Adapting To The Chaos And Complexity Of Change

“Creative destruction is a central force in any dynamic modern economy.  Firms that want to avoid creative destruction, need to strike a keen balance between exploiting known ideas and exploring the frontiers of new knowledge – between hitting their goals for today and making wise investments for the future.”  -Ertel and Solomon via Moments of Impact

The advent of an exponential, entrepreneurial economy, the influence of the lean startup mentality, and a more innovative, disruptive mindset has shown us that our world has become a much more volatile, shifting and evolving environment than we may have realized.

Unfortunately, we are struggling to effectively prepare our leaders and organizations to handle the chaos and complexity that accompany the rate and intensity of today’s dynamic change forces. As Ertel and Solomon share in their work Moments of Impact, “we still hire and reward people mainly for their ability to exploit known ideas.”

We are ineffectively trying to slow and contain the confusion that these shifts are causing by continuing to apply outdated and outmoded practices that are not matched to the task that towers before and ahead of us. We are still focused on applying sustaining processes to adaptive challenges and continue to find ourselves perplexed by the frustration and lack of progress we fail to create as leaders or organizations.

We continue to allow our leaders and organizations to deal only in the known, while our evolving world continues to serve up more and more unknowns. Or as Ertel and Solomon share, “Organizations that can’t muster the patience to grapple with the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity of our times are ultimately no match for the powerful gales of creative destruction.”

Until we shift our thinking and our mindsets as leaders and organizations, until we can learn to truly define the problems that we are facing, until we can learn to move past applying outdated and outmoded practices to new and evolving problems, we will fail to be effective or influential in pushing through the changes forces that we will continue to face now and in the future.

Whether it is Ertel and Solomon, Kegan and Lahey, or Klein, they have enlightened our leadership and our organizations to the understanding that the types of problems and challenges that we are now and will face in the future are no longer fixed and simply identified. They are much more intricate and complex and require different thinking, deeper understandings and new skill-sets. What they’ve shown us is that we’ve moved from a world of more static technical problems and challenges to one that is evolving more and more towards adaptive problems and challenges.

The world isn’t going back to what it once was before and until we truly wrap our head around what that truly means, then our leadership and our organizations will struggle to be relevant and effective in a world that isn’t waiting for them to get up to speed.


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