Creating Space For Emergent Innovation

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“Adaptive space is the network and organizational context that allows people, ideas, information, and resources to flow across the organization and spur successful emergent innovation.  It is not a physical space but instead is any environment — that creates an opportunity for ideas generated in entrepreneurial pockets of an organization to flow into its operational system.”  -Arena, Cross, Sims, Uhl-Bien via MITSloan Management Review How to Catalyze Innovation in your Organization

We often talk about the work of innovation being determined in the mindset, while approaching it in a much more physical than cognitive manner.  From strategic war rooms, to innovation and fab labs, incubators, accelerators, makerspaces, learning commons, as well as open, collaborative and co-working spaces.  And while these environments enhance our creative and innovative thinking, we still have to understand that the creation of the physical environment, without the deepening of the mindset, does little to invoke and initiate new thinking, new ideas, new systems and new actions that lead to the emergence of the truly novel and new for our individuals and organizations.

Or as Arena, Cross, Sims and Uhl-Bien share, “Emergent innovation occurs when entrepreneurial individuals within an organization incubate and advance new ideas for addressing needs and dynamically changing conditions.”

Which is our imperative as the work of professionals and the progress of our profession, to not only engage in and amplify what is considered as “best” practices, but to also create new knowledge, new ideas and new thinking that leads to our engagement of the “next” practices that lead us forward into the future.

It is in the informal, formal and intentional creation of these adaptive spaces that we provide the room for these new ideas and thinking to take form, to percolate and incubate in and across our teams and organizations.  In much the same way that Kotter’s work in Accelerate initiates the idea of a Dual-Operating System to create a parallel space and room for innovation to be engaged and infused into more static and hierarchical organizations and systems.

Or as Kotter shares, “Revolutionary innovation comes about when information from a variety a places that normally don’t collide do collide and a light bulb goes off.”  It is within this parallel space of hierarchy and innovation that an organization can determine the “Big Opportunity” that stands before them.

Or as Arena, Cross, Sims and Uhl-Bien put forth, “Adaptive space within organizations is fluid and can shift based on need.  Companies create adaptive space through environments that open up information flows and enrich idea discovery, development, and amplification.”

The creation of this adaptive space allows for an environment where new thinking and ideas have room to germinate, percolate and incubate.  But it does not stop there, for the diffusion and spread of these new and novel ideas requires diffusion of this creativity and innovation across and even beyond the organization.  For which necessitates these adaptive spaces serving as hubs and networks for continuous idea flows and idea pipelines, as well as the arena for intentional idea collision and remixes.  It is through these hubs and internal and external networks that the transmission and circulation of this innovative thinking and ideas are organizationally initiated and continuously diffused.  Allowing for greater awareness, promotion and availability for individual and organizational adoption.

Arena, Cross, Sims and Uhl-Bien add, “Adaptive space is needed to connect these divided channels and allow ideas to advance from the entrepreneurial (informal) to the operational (formal) system. Such adaptive space allows for networked interactions to foster the creation of ideas, innovation, and learning.”

It is within these spaces and the cross-pollinating of ideas across these networks that innovation begins to infuse itself into the normal organizational operating system and or systems.    Or as the Harvard Business Review shares in regards to Kotter’s idea of the Dual-Operating System“The new operating system continually assesses the business, the industry, and the organization, and reacts with greater agility, speed, and creativity than the existing one.  It complements rather than overburdens the traditional hierarchy, thus freeing the latter to do what it’s optimized to do.  It actually makes enterprises easier to run and accelerates strategic change.  This is not an “either or” idea. It’s “both and.” I’m proposing two systems that operate in concert.”

It is in creation of this adaptive space and systems that room for “AND” to not only occur, but to provide the organizational agility and nimbleness to move and capitalize on the innovative thinking and ideas that are growing and emerging in these parallel environments.  Today’s effective and healthy organizations are not only intentional in their design of these cognitive, as well as physical spaces, but allow room for what emerges within these spaces and processes to germinate, incubate, thrive and expand throughout these informal and formal networks so that innovation can actually diffuse effectively across the organizational landscape.

