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Complexity Management

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Our world is increasingly complex - our society and the economic system is developing fast - we constantly have to deal with surprises and uncertainty. This is especially the case in IT organisations that collaboratively and cross-functional work on innovations, "digitalization strategies" or "transformation projects".

Something is complex, when it is not possible to relate all its elements at the same time. There is no clear cause and result relationship. Decision making processes cannot be well structured.

But of course that should not be used as an excuse. This realisation can motivate us to find ways to better deal with it. To come to better and new ideas together, to take good decisions and to learn from them.

Complexity management capabilities describe the ability to deal with complexity. The more different dimensions are used to observe and analyse a situation, the higher they are differenciated and the faster this is done - the better complexity is managed. C2M Model

The complexity in IT initiatives and projects comes from the uncertainties of how a product is adopted by the users and the market, the nearly endless choices of technical ingredients, the team and organisational structures and the established collaboration and communication etc.

Agile methods and other best practices evolved from that challenges - and are now widely adopted - but without proper reflection and complexity management they can also lead to dysfunctional communication patterns.

Since we are solving problems in collaboration we also need to deal with the complexity of the communication system (social system):

  • We are often seeing how large and historical organisations have a hard time with their transformation initiatives.
  • We are seeing teams, where over the time dysfunctional patterns have emerged.
  • We see teams where no clear communication is established and where the important conflicts are not addressed.
  • We see teams that argue one-dimensional and spend time and energy in useless debates.
  • We see organisations that are full of internal orientation and activities - while they are losing the connection to the external customers and market.

An understanding of how communication systems are working - and what conditions for working communication (and therefore collaboration) exist, helps to address such situations better. It also helps to understand how we can use conflicts for creativity (creating new perspectives and ideas).

That includes the awareness that we can always learn from each other!

That is the reason we see systemic perspectives with proper system theoretical background emerging in the space of organisational development. We believe that proper learning of these perspectives and the awareness of complexity management capabilities can help organisations to form functional collaboration. This learning helps to reflect systems and oneself more conscious - and that can be a healthy condition for more impact and learning. It may also help that an organisation does not blindly follow the next model, agile "hype" or consultant promises.

More on that topic: Systemic Communication