Collaborate to Co-create

Be careful what you ask for

What makes no sense in the Complicated Domain can make perfect sense in the Complex Domain. In the Complicated Domain, what gets measured gets done. But that’s not necessarily true in the Complex Domain. Measures are deliberately not set to allow new metrics to emerge. Instead we monitor behaviour changes, both increasing and decreasing. They may point to a new pattern requiring new parameters. An example would be trying to describe circular motion using familiar Cartesian 3D coordinates. While it can be done, the preferred option is to apply spherical coordinates measuring radial distance as a length and angle in degrees.

As shown in the Berkana Institute video, collaboration is key to overcome the players bent on crushing change and remaining on the old S-curve. What’s the benefit of collaboration? The collective formed by the pioneers are first up the new S-curve leaving the resistors well behind. Apple competes directly with Samsung in the smartphone market. Yet Samsung is a major supplier of iPhone components. Together they lead the market.

Note that if the two loops are horizontally overlapped, we would get the “yellow bubble” depicted on the S-curve diagram.

Sense-Making is a collaborative approach

We design work on intractable problems to be a monitoring  and learning experience. Note the comparison with traditional problem analysis. By collecting stories, voices of impacted employees are heard. Each story becomes a data point on a culture landscape. A new pattern emerges from the landscape which can lead to a different vision. 


PA vs. SM
Click to enlarge

Problem analysis is weak in the Complex Domain. While the Sense-Making approach does not guarantee a solution will be found, the probability of finding one is higher.


Related References

Blog: Working with Front-line Managers and Supervisors

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