Building awareness of these spaces, these dual-operating systems and networks allows us to create a better vantage point to determine what’s emerging internally and external of the organization to better prepare the organization in the present for the future.

Without these spaces and room for new thinking and ideas, very few organizations truly tap into the full capability of their people, leaving much of their adaptive capacity and ability to continuously improve both individually and organizationally unrealized.

So, the challenge remains in how to increase organizational learning through these spaces or parallel systems and networks in ways that increase the idea pipeline and flows, both internally and externally for not only greater innovative capacity, but the ability to diffuse and cascade that mindset at all levels of the organization for a better future.

“The value of networks and adaptive space is that they enable influential people to tell stories about an innovation they are championing in ways that echo across the network. As these stories spread, others are attracted to engage, and the network of those engaged begins to include critical stakeholders, therefore enhancing the likelihood of organizational support for the innovation.”  -Arena, Cross, Sims, Uhl-Bien via MITSloan Management Review How to Catalyze Innovation in your Organization

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Creating Organizational Relevance

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“It is the very uncertainty, unpredictability, and uncontrollability of organizational processes that signal the adaptive capability of complex systems; their capacity for the emergence of novel practices, processes, and routines is at the heart of an ecology of innovation.”  -Goldstein, Hazy, Lichtenstein Complexity and the Nexus of Leadership: Leveraging Nonlinear Science to Create Ecologies of Innovation

Learning lies at the very heart of any complex, adaptive and innovative system.  Especially those organizational systems that are able to continually grow and evolve.  And while we can let that statement linger, it is not enough.  It requires more, much more.

It requires…

A diversity of learning

Curation and creation of new knowledge

Environments of experimentation where novel and innovative ideas and thinking can emerge

Spaces where ideas can collide to create new thinking and ideas

Engaging learning networks and idea flows, both internally and externally

Ongoing reflection of mental models, assumptions and cognitive biases

Ability to adapt and change in response to the ongoing emergence of the new

Unfortunately, in the midst of today’s organizational complexity and chaos that encompasses today’s accelerated and turbulent change cycles, leaders look to insulate and simplify, instead of embracing the opportunity and/or opportunities that begins to emerge from this complexity and chaos.

When change is needed most for an organization, it is often the status quo and stasis that is sought out and exemplified (both consciously and unconsciously).

In the face of change, whether incremental and/or disruptive, the comfort of the known is often held up as a model to stave off the fear of the unknown, even when the current model is proving to be ineffective.  There is safety in the known.  Unless the emergence of the novel and new can provide a strong promise of future success it is squeezed out in favor of the familiar and known.

Which is why the above “requirements” are necessary for any organization to be able to continually adapt and maintain innovative ecologies, environments, and ecosystems.  

Or as the old adage puts forth, “you don’t know what you don’t know” remains true for our organizations, as well as individuals.  For much of what happens in an organization is based on a “we’ve always done it this way” approach to working that has seldom been considered or questioned.  Which then begets the question, are the individuals and the organization itself on a journey to continually seek out “what it doesn’t know?”  Or is it happy to remain in the comfort of the known, often at its own peril and relevance.

For which Goldstein, Hazy, Lichtenstein add, “Since ecologies are driven by all of the exchanges, interchanges, interactions, and connectivities existing between its subsystems, whatever is essential takes place at these interfaces.”

Which reminds us that if individuals and organizations are not searching out and creating new learning and knowledge, engaged in internal and external learning flows and networks, seeking out and allowing for experimentation and the emergence of the novel and new, and constantly reflecting on their mental models as they collide with a diversity of learning and ideas, those “exchanges, interchanges, interactions, and connectivities” will do little to move individuals and organizations beyond and amplification of what is already known.

