I re-watched Uri Alon’s TED Talk on ‘Why truly innovative science demands a leap into the unknown’ and it reminded me of two potential issues when looking for help with organisational problems:
- Maps – We often hear about an organisational problem and how it was solved but seldom about the unexpected changes and adjustments made en route. This causes us to assume there should be a repeatable path from our problem to its resolution and our first instinct is to find a map and directions. The problem is that since our organisations are always evolving, any generalised directions would not necessarily apply and could actually be misleading. I believe it is more relevant and useful to have a few proven compass headings (see Creative Cycle) that provide some guidance but are not prescriptive.
- Guides – Organisations also tend to depend on ‘guides who know the map’. However, whilst they have the knowledge, they do not always have the know-how to navigate similar but new circumstances. We need individuals who have gained experience through false starts, changes in direction and results that did not meet expectations. We need individuals who can use their know-how to effectively work with compass headings and respond to what is happening in the specific situation.
Maps & guides for organisational help