Designing a Modern System for Robustness
System and Behavior Symbiosis
These principles in the table below are structural. They deal with the scaffold of the system. Expect to unwind, unlearn, untangle, and un-knot deep grooves of unconscious, habituated tasking, doing, acting, and “managing.” Simultaneously, expect to design, adopt and apply wholly new structures, habits, and pattern making to your system.
These next principles below are behavioral. They deal with the energetics of the system. Expect to apply new intelligences, bring up and out your real personhood, find your voice, stand in your power, engage the multidimensionality of your underutilised brains, and draw on what feels right even over what has always been done. Equally expect to feel disoriented, cautious or afraid. Being embodied is a new fashion, less tried and true — yet.
Anticipate and Navigate Surprise and Uncertainty
Expect the unpredictable rather than be surprised by it
Become a sensor/detective for patterns of change
Scan for threats and opportunities and exploit them
Pay hawkish attention to the periphery. What are the developments? How do they touch you
What are potential consequences?
Imagine plausible outcomes (and test them) without being in the business of guesswork
Harness ambiguity as a force for change rather than as a threat
Create Feedback Loops and Adaptive Mechanisms
Build a lean operating rhythm of test and learn. Iterate and adapt as you go.
Share learnings / feedback out, up, and across the organization for systemic learning, questioning, and imagining
Go to the factory floor (Gemba); get close to the real work
Translate signals into action e.g. resources, dynamic project teams with permission to explore, time allotment
Foster Trust and Reciprocity
Act in ways that benefit other participants in the system
Establish mechanisms that ensure reciprocity
Ensure presence and support by leadership
Add value (rather than extract it) to other stakeholders in the ecosystem
Give rather than take
Take responsibility for yourself; own your stuff
And lastly, following are several confrontations to sit with for reimagining how to hold context and space, meaningfully and purposefully in role, leading teams, delivering on workflow and outcomes. The long and the short of it is, get exceptionally good at working with the unseen, unexpected, and unsaid — to build and hold the reins of a robustly emerging system.
Break the Habit of Being Your Conditioned Leader Self
Be realistic about what you can predict and control
Be optimistic about what you can shape collaboratively
Be honest about what is beyond the reach of any single individual’s (e.g. leader) influence
Identify, monitor, and address complexity beyond what you own or control - outside your doors
Contribute positively and create value in the broader system (stakeholders, customers, partners) to justify participation
Foster freedom, autonomy, collaboration, and initiative at the local level
Shape the context of the local level versus controlling what is happening
Question top-down control by truly evaluating returns, feedback, and motivation
Adapted originally from an article called The Biology of Corporate Survival, HB