maude is becoming one of my Wicked Politicians?)
I should make it completely clear that I am not advocating a wholesale let-it-all-hang-out-Man approach to management across government. The Complicated stuff will still be there and will still need the Sense>Analyze>Respond approach; but it is crucial that we become good at spotting what is Complex and then handling it the right way because that's where the big problems are likely to be.
To me, Civil Service reform feels significantly Complex; and we should deal with it according to the appropriate laws of physics.
But maybe I have got this Complexity thing all out of proportion and it isn't as important as I make out. Let me know what you think.
This post is a summary of a talk I did on complexity and culture in the context of government IT at the Design of Information Systems Symposium at the Defence Academy at Shrivenham on 14 Sep 11 (see abstract). It's intended as a reference for those who attended; it does not have the details of some of the examples that I talked about on the day and may well lack context if you weren't there...
The Internet is bringing game-changing complexity to Government IT. Whilst there are significant technical issues to be resolved, the real challenge is in promoting cultures that will allow appropriate responses to emerge and then enable those responses with the right technology.
The challenges of government are not just getting more complicated; they are getting Complex. Which is subtly different. Essentially: in Complicated situations cause and effect can be predicted - in Complex ones it can't. This is all explained very neatly in David Snowden's Cynefin Model and in the ideas behind Wicked problems. Whilst reasoning and design work beautifully for the Complicated: in the Complex they do not. Complexity needs sensing and incrementalism... which seems like winging things. Which is troublesome, because the right way is potentially counter-cultural and, for many, will feel just wrong. And this (I'd say) is the principal reason we have the problems we do in government IT.
When things are Complex... Think Grow not Build.
In the past when things were just plain old Complicated we were able to think our way to a solution, build it, do the 'business change' and Bob was one's uncle. When it's Complex, we have to be more agile: designing and building and changing all at the same time. We must be able to Explore the potential of a new capability whilst we are starting to get benefit from it; and this is inherently risky because it's often not possible to do all of the i-dotting and t-crossing necessary for smooth and efficient routine operation at the same time. It's particularly awkward doing this in organisations that are culturally dead keen on smoothness and efficiency (see my mutterings about the recent Public Accounts Committee report on Government IT). And, whilst Complexity is turning things upside down, the Complicated stuff hasn't gone away either. Everything needs to be jigged together nicely: we need to grow new cultures around old ones and everyone involved must understand why different situations need different approaches. We must match culture to the maturity of developing capabilities and make sure that we do the right things at the right time (which is explained in more detail in the How to think about IT - 4Ex Model). Bottom line: in Complex situations - if we don't make room for this exploratory culture - at best we will under-achieve and at worst we will end up in deep ...er circumstances.
When things are Complex... Explore before you leap.
It is difficult to nurture cultures that cope with complexity inside ones that have have grown up to cope with... well... nearly the opposite. In IT, working in an agile way can bring significant, unexpected change, which can create headaches for security teams, support services, policy people and all sorts of other folks. These problems cannot usually be designed away, so it is crucial to involve those likely to be affected right from the beginning. Not by listing them on a stakeholder management plan, but making them genuinely part of the community creating the new capability; so that they feel purpose. Some may be heavily engaged and some not much at all, but it's important that they all feel involved and valued. It's only with this involvement that the inevitable risks and issues of working in this way can be handled quickly and pro-actively. It's doesn't take much for a critical stakeholder to gum things up by just doing their job. The distinction is that when it's Complicated you need to build teams to solve problems: when it's Complex you need to grow communities to improve situations.
When things are Complex...Ask "Show me the community".
Complexity creates enormous and immediate demand for new capabilities. It will not be possible for IT departments to provide everything everyone wants, so it will help a lot if there is a way for others, who have the necessary development skills, to build things when they are needed. These people could be hired-in teams, IT departments in partner organisations or even gifted amateurs in the bodies of organisations. The iPhone is an example: Apple provide a robust technology platform and facilities, for anyone with the skills, to create applications for it - there are now nearly 500,000 iPhone apps that Apple could never have created themselves. It's possible to do the same sort of thing within organisations and I reckon there are three important bits to consider: open technology that is available to all; open services that enable others to use that technology; and, crucially, open behaviours that create a cohesive, helpful community around the technology that will ensure that technology is used. And this openness starts with friendly, can-do, inclusive behaviours from everyone involved and not really the technology: the culture thing again.
When things are Complex... Make stuff open (and be open yourself).
In Complex situations, traditional means of coordination through organisational hierarchies are not responsive enough. Organisations need to be more spontaneous; when faced with a problem or an opportunity, people need to be able to respond themselves rather than wait for managers. This means people need the facility both to identify the others they need to work with and then to coordinate that work effectively (see The Flood). Tools like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Wordpress are transforming interaction and cooperation in our private lives: there is a huge opportunity to use similar tools within organisations to transform the way we work. Incorporating social capabilities in our work tools and creating the culture to use them effectively will take time but I believe that this is now pretty much non-optional; see, for example, The rise of the networked enterprise or Social Power - The coming corporate revolution. Whilst currently there is huge emphasis on creating tools to store and distribute information, in dealing with Complexity, it is more important to connect People with People than it is to connect People with Information.
When things are Complex... Build 'Social' into everything.
Complexity changes the game; and to be successful we need to allow new cultures to emerge...
If you were there, I hope you found the talk useful. Please do carry on the conversation by leaving a comment below.