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Handling Complexity in Decision-Making: Avoiding The Bike Rack Effect in Meetings

Handling Complexity in Decision-Making:  Avoiding The Bike Rack Effect in Meetings | Change Leadership Watch | Scoop.it

Why would a $100M power plant zoning approval take 3 minutes and a request to build a $10,000 bike rack for city sidewalks take hours?


It's easy to be swept up in the trivial and fun stuff, starving the big issues for the time and consideration they merit.  Cyril Northcote Parkinson, a British historian and operations researcher, penned this extreme example of decision-making in meetings in his book Parkinson's Law. Paraphrasing the Wikipedia entry, the powerplant is so expensive, the sums of money are hard to frame.

 

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Deb Nystrom, REVELN's insight:

This is a post useful for anyone connected to public sector meetings, or any meeting with complex topics.  I've posted this in change leadership watch for the reasons of asking you, the reader the question, have you ever helped a decision making body avoid the The Abilene Paradox, a classic management film about avoiding mismanaged agreement?

This post also illustrates the power of Parkinson's Law where board members lazily skip over the seemingly impenetrable problem in the meeting, deferring to the team managing the project. There will be implications for years of this city council meeting's decisions, and yet it is decided in three minutes.  It's astounding, assuming we haven't been excluded from a long list of previous meeting discussions.   ~ D

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Ivon Prefontaine's curator insight, March 24, 11:58 PM

Most humans have no comprehension of $100 million, but understand $10, 000.

Tom Russell's curator insight, March 27, 7:00 AM

I'm sure we can all identify with this scenario. It reminds me of a school football game when everybody is running after the ball regardless of their agreed position on the pitch. Clearly where there is passion there is engagement, so focussing on, and agreeing, clear outcomes is a key starting point if one is going to avoid everyone being kicked in the shins.

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Leadership Challenges: Embrace paradoxes to move forward

Leadership Challenges: Embrace paradoxes to move forward | Change Leadership Watch | Scoop.it

"This provocative post highlights current business paradoxes challenging leaders:  change or remain stable, complexity versus simplicity, growth and sustainability and more."


After seeing evidence of our increasingly VUCA world, one that is growing in its Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous characteristics, this useful list of paradoxes resonates.  Does it resonate to your experience?

 

___________________________

  

Leaders must find ways to deal with this complexity and embrace and manage it to achieve simplicity.

___________________________

   


Excerpted:

  

Paradox 1: growth versus sustainability

Growth as it is currently defined tends to result in an unquestioned and unchecked consumption of resources. Sustainability considerations are generally considered to put a major strain on growth ambitions.


The way forward is innovation, but another paradox present itself:

  

Paradox 2: innovating versus operating

Innovation is increasingly about service, process, business model and social innovation.

However, focusing on innovation does not mean ignoring operations. The trick is that what allows operations to thrive can seriously get in the way of innovation and vice versa.

  

Paradox 3:  change versus continuity

If you try to innovate too many things at once you will end up with chaos, if you do not change at all your organisation will decline. What is the right balance?

  

Paradox 4: collaboration versus competition

Business is inherently competitive yet today, collaboration is common, with most companies having collaborated with their suppliers and their customers. Leading companies are promoting collaboration through crowdsourcing or with competitors.

  

Paradox 5: complexity versus simplicity

Demands on leaders result in increasing levels of complexity, arising from the number of possible, unpredictable interactions between collaborate, compete; change, remain stable; innovation or operational excellence; growth or sustainability. Leaders must find ways to deal with this complexity and embrace and manage it to achieve simplicity.

  

Paradox 6: Heart versus mind

Decisions need to be made in the face of incomplete analysis, unpredictable outcomes and changing circumstances. The foundations for analysis and factual arguments differ from emotional and visionary engagement; people who excel at one are not necessarily particularly good at the other and yet both are needed.

  

Read the full article by Dr Bettina von Stamm here.

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Cautionary Change Leader Tales: Seven Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful Executives | Forbes

Cautionary Change Leader Tales:  Seven Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful Executives | Forbes | Change Leadership Watch | Scoop.it

Yes, there's room for change leaders to "spot these behaviors and  stamp them out from your own"  and your team's repertoire.


These traits can be found in the leaders of current failures like Research In Motion - Blackberry makers, (RIMM.)


They are also cautionary tales for currently unbeatable firms like Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG), and Amazon.com (AMZN).


Consider the change implications and hubris of these traits:


Habit # 1: They see themselves and their companies as dominating their environment    


(DN:  Can any one leader dominate anything these days?  Rugged individualism is dead.)



