On what managers should (not) do to prmote change in uncertain circumstances.
A review of a book about applying the ideas of complex systems to government policy making.
On leopards. And spots.
Today I spoke about "The problem with Business Change..."at Integrated EA - a conference on enterprise architecture in government and defence
This is worth a serious listening to... How to change the future
...it is a recording of a talk about resolving important, complex social problems given at the RSA last Tuesday (2 Oct 12) by Adam Kahane. The introduction to the talk says...
People who are attempting to tackle these huge global problems often find themselves frustratingly stuck. They can’t solve their problems in their current context, which is too unstable or unfair or unsustainable. They can’t transform this context on their own — it’s too complex to be grasped or shifted by any one person or organization or sector. And the people whose cooperation they need don’t understand or agree with or trust them or each other.
Kahane explains his approach - called Transformative Scenario Planning - which is a way of tackling Complex (or Wicked problems). I am probably going to butcher things horribly here but the essence is... get a bunch of folks together who represent the entire problem in question (for a long time - days); and then, with sensitive facilitation, help them to work collaboratively and thoughtfully to develop stories of possible futures (the scenarios) and go on to describe ways these might be brought about. With the right people, at the right time, working in the right way, building the right relationships, some magic happens and stuff begins to change. This makes a lot of sense to me and I am impressed by Kahane's track record; he was, for example, involved with the transition to the end of apartheid.
I thought about how these ideas might be applied in the context of the big problems of Government IT (with which my work is mostly concerned). My sense is that, at heart, these are essentially social issues and not at all dissimilar to those Kahane talks about. I wonder if anything like his approach has been tried? I am suspecting not: there has been a wind of change in Government IT lately but, on the face of it, the approach has been rather more analytic than collaborative. Perhaps it is time to give ideas like these a shot?
What do you think?