Dealing with complexity
Why agility is more than speed.
Complex challenges require solutions that decentralize responsibility to survive in dynamic environments and in competition. Connecting people and trust in self-organized structures becomes more important than the mere desire to be faster and more flexible.
Complicated systems are relatively easy to master once you’ve seen through them. The situation is different with complex systems: here the interplay and the interactions of the individual elements are so interwoven that they can no longer be clearly represented in formulas. The behavior of the system therefore becomes unpredictable.
Especially in an increasingly digitized world, the effects of complexity are becoming increasingly noticeable. The uncertainty of individuals is increasing, because lack of predictability makes it difficult to make the right decisions. And even organizations fail noticeably and visibly to make decisions confidently, if they continue to apply well-tried methods and mechanisms to complex problems. The need for new courses of action is becoming increasingly aware.
Hierarchically organized leadership functions observe the success of agile teams and companies and arrange the introduction and application of agile methods in their own organization. However, the lasting and impressive effects of the new ways of working are largely absent. A relapse into proven action patterns nullifies agile approaches, leaving disappointed employees and executives alike.
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Introducing agility by using methods will be unsuccessful. Organizations need to change extensively to actually become agile and vivid.
Organizing hierarchically organized teams with a “top-down” approach will reveal the impact of the organization on their employees. If the previous planning approaches from strategy, accounting and production processes have so far simulated a reliable security, agile methods act as if they carry immense uncertainty into the company.
Everyone reacts differently to insecurity. For some it feels uncomfortable because they do not know how to act and react. In the search for orientation, there is a call for a decision maker, which the hierarchical organization provided in large numbers. So here it is first necessary to become aware of the uncertainty and to deal with it actively.
Agile methods also can not completely eliminate uncertainty. However, they provide a way to deal with uncertainty in such a way that, despite this, progress can be made toward solving a complex problem.
Organizations that allocate decision-making power at management levels have a major disadvantage in complex environments: they are in the dark. Far away from customers and employees, important decision-making factors fade into the background, and factors irrelevant to value creation are overrated. The organization loses itself and ultimately becomes the victim of its structure – as well as its customers.
Self-organized teams decide for themselves what is done by whom and when. Because they are the best at assessing what they are capable of and where they have to set their limits. However, that does not mean that there are no longer any organizational structures. Even hierarchies are not necessarily abolished by self-organization.
There are now many forms of self-organization used by successful companies. However, it would be far too simple to just copy their approach one to one. Those who want to work in a self-organized way must find out what suits their own organization and what does not.
Insecure people who should organize themselves in complex environments – that can only go wrong! It takes a decision maker who clearly states what to do and what to do. And for that to work, employees need to be properly motivated: bonuses, a company car and a beautiful office with colorful beanbags in a beautiful building.
Anyone who looks at “his” employees and colleagues like that has a problem in complex environments. More and more employees are looking for employment in organizations that take them seriously as a personality. They are not looking for workers who willingly submit to the organization, but for organizatios that make sense and open up space.
Forms of organization that have proven successful in the past are too often based on a mechanistic view of the world dominated by power and control. Intrinsically motivated engagement is repressed and sacrificed in favor of processes and rules. Yet the intrinsic motivation would be extremely effective if it could unfold in the company.
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