One of the phrases Dave Snowden uses to describe Cognitive Edge and the use of complexity theory in organisations is ‘the new simplicity’. During our course last week, I reflected on this with some of the participants.
It’s interesting how often we ‘over-complicate’ things. We over-analyse problems and come up with such complicated solutions, that we’re often doomed to failure before we even start! Ironically, the opposite is also true – often we just don’t think things through. How many times have decision makers fallen for consultants and their recipes (or even worse ‘best practices’ imported from the US) without ever thinking about whether or not it would work in the context of their organisations?
When we change our approach and start looking for naturalistic solutions, ways to enhance pre-existing beneficial patterns in order to change the environment to allow the problem to solve itself, things suddenly become very simple. Think of the Grameen bank, how much simpler to stimulate the formation of self-regulating lending groups, than to attempt to refine credit-scoring systems ad infinitum. Once we start embracing this approach, and allow for safe-fail experiments in order to surface these pre-existing patterns, we discover that this truly is the new simplicity.