Or as Goldstein, Hazy, Lichtenstein share, “At the core of ecosystems are patterns of interactions – the vital exchanges – that connect all the subsystems together.”  For which they continue, “Because a complex system is composed of interdependent, interacting subsystems, information about the functioning of the system is distributed throughout the networks of connection.  This nexus of relations is the source of influence, the driver of innovation, and the regulator of change.”

Which reminds us that all individuals and organizations have their own borders, their own space where the known and the unknown intersect.

It is at this intersection, that the future relevance of our organizations is often determined and discovered.

 

Beyond Reverse Engineering: In Consideration Of Continuous Improvement (Part 3)

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“But why are you so interested in the solutions we develop for our specific problems?  Why do you never study how we go about developing those solutions?  Since the future lies beyond what we can see, the solutions we employ today may not continue to be effective.  The competitive advantage of an organization lies not so much in the solutions themselves – but in the ability of the organization to understand conditions and create fitting, smart solutions.”  -Mike Rother Toyota Kata: Managing People for Improvement, Adaptiveness, and Superior Results

Years and years of leadership and organizational indoctrination has done very little to prepare today’s leaders and organizations for a future world that has shifted and a past world that no longer exists.  Leadership and organizational frameworks and structures that have often touted…

Answers over Questions

Control over Autonomy

Technical over Adaptive

Structure over Process

Bureaucracy over Agility

Standardization over Differentiation

Compliance over Creativity

Implementation over Innovation

Short-term over Long-term

Reform over Transform

In a world that has doggedly determined to accelerate the pace of change, linear mindsets and linear ways of thinking are often lulling leaders and their organizations into stasis and status quo ways of operating and responding to this turbulent manner of change.

Instead of responding with an “abundance” mentality of determining the opportunity that exists and arises from this chaos, most leaders and organizations rather choose to apply a “scarcity” mindset and look more towards finding ways to safely insulate themselves from the volatility that surrounds them and their organization.

In many instances, they choose to recoil and then reform…rather than adapt and move to transform.

So, rather than moving towards gaining the ability to adapt and transform, many of our leaders and organizations choose instead to try and “reverse engineer” their way forward.  For which Mike Rother shares as the process of “taking an object apart to see how it works in order to replicate it.”  

Which has been a continual problem plaguing our educational organizations for a plethora of years.  This idea that we can take something apart, see how it works, and then easily replicate it in our own organization.  Just like putting a new overhead on the projector.  Easy.  Right?

Only it’s not right and it’s not working…

Or as Mike Rother adds in Toyota Kata, “We have been trying to copy the wrong things.”

Rother provides us with 3 reasons in Toyota Kata as to why “reverse engineering” isn’t working:

  1. Critical Aspects Are Not Visible: Which means that you can’t employ the things you see without being able to understand the things that you can’t see.  The underlying  processes that led to the visible changes.  Or as Rother purports, “We have been trying to add practices and principles on top of our existing management thinking and practice without adjusting that thinking and practice.”  For which he adds, “techniques will not work properly, will not generate continuous improvement and adaptation, without the underlying logic, which lies beyond our view.”  Too often we try and change behaviors without attending to the thinking and mindset that enables those behaviors.  Without attending to the mindset, this approach to change will always be veneer at best.
  2. Reverse Engineering Does Not Make An Organization Adaptive and Continuously Improving: Organizations have this tendency to jump right to solutions without determining if they are even solving the right problem.  And if they are solving the right problem, are they really gathering a divergence and diversity of thinking towards solving that problem.  Too often, as we look towards this “reverse engineering” way of working, we try to save time by moving right to implementing solutions that worked well for other leaders or organizations, without considering the context, time and a culture in which those solutions were created…and then seem perplexed when they fall flat in our own organizations.  As Mike Rother adds, “Focusing on solutions does not make an organization adaptive.”  Instead of focusing on solutions, look to create the environment and processes that lead to the thinking and doing that provides the ability and capacity of the organization to continuously improve and adapt.
  3. Trying To Reverse Engineer Puts Us In An Implementing Mode: Focusing on solutions over engaging better problem-solving processes leads to an organization, “having an implementation orientation” which “actually impedes our organization’s progress and the development of people’s capabilities.”  Which takes us back to linear mindsets and linear thinking, which is based in trying to create certainty, which is very much in alliance with an organization being in implementing mode.  Whereas, a problem-solving orientation allows leaders and organizations to become much more comfortable with the uncertainty that is required of being more adaptive and focused on continuous improvement.  If we are going to move from where we are to where we want to be, it will require taking a path that is often filled with uncertainty and unknowns.  Or as Rother shares, “If we believe the way ahead is set and clear, then we tend to blindly carry out a preconceived implementation plan rather than being sensitive to, learning from, and dealing adequately with what arises along the way.  As a result, we do not reach the desired destination at all, despite our best intentions.”