Habit #3: They think they have all the answers  (DN:  Again, individualism is dead.)


  • CEO Wolfgang Schmitt of Rubbermaid was fond of demonstrating his ability to sort out difficult issues in a flash. In one discussion about a particularly complex acquisition, Wolf, without hearing different points of view, just said, ‘Well, this is what we are going to do.’”
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  • Leaders who need to have all the answers shut out other points of view. When your company or organization is run by someone like this,  hope the answers he comes up with are ...the right ones.

  • For Rubbermaid they weren’t. The company went from being Fortune’s most admired company in America in1993 to being acquired by the conglomerate Newell a few years later.

Habit #4: They ruthlessly eliminate anyone who isn’t completely behind them  (DN:  Resistance is a resource.  So, oh oh.)


  • It’s both unnecessary and destructive.
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  • By eliminating all dissenting and contrasting viewpoints, destructive CEOs cut themselves off from their best chance of seeing and correcting problems as they arise. Sometimes CEOs who seek to stifle dissent only drive it underground. Once this happens, the entire organization falters.
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Skipped a step? Judge orders Hostess to mediate with union, postponing shutdown

Skipped a step?  Judge orders Hostess to mediate with union, postponing shutdown | Change Leadership Watch | Scoop.it

"Twinkies won't die that easily after all."   How about a little mediation, folks?


Goes with my other ScoopIt Change Leadership Watch post today on taking different perspectives on fault-finding.  It's not all about the unions, it would seem, according to Forbes.


_____________________________

   

The bankruptcy judge hearing the case says that the parties haven't gone through the critical step of mediation.

_____________________________


Excerpted:


The news came Monday after Hostess moved to liquidate and sell off its assets in bankruptcy court citing a crippling strike last week.
    
The bankruptcy judge hearing the case says that the parties haven't gone through the critical step of mediation.


====


DN:  This reminds me a bit of the Mel Brooks movie, "Springtime for Hitler," that had investors banking on failure, and then it didn't happen.  Made for quite the show.

With 18K jobs affected, the question is who is steering the ships for what preferred end?

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It's got to be about Why, not How: How Great Leaders Inspire Action, Simon Sinek

"Why FIRST:  Communication and the Golden Circle:  Why, How, What?  Inspire where others do not.  Profit is JUST a result NOT a reason for existing."


Simon's examples include Apple (why so innovative?), Martin Luther King (lead major change, Civil Rights movement), and the Wright brothers (controlled powered manned flight that others did not achieve, tho' were working on.)


_________________________

   

"The goal is to do business with people who believe what YOU believe." ~ Simon Sinek

_________________________

   


Apple:  NOT, What we do, great computers.  Want to buy one?

RATHER:  Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo, we believe thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is making products that are beautifully designed, simple to use & user friendly.  We happen to make computers.  Want to buy one?


Counterpoint Tivo, which (until a recent court victory that tripled its stock price) appeared to be struggling.  

   

http://www.ted.com Simon Sinek presents a simple but powerful model for how leaders inspire action, starting with a golden circle and the question "Why?" 


Source here.


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Robin Martin's comment, May 11, 2013 12:39 PM
Thanks Deb!
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How Having & Sharing a Vision For Your Company can Accomplish the Miraculous

How Having & Sharing a Vision For Your Company can Accomplish the Miraculous | Change Leadership Watch | Scoop.it

Your vision should be a reach AND realistic => based on  an ability to develop key distinctive competencies.


What are examples of a clear vision?

Ewing Kauffman, at his founding of the Kansas City Royals baseball team in 1969, articulated a vision of competing in a World Series within 5 years. While this sounded highly improbable at the time, it caused the entire organization to measure every action it took against the aspiration to be the best! Kauffman built a superb organization and, while there wasn’t a World series within 5 years, the Royals did get to the World Series within 10 years.


The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis was started in 1984 with a vision to “cure spinal cord injury.” This was an audacious goal given the state of spinal cord research at that time. Twenty seven years later, the Miami Project has raised over $300 million for research and has pioneered critical breakthroughs in treating spinal cord injury -  unthinkable at its founding

 

In addition to its motivational  value, a clear vision serves as a powerful prism through which you judge every action you take.  It helps you set key priorities.  Does the action in question bring you closer to achieving your vision?

 

For example, if you want to be the best business office products retailer in your city, do you spend sufficient time out speaking with and understanding the office products needs of your potential business customers? A vision  forces you to ask these questions and serves as  a powerful organizing statement for your efforts.

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