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Building Innovation & Competitiveness in a Complex Environment


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Presentation given at the Knowledge Management & People Development conference, Sydney Australia -
26 October 2009

Published in: Business, Technology

Building Innovation & Competitiveness in a Complex Environment

  1. 1. Building Innovation & Competitiveness in a Complex Environment Knowledge Management & People Development conference 26 October 2009 Chris Fletcher Principal Emerging Options Pty Ltd
  2. 2. A Journey into Complexity <ul><li>The “Big end of Town” </li></ul><ul><li>Formal, structured, bureaucratic, non-negotiable, group think </li></ul><ul><li>Technology NOT people </li></ul><ul><li>Where are the people? </li></ul><ul><li>There must be a better way….. </li></ul><ul><li>What about networks COMPLEX ADAPTIVE SYSTEMS </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Conceded that the credit crunch in the banking industry had left him in a state of shocked disbelief, calling the financial crisis a &quot;once-in-a-century credit tsunami,&quot; saying that it is “much broader than anything I could have imagined.” </li></ul><ul><li>Greenspan said his level of shock was based on the fact that the ideology to which he subscribes seemed to be working “exceptionally well” for “40 years or so” until this crisis hit </li></ul><ul><li>The expectations of the Federal Reserve were heavily reliant on highly complicated quantitative models that scanned for known risks and left no room for unprecedented events </li></ul><ul><li>Quant-driven hedge funds and risk managers at major banks took the same approach and very few spotted the emerging crisis </li></ul>Greenspan testimony to Congress, 24 October 2008
  4. 4. History never repeats We are living in a time of fundamental change - where sustainability requires new ways of thinking about systems and communities in near real time The building blocks of the past will not necessarily provide a firm foundation for the future. To survive and thrive in these complex timed requires us to understand the landscape in which we live today - to make sense of the world so we can act Complex times require a toolkit that allows us to: - manage high levels of uncertainty - understand intent in a rapidly changing environment - do more with less - make decisions in inherently complex environments - manage knowledge critical to the organisation - evaluate impact of initiatives - make invisible issues visible
  5. 5. Asymmetry “ There is no difference between a terrorist, a citizen, an employee and a consumer - all represent the problem of asymmetry in which an organisation has to understand multiple interactions and decision from large populations which cannot be predicted or controlled by that organisation.” - Cognitive Edge We need to be able to allow decision makers the ability to “see the world” through the eyes of their customer, their staff, their citizens or even their enemies.
  6. 6. Complex Issues <ul><li>New ways of thinking, challenging traditional tools </li></ul><ul><li>Old Way: Premise of discoverable relationships between cause & effect </li></ul><ul><li>New Way: Emergence of patterns NOT predetermined outcomes </li></ul><ul><li>Complex issues are manageable - new and different ways are required </li></ul>
  7. 7. Cynefin Framework by Cognitive Edge Simple Order Obvious direct relationship between cause and effect Standardised rules, policies, regulations, procedures, legislation Sense -Categorise-Respond BEST PRACTICE Complicated Order – Relationship between cause and effect can be uncovered Groups of experts research, analyse and agree on the best way Sense-Analyse-Respond GOOD PRACTICE Complex Unorder Multiple possibilities and options ‘ Safe fail’ probes and experiments Context dependent Emergent ‘solutions’ Probe-Sense-Respond EMERGENT PRACTICE Chaotic Unorder Issues that are sufficiently critical that there is no time for research, consultation or experiments. Someone must take charge and ACT Act-Sense-Respond NOVEL PRACTICE Disorder: cannot agree
  8. 8. Innovation Starvation Pressure Perspective shift
  9. 9. <ul><li>can only see 0.01% of their visual range in sharp focus at any one time </li></ul><ul><li>will only ever seen approximately 5% of what is available </li></ul><ul><li>see the world as a series of dots based previous experience </li></ul><ul><li>make decisions by scanning thousands of fragmented patterns stored in long term memory and applying the first pattern that matches </li></ul><ul><li>are pattern recognition intelligences NOT information processing devices Source: Theories of Visual Perception - Ian E. Gordon </li></ul>Some facts - Humans...
  10. 10. <ul><li>IF the world as a series of dots joined up on the basis of past experience </li></ul><ul><li>IF Humans are Pattern Recognition beings NOT Information Processing machines...... How do we make sense of the world so we can act? </li></ul><ul><li>Narrative and visual images are ways to convey complex knowledge and ideas - a supplement to traditional ways of learning and interpretation of our world </li></ul><ul><li>Decision making occurs through the blending of fragmented experiences gained through narrative and personal understanding </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple fragments provide the basis for interpretation </li></ul>Everything is Fragmented
  11. 11. A complexity approach <ul><li>Distributed cognition </li></ul><ul><li>Fine granularity objects </li></ul><ul><li>Disintermediation </li></ul>
  12. 12. Organisational Change <ul><li>Major Australian University </li></ul><ul><li>Sustainability Review </li></ul><ul><li>Spend on admin functions highlighted </li></ul><ul><li>Functional areas to provide recommendations for cost savings </li></ul><ul><li>Human Resources advocated a complexity based approach </li></ul>Complexity in Action
  13. 13. Organisational Change Complexity in Action Loose key areas & functions Resources Sacrifice quality for targets Hate to see economic rationalism dominate decisions Excellent state of the art facilities & Friendly community New exciting buildings - student hub innovative Introduction of research supervisor database a huge success Cutting back on what currently do / decreasing services Benchmarking We are the Industry benchmark internationally & nationally Benchmarks Forming an exciting standard in the community Engagement Loyalty of Alumni – 50% increase Manage customer relationships from prospects to alumni Engagement with community Importance of committed alumni – building on uni community Have a great website Improved co-ordination Working social comms network Like to have a working website Centralised search engine optimisation Website top level administration Fees too high Product