We fail to adapt and continuously improve as leaders and organizations when we try to “reverse engineer” our way forward into a very uncertain and unknown future.  We have to understand that there is a large chasm of this uncertainty and unknown that lies between where an organization is and where they eventually want to be…and inability to deal effectively with that chasm of uncertainty and unknown that stands before us will impede progress towards that preferred future that stands waiting beyond.

“If someone claims certainty about the steps that will be implemented to reach a desired destination, that should be a red flag to us.  Uncertainty is normal – the path cannot be accurately predicted – and so how we deal with that is of paramount importance, and where we can derive our certainty and confidence.” -Mike Rother Toyota Kata: Managing People for Improvement, Adaptiveness, and Superior Results

Facilitating Transformation

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“The more complex and unfamiliar the challenge we’re facing, the more important it becomes to test and adjust the underlying ladders of inference, beliefs, and filters we’re using to tackle it.”  -Craig Weber Conversational Capacity: The Secret To Building Successful Teams That Perform When The Pressure is On

No matter how many great ideas, strategies and levers that we can string together towards organizational transformation, if leaders are unable to facilitate their teams through and towards the conversations, processes, structures, and environments that actually lead to that transformation…not much has or will change.

Which means that today’s leaders have to be willing to push their teams into much more uncertain and uncomfortable terrain, where our mental models, maps and bias’ are placed on reflective display.  Where diversity of thinking and candor are natural and positive elements of the teams they engage and lead.

As Craig Weber adds, “The capacity to transform conflicting perspectives into learning gives a team an additional advantage that is invaluable in challenging situations where our old ways of thinking no longer fit the bill.  People with different perspectives are able to generate not just more learning, but a deeper, more powerful kind of learning.  They’re more agile, astute, and adaptive because they can deliberately double-loop learn.”

However, before we can get to what double-loop learning is, we should begin with defining both single- and double- loop learning.

According to Google,

Single-loop learning seems to be present when goals, values frameworks and, to a significant extent, strategies are taken for granted.

Whereas,

Double-loop learning occurs when error is detected and corrected in ways that involve the modification of an organization’s underlying norms, policies and objectives.

To add to that definition, Craig Weber shares, “Whenever there’s a gap between the consequences we intend and the results we achieve, learning is required.  There are two very different kinds of learning we can employ.  When things don’t work out as expected, the easy path is to simply circle back and adjust our actions (our strategy, behavior, or plan).  This is called single-loop learning.”

Which means that single-loop learning is best suited to the routine, technical problems that are stretched across our organizational landscape.  The issue with single-loop learning is that today’s leaders are seeing a big shift…from a decrease in the technical, routine problems to a heightening and growth of the adaptive challenges that are coming at them and their organizations in today’s turbulent and changing world.

To make matters worse, not only are teams and organizations struggling to engage and embrace more double-loop learning in their processes, they actually continue to engage single-loop learning as their go to response to these growing adaptive challenges they are now facing.  Which is a concern, especially in a time when organizational transformation is often vital for the future and the mere survival and relevance of many, if not most organizations.

