“The speed and interdependence of the modern environment create complexity. Coupling shared consciousness and empowered execution creates an adaptable organization able to react to complex problems.” -via Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement For A Complex World
We live in a time when we are truly seeing the importance of greater organizational adaptability and overall agility to not only parallel pace the turbulent pace of change, but to hold onto some semblance of relevance in a world that is bent on discontinuity and the speed of next.
The greatest risk in our modern world is often our inability or unwillingness to take a risk. It is this type of VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) environment that not only necessitates, but requires an enhanced ability to work more effectively in team settings, collaborate at a much higher and efficient level, as wells as create and utilize more expansive internal and external networks to leverage greater learning and idea flow throughout the organization, at all levels.
Especially if the concept of continuous improvement is our focus…
We can no longer entrench ourselves in the successes of the past, mire ourselves in outdated strategies, practices, processes and structures, or allow the overwhelming pace and speed of change to stagnate us in decision paralysis, especially if we are to remain relevant to the exponential shifts that are occurring across the entirety of our societal ecosystem.
The disruptions we are witnessing, driven by this technological transformation, are emerging not as events…but rather, as daily occurrences.
As is shared in Team of Teams, “An organization should empower its people, but only after it has done the heavy lifting of creating shared consciousness.” Unfortunately, too many organizations err too far on one side or the other: they either provide autonomy without creating the capacity to fully utilize that autonomy, or they build up individual and organizational capacity and fail to provide the autonomy or empower their people effectively. Both of which end in frustration at all levels of the organization, doing little to enhance individual or organizational adaptability or agility.
Today’s leaders need to look to ways to not only engage the collective intelligence that resides in an organization, but amplify that “shared consciousness” towards greater collective capacity in an environment that empowers people to make better decisions as they adapt to the complex conditions they face on a daily basis.
Thomas Seeley, Professor at Cornell University, provides a five ways (via Wired and HBR) we can tap into this “hive mind” for enhancing greater collective intelligence in our teams and organizations:
- Create groups with mutual respect, shared interests and foster mutual respect.
- Minimize the leaders influence on group thinking.
- Seek and explore diverse solutions to the problem, to maximize the group’s likelihood of uncovering an excellent option.
- Aggregate the group’s knowledge through frank debate.
- Use quorum responses for speed, cohesion, and accuracy, balancing interdependence and independence.
Our ability to tap more effectively into the knowledge and ideas that exist within our teams, groups and networks will allow us to create deeper and more expansive collective capacity that will enhance our ability to not only amplify this organizational idea flow, but empower our people to adapt to this new knowledge with the autonomy to implement and utilize ideas that improve an organization’s ability to work towards and emerge more effectively as a culture of continuous improvement.