Last week I had the honor and fun of keynoting at Defrag. It was my first Defrag conference and I was not entirely sure what to expect aside from knowing it was a forum for deeper thinking about enterprise technologies. I was pleasantly surprised that both presenters and attendees were talking about big ideas and wanted to explore not the next step forward but the next leap forward. I also found people ready and willing to challenge ideas assertively – something that is not always acceptable in other milieus but something I really enjoy and find necessary to challenge my own thinking.
My presentation covered some of the core concepts that underpin my thinking about how the world is changing and why a community management approach is growing in urgency within our organizations. The distilled version it is that the world is becoming more complex, which has some big implications:
- Complexity must be managed simply (complexity managed with complexity is a disaster)
- There are few verifiably ‘right’ answers in complex environments (possibly why traditional ROI models are breaking down) and being able to make decisions when faced with ambiguity is critical
- Trying to ‘control’ things at best doesn’t work and at worst deceives people from seeing reality, creating unnecessary risk
The more involved story is that when I was an analyst at IDC I had the opportunity to learn system dynamics modeling using a tool called Vensim. It radically shifted how I thought of markets and business dynamics and opened up a world of possibility in terms of forecasting behaviors, which when compiled, generated aggregate market behavior. From there I started reading more about complex systems. This presentation was my attempt to distill the core tenants of complex adaptive systems and then propose how I believe it changes how we need to think about business strategy, management and measurement.
TheCR Network is a membership network that provides strategic, tactical and professional development programming for community and social business leaders. The network enables members to connect and form lasting relationships with experts and peers as well as get access to vetted content.