Or as Weber adds, “In adaptive circumstances, where the problem is poorly defined, no proven solution exists, and our old habits of thought no longer fit the predicament we’re facing, single-loop learning is grossly inadequate.”

In the turbulent times we are now living in, one of accelerated change that is unleashing a densely growing number of adaptive challenges, double-loop learning will be vital to our ability to question our assumptions, reflect upon our mental maps and models, as well as test our often unconscious confirmation bias’.  Double-loop learning serves as a lens for ongoing review of, rather than blind acceptance of the assumptions of what we determine to be true.

Which means today’s leaders have to facilitate the spaces and environments where positive conflict and candor can be incorporated into engaging a variety and diversity of thinking and ideas that lead to greater capacity, especially in response to the adaptive challenges that now face our teams and organizations.

As Weber purports, “Holding our ideas, views, and perspectives more like hypotheses that need to be tested – a hallmark of more disciplined mindset – is conducive to double-loop learning.  When we hold a view like a truth it makes it much harder to question it, much less correct it.  But when we treat our thoughts, assumptions, and beliefs as suspect, it makes it easier to adjust or change them when they don’t pass muster.”

Our world has and is changing, often in a rapid and volatile manner.  It is not enough for our behaviors to change in response, so must our thinking and the lens’ that drive that thinking, both individually and organizationally.

“Trapped on the hamster wheel of their outdated thinking, unable to adapt to the novel predicaments they face, a team that can’t deliberately double-loop learn grows increasingly ineffective in a dynamic environment.”  -Craig Weber Conversational Capacity: The Secret To Building Successful Teams That Perform When The Pressure is On

 

Surviving And Thriving In A VUCA World: In Consideration Of Education In The Exponential Age

 

Click the link below for access to the ebook:

Surviving and Thriving in a VUCA World: In Consideration of Education in the Exponential Age (ebook)

Leading In Uncertain Times: The Irrelevance Factor (Part 1)

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“A theory has only the alternative of being wrong or right. A model has a third possibility: it may be right but irrelevant.”  -Manfred Eigen

When you think of the current idea of the organizational model and how we work, be that in education, government, or business, in the historical scheme of things, is a model that hasn’t really been around for that long of a time.

For much of that time, the model has stayed pretty consistent, focusing on sustaining systemic efficiency, command and control leadership, a need for certainty and the avoidance of unnecessary risks, and very often choosing pride of product over support and commitment to people ways of operating.  It is only in more recent times that there has been this push towards more adaptive awareness and deeper focus on effectiveness over efficiency, a more human-centered and less cogs in the machine ways of operating, as well as continually looking to evolve and expand the user experience both internally and externally, and embracing uncertainty and risk-taking that leads to more discovery, experimental learning.

Shifts that have stemmed more from necessity than necessarily from want.  Especially as today’s accelerated, turbulent and often disruptive nature of change and societal shifts have changed expectations and brought forth this need for new ways for the organization and its leadership to operate and exist.

It is no longer enough to just focus on sustaining models efficiency, when  frameworks of effectiveness are now required.

In a world that is much more volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous, our organizations and leaders within must be much more aware of what they are sustaining.  What is considered relevant today, might and most likely will not be relevant tomorrow, and understanding this shift will allow our leaders and organizations to adapt more effectively to a changing world and uncertain future.  It does little to improve our systems and ways of working to be both more efficient and effective, if what we are focused on sustaining and adapting to has become or is becoming irrelevant in a world that is changing exponentially.

And yet, just understanding when our strategies, practices, processes, structures, systems and models have become irrelevant and actually moving to an action or actions that creates the necessary change or needed transformation of those are two very different lifts.  With one being much heavier and more complex than the other.

As Einstein is known for saying, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

Which says two things to me; (1) the deeper the understandings we build around our organizational strategies, practices, processes, structures, systems and models, through ongoing learning and enhanced idea flows, the greater the chance that we make changes to our organization that allow it to be more efficient, more effective and more relevant to our changing world, and (2) you can only truly get to simple through full comprehension of the complexity that we are facing and that which exists and is inherent within each of our organizational ecosystems.

