Home/Tag: Complexity

2009 Accreditation kicks off

The 2009 Cognitive Edge Accreditation kicked off in Johannesburg today. We're running the accreditation in conjunction with Cognitive Edge and Steve Bealing (CEO) is here from Singapore running the session. It's Steve's first visit to South African, and Africa for that fact. He's on a whirlwind learning curve on South African culture and traffic ... We'll be live-tweeting the event over the next few days at Follow us there for course updates, thoughts and nuggets of wisdom on narrative and complexity.  

“I’ll go down, I’m not scared to die …”

Give me a chance to go down today, I'll do it!  I'm desperate to get out of this poverty. I'm not scared to die or get arrested because even the police are involved in this. I don't blame zama-zamas; in fact I'm encouraged by their initiative." These are the words of a 18 year old jobless hostel resident in Welkom, South Africa.  These words are especially disturbing after  a week where at least 76 illegal miners (zama-zama's or chance-takers) have died [...]

By |June 5th, 2009|Categories: Complexity|Tags: , |0 Comments

Swarm theory – does it apply to humans?

"If you're looking for a role model in a world of complexity, you could do worse than to imitate a bee." This is the end quote from an engaging National Geographic article on Swarm Theory. As the quote suggests, there's much to learn from the swarming habits of insects in terms of finding novel, effective and efficient solutions to complex problems. The technical term for this process is "self-organisation" and the encouragement is for managers to, in the face of complex problems, implement a self-organising management [...]

Unintended consequences

An article in the news today reported concern among AIDS organisations and Doctors without Borders about a worrying new trend where people are neglecting to take life-saving medication in order to qualify for government subsidies.  In South Africa, the government pays a special disability grant to people living with HIV.  The problem seems to be that there is no standard set of guidelines as to determining who qualifies for the subsidy and who doesn't.  Some doctors are basing their recommendations [...]

An ecology of present possibilities

This post is largely inspired by a comprehensive blog entry by Dave Snowden on a new approach to Scenario Planning.   Much of what he says is key to the thinking behind our new Thrive! product. Seneca said: "The greatest loss of time is delay and expectation, which depend upon the future. We let go the present, which we have in our power, and look forward to that which depends upon chance, and so relinquish a certainty for an uncertainty" In [...]

Thrive! The role of metaphors … Part 2

In the first Part of this series, Sonja spoke of how the current economic malaise is prompting us to engage with a new management paradigm. She also surfaced a metaphor (moving from being a builder to gardener) as an analogy for what we believe the new paradigm should be. It might have struck as a rather simple analogy, but we believe metaphors have a greater influence on our attitudes, values and behaviours than we give them credit for. Metaphors uncover [...]

Thrive! The new leadership paradigm – from builder to gardener … Part 1

Turbulence. We know the feeling: it starts out with a little shaking. The captain switches on the seatbelt sign, and just as you’re about to click the belt buckle in place, the plane hits an air pocket and it feels as if the bottom of the plane is going to fall out. Then, a few seconds later, the plane stabilizes and your stomach returns to its usual anatomical position. ... This experience of turbulence is akin to what we are [...]

Case studies and fables

After two weeks of spending all my time on preparing a BIG tender sumbission, I came across a link to this HBR article on Dave Snowden's blog this morning. We believe that businesses have become addicted to prescription - mindlessly copying the latest best practice or case study. Very seldom do we come across leaders who are trailblazers, preferring to be the firs ones to venture into a new area.  Usually we're asked the question: So, where has this been done before?  Everyone seems [...]

By |April 14th, 2009|Categories: Complexity|Tags: , |0 Comments

News: Thrive! .. a new offering

Sonja and I are really chuffed to announce a new offering:Thrive! through Effective Adaptation. Since about October last year it has become clear that our old ways of managing people and business  have been found wanting amidst the economic meltdown. We have watched eagerly as to how the business world is responding. One of the responses that concerns us is the "lean" approach that believes our businesses will survive if we just manage to cut costs effectively and become leaner [...]

Pendulums and Knee-jerk reactions

When a system is over-constrained (i.e. there are too many rules or too much bureaucracy) it often folds back into chaos i.e. order collapses.  For example, too much bureaucracy forces employees to find all kinds of work-arounds to get their work done, leading to a collapse of discipline.  Once a system is in chaos, order is often imposed by a despotic leader.  All goes well for a while, but slowly the bureaucracy creeps in again, and in an attempt to [...]