The wobbling effect : Stretch your complexity muscles! Part 2 Contextualization

Here are the comments I received from the first part 

“Does not make any sense!”

“Yet another weird metaphor Francois !”

“OMG this is it … we are not prepared for what is coming!”

When I facilitate my Think Tanks ( CROI, CRAM, CROC, CRIM and CRAQQ) my main goal is to make participants take a step back and reflect on the content of the day and find links with their organization current context.

I use this video to make the realize how important this is and how different reality can become when the perspective changes.

This takes times, effort and sometimes, a little accompaniment to nudge them in the right direction but hey… I am a nudger!

Back to the wobbling effect.

Is your organization wobbling? Or is it fixed in hierarchical concrete?

Do you or your employees have a sufficiently wide margin to manoeuvre in your day-to- day environment in order to do what you should be doing or, sadly, do you and your employee have to ask permission and validate every decision before acting?

Are you constrained by procedures, norms and protocols in everything thing you do?

Is your creativity limited to finding ways to circumvent stupid and obsolete rules?

Dee Hock said it best ( yes it has been a while since I used his quote)

With stupid and numerous rules, expect simple and stupid behaviours.

With simple and clear principles, expect complex and intelligent behaviours.

Stability and compliance do not prepare you for unpredictable crisis and emergencies. This is what defines complexity … unpredictability.

James Gleick mentions 3 profound theories from the XX century

  • Relativity redefined the notion and time and space
  • Quantum physics redefined the notion of specific measurement
  • And Chaos theory redefined the notions and concept of determinism and predictability

We live in an era where profound changes are affecting the way we live, work and interact with our peers. 

Our organizations, however, are still entrenched in the base “Scientific principles of management “ elaborated and implemented by F.W. Taylor in 1911. Not much has evolved since then. 

Just compare this 1920 org chart to yours and wonder in horror !

old org chart

The market stability of the first half of the 20th century helped organization put in place stable and efficient structure to offer ever more product to our societies hungry for more products to improve the quality of life. And it worked!

But anyone with a brain should have rapidly realized that perpetual growth does not make sense. IT does not make sense for a bacterial colony, a population of salmon or deers a city or a company. Or planet simply does not have a perpetual growth system in place. We live on a very limited and closed system.

Everything is in equilibrium and adapts constantly. And rapidly to the changing environment

Everything except the human-capitalist mind that cannot accept that perpetual and exponential growth does not make any sense. Unfortunately, our organizations are still ruled with the 20th century expansionist mindset and our leaders have been generally ( there are notable and amazing exceptions!) very slow to adapt their management style to the new reality.

This is where wobbling is important.

What is causing the wobbling in your organization?

What are the subtle and weak signals around you?

Are you, your management team and the corporate hierarchy trying to shut those signals up for the sake of growth and stability?

By doing so you are standing on a well-balanced chair as in the first part of the experiment described here.


And by doing so, the fall that inevitably occurs in the future will be more painful than expected.

By welcoming the instability, by getting ready for it, by jump-jump-starting your complexity muscles, the fall will be less pronounced and the re-bounce faster.

However … too much wobbling will tire your complexity muscles. 

There is also a dire need for rest.

But then, there are a few things you can do every day and never get tired…

Stretch your complexity muscles

Stretch your uncertainty muscles

Stretch you ambiguity muscles

Do these simple things every day to prepare your mind, your heart and your guts for a complex environment.

  • Change your route to work and back home…
  • Find a new parking spot at work
  • Try eating with your other hand
  • Bush your teeth with the other hand too
  • Eat your dessert first
  • Try a new item at your favourite restaurant
  • Or even better, Trust the waitress and let her choose your meal (do not forget to mention your allergies though because allergens do not really care about your complexity challenge)
  • try reading s book backward…or better yet, upside down…
  • Let your new employee run your weekly meeting
  • Stop requiring formal monthly meeting and simple ask them to report verbally 
  • Ask your employees to do YOUR performance review, do not read their document, send them to your boss and request a long lunch with her!
  • Do not attend a few recurrent meetings (let your colleague know in advance, though … respect is still a very important value) and read the minutes carefully … your presence might not have been THAT essential.
  • Invite employees from other department to your weekly staff meeting
  • Get invited to other departments’ meetings…
  • Open a chair for guest at the executive meeting…anybody could join and ask a question.

What else could you try to increase your discomfort level? Just enough so that you will still be able to breathe…

Remember these professional baseball player using 3 baseball bats before their turn at the diamond ? Why do you think they stretch their muscle ? To make it easy when the time comes to hit the ball.

Remember, they are PROFESSIONALS…they must know something.

Just do something to get ready when the real challenge arrives, whenever you most do not expect it!

I am curious … what will you, did you try?
Pleeeease write a comment and share your experience.

Or even better, come with us at one of the Think tanks !


Photo by Camille / Kmile on Unsplashù


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