Understandings that eventually determine how adaptable and agile our organizations can and will become in the future.

For example, the digital disruption and/or transformations that we are currently facing serve as a tremendous example of (1) and (2) from above, in showing us just how complex the nature of change can be for us as individuals, leaders and organizations; and yet how important it is we find ways to communicate the need for change and/or changes to retain the relevance of our work in a simple and meaningful manner.

Too often we approach this work in a wrong or right manner, which undervalues the in-between and/or complexity of what we are facing as leaders and organizations.  It is no longer about whether a strategy, practice, process, structure, system or model is wrong or right, but rather is it effective?  And, is it relevant to the world that we are “now” living in?

Not the world that we used to live in…

Too often we try to implement change without taking into account the relevance and/or irrelevance of our current models.  Too often we approach change in an isolated manner, focusing on parts of the system without seeing the whole of the system, often leading to unintended consequences that do more to hinder than improve the overall performance of the organization.

You can’t move towards continuous improvement and effective systems change, if you are not willing to attend to the irrelevance of the current strategies, practices, processes and models that are in place.  That is not to say that progress cannot be made, just understand irrelevant parts can and will slow the process and in the end, weigh down the whole.

As for example, think of it like keeping outdated computers running on a systems network.  The computers still work for the individual user, but their outdated performance becomes a drag, ultimately slowing down the entire network for all users.  It is better for the overall performance of the entire network to remove those outdated computers, even though it may cause some inconvenience for individual users.

And yet, they remain on the network…

Unfortunately, many of our current strategies, practices, processes, structures, systems and models are disconnected from the future we are facing.  Much like the outdated computers, we stubbornly refuse to remove them from the network, knowing that they are slowing and dragging the entire system down.

Awareness of these signals, of the slowing of our organizational networks due to outdated and irrelevant strategies, practices, processes, structures, systems, and models will be paramount to determining the necessity and need for change, and approaching and communicating the complexity of that change in a much more simple, transparent, and human-centered manner, will be vital to the continuous and effective improvement that makes our organizations more robust and relevant for the future.

Which ultimately evolves our organizations from one of sustaining the current, to one of adapting progressively to the future.

 

 

The 3I’s Of Change In The Midst Of Uncertainty: Innovation, Improvement, Implementation

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“The ability to not only endure but to invite, amplify, and exalt uncertainty, then reframe it as fuel is paramount to your ability to succeed as a creator.  Visionary innovation and creativity cannot happen when every variable, every outcome, every permutation is known and has been tested and validated in advance.  You cannot see the world differently if it’s already been seen in every possible way.  You cannot solve a problem better if every solution has already been defined.”  -via Jonathan Fields Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance

The brain thrives on certainty, and in uncertain times, even more so.  And we are definitely entering a time of deep uncertainty.  As Jonathan Fields would add from his work Uncertainty, “Disruption is the new normal.  Now, more than ever, you cannot lock down the future.”

And yet, we do little to intentionally embrace the unknowns that we are facing.  Instead, we do all that we can to provide a deeper sense of certainty.  Instead of looking for the opportunities arising of the current chaos, we recoil to the shell of cover that we hope will insulate us from the growing complexity that surrounds us.  We look for the knowns in the midst of a growing plethora of unknowns.  We tend to search out predictability in the face of doubt.  We heighten the value of quick solutions over the asking of bigger, deeper questions.

Inevitably, we try to predict, when we should learn to forecast.

And more and more we hear the growing chorus’ of…

“We are preparing ___________ for jobs that are yet to exist.”  

Which provides us some sense of semblance, safety and understanding for this unknown and unpredictable future we are currently facing.  A sentiment that makes us feel less anxious and a bit safer as the chaos and complexity of these times pushes in upon us.  It allows us move forward with a “We don’t know what we don’t know” approach and attitude.  Especially as we begin to realize that we are definitely working our way through very volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) times.

