As we move into the Ecology Age, mining executives who choose to develop people with linear problem-solving skills to strengthen robustness plus complex problem-solving competencies to build resilience stand a far greater chance of achieving sustainability.
Colander & Kupers in their 2014 book Complexity and the art of public policy: Solving society’s problems from the bottom up wrote “
“Control, power, and authority are not necessary to establish Stability. Rather, complexity science shows that system interactions can reach a self-organizing and replicating stability on their own through the process of emergence.”
This insight conceivably says Stability +Agility will converge into one strategy. The first step in any problem-solving session is to start in the Cynefin Disorder domain. The first question to ask is: In which system – Order, Complex, Chaos – does the problem reside?
The propensity for people is to head to where they are most comfortable. For engineers and accountants, it’s the Order system due the considerable amount of formal education, training, and working experience designing, operating, and maintaining stable systems. Creative types are dispositioned to challenge the status quo and “break all the rules.” They will head to the Complex system and immediately start throwing out new ideas of their own making.
The power of the anthro-complexity approach is bringing together people with seemingly polarized attitudes to generate collaborate action. Below is an augmented list of questions Dave Snowden proffered to guide the complex facilitation process:
- What is the present state of play? What is the narrative landscape of attitudes and culture within the current organization?
- What are the natural constraints in play? They could be natural science based or based on past entrained practices.
- Within those constraints what currently has the lowest energy cost of replication? People will naturally gravitate towards them.
- Can you change the dispositional state to make desirable directions of travel/evolution more likely? Is so, test them out by nudging the system.
- If you can’t nudge, how can you disrupt the current system so new possible patterns become available? Look for the emergence of Adjacent Possibles on the landscape map.
- Within all of that, what is within your control to change? Consider removing, tightening, or loosening human-imposed constraints.
- Out of the things you can change, how can you monitor the impacts?
- Out of that set, where can you early amplify success or dampen failure?
- What successes can you turn into new solutions and practices that can be implemented by the organization?
Organizations who truly believe in sustainability have implemented the continuous 365/24/7 collection of narratives. The “Human Sensor Network” idea is that everyone is capable of sensing good and bad tensions. A tension is a gap between the way things are and what’s probable, possible, or plausible.
Decision-makers informed by a real-time dashboard are able to rapidly respond by implementing small changes to allow for dynamic reallocation of resources.