Thursday, 16 June 2016

On how to manage best in a multi-dimensional world

I sit in many committees, you could say I spend a good deal of my working life in committees. Whenever someone starts a sentence with “I am confused...” you can in 99.5% be sure that this is not a real confusion but that there is politics going on. People don't like something and they claim to be confused by the mere existence of what they dislike.
Imagine you have in your house a washing machine and a tumble drier. I would bet, unless you are totally drunk, it is clear to you what to use the washing machine for, and what the tumble drier. Are you confused by the two machines which might look similar? No, you aren't.
Imagine you have a kitchen, a living room and a bedroom. Does it confuse you what to do in which room? No, it doesn't. And would you consider it an improvement having just one, single room instead? No, you wouldn't.
Ok, if you are completely new to something and have, for instance, different tools for doing things, you might at first feel confused. But is that real confusion or is it just the lack of familiarity with the tools, the typical learning curve which you face as a novice user in any new area you enter. And what's the remedy to this – you make yourself familiar with the tools and start learning how to use them. That is essential behaviour; in essence that is how mankind has evolved from stone age to the present times.
In other words: thank God that the homo erectus was not confused...
I also like things simple. Don't make things more complicated than they need to be. Strive for simplicity – do as much as necessary but as simple as possible. That's a perfect motto in life – including work. And be consistent. Don't talk about apples when you mean pears.
But consistency does not mean reduce everything to one – in order to avoid confusion or whatever. Singularity is not a value. On the contrary, it may be a curse.
If all you have is a sledge hammer, you may be able to fix small nails to the wall – but is that intelligent? Is that future proof? No, it isn't.
Now what's actually my point, you may wonder. I currently hear a lot of talking about the need for a single strategy. E.g. a single strategy for standardisation in Europe. And a single planning tool. But can you really have a single strategy for responding to all challenges, for addressing all complexities in an appropriate and effective way? I don't believe that.
The world is multi-dimensional – and so are the issues we want to address. One size doesn't fit all. What you want to be is coherent. Things need to be able to work together. But you don't want to have just one single strategy for everything, one single instrument for getting things done. And different areas have different complexities which require different experts to be involved, consulted, etc.
Your strategy needs to be to be well set up for managing well in this multi-dimensional world. But for sure you need different strategic approaches for different issues and objectives; you need different tools for effectively making progress; and you need to have the respective different experts available to support your strategies.
If you want to reduce all that to a single strategy, a single tool, a single group of experts you are at risk to ignore realities and and you are ready to reduce everything into an inflexible environment which lacks all dynamics to properly understand the complexities and to properly react to them, let alone taking leadership on them.
I have done a good deal of work on open innovation and on openness versus proprietary. The conclusion is that there is no either / or. There is no open or proprietary. It is always “and”. And those players play best who have found the proper balance between all the different options and approaches. That is the right strategy: Learn to play the claviature well, build your strategies accordingly so that you are in a good position to always strive for finding the right balance which brings most value to you.
A leviathan or single moloch will not help you on the long run. It is anti-Enlightenment, anti-innovation. Acknowledging the multi-dimensional world as it is, being set up to properly address the different dimensions, and bringing things into balance is the much more promising way.

1 comment:

Skiller said...

Great post! Thanks!