While at the same time, the concern with leadership and organizations during these chaotic times is the tendency to become very reactive and reactionary in the midst of upheaval.  Especially when the leadership or organization is neither forward facing or engaged in future thinking.

As Jonathan Fields puts forth in Uncertainty“The more you’re able to tolerate ambiguity and lean into the unknown, the more likely you’ll be to dance with it long enough to come up with better solutions, ideas, and creations.”

But we are struggling to dance with it.  We are avoiding the need to grapple with the variety of unknown forces pushing in on us as leaders and organizations.  For us to eventually get to where we can have better questions, better solutions, better ideas and better creations, we have to create environments for our individuals and organizations that move us past surviving and on to thriving in these VUCA times.

Especially when the necessity of change presents itself in the midst of the chaos and complexity of our current times.

As you consider the chaos, complexity and variety of unknowns that your leadership and organizations are facing, as well as the necessity and need for change that may be required…it may be worth your while to keep your eyes on 3 very formidable I’s during the process: Innovation, Improvement, and Implementation.

  1. Innovation – Begin by truly determining if the change that is being initiated is necessary and needed?  Is it adding value to the user?  Is it worth the effort for those the change is intended to support, as well as those implementing the change, and the organization itself?  Is the change going to be incremental or disruptive to the organization?  Determining and understanding if the change being initiated is relevant and worth sustaining in the future is vital to commitment now and then. As the quote goes, “All improvement requires change, but not all change is an improvement.”          
  2. Improvement – There are two sides to improvement in any change initiative.  First,  how will the change or innovation be an improvement to the user and the organization?  Second, how will progress of the change be monitored and measured?  It is in this process that it must be determined, through questions as opposed to moving too quickly to solutions, “What is the problem we are truly trying to solve?”  For any improvement or change initiative to be effective, determining the real problem that the change is trying to solve must be tethered out first so that it is getting at the root of WHY the change is necessary and needed in the first place.
  3. Implementation – Too often our change initiatives and efforts inordinately spend time focused on “strategic” planning to make sure that the implementation is perfected before moving forward.  Unfortunately, all of the “strategic” planning in the world cannot plan for every issue that occurs upon implementation, from infrastructure to resource concerns.  Instead of wholesale implementation, spend time in short cycles of experimentation that allow for learning.  Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA) or Observe, Orient, Decide, Act (OODA Loop) iteration processes allow for the necessary learning and or pivots needed for any change or innovation initiative to move towards full implementation in a much more effective manner, which benefits the user and the organization.

The 3I’s: Innovation, Improvement, Implementation allows individuals, leaders and organizations to engage a process around change that better supports the needs of those the change initiative or effort is aimed at benefitting.  Processes that allow for greater empathy throughout the process, to make sure that the change or innovation is truly benefitting user.  As well as providing a process and/or space where people can spend time grappling with and embracing the unknowns of our future, over continual amplification of the known.

As Jonathan Fields adds, “If everything is known and certain, that means it’s all been done before.  And creation isn’t about repetition.  Genius always starts with a question, not an answer.  Eliminate the question and you eliminate the possibility of genius.”

And while the brain thrives on certainty, to engage change leaders must create environments that allow people the time, space and processes to effectively grapple with uncertainty, especially in the face of change.  It is the only way that we will truly begin to create a tolerance for ambiguity in a time of VUCA.

“Whether you’re just looking to thrive in uncertain times or deliberately amplifying uncertainty in the name of creating better things and experiences, you can train your mind to not only handle the unease that comes from having to consistently act without having all the answers, but embrace and invite it as a signpost that what you’re doing matters.  Rather than grasping futilely after a sense of certainty that’ll never come, learn how to dance with the unknown.  It’s possible, it just takes a bit of work.  Then look for the opportunity that always goes hand in hand with upheaval.”  -Jonathan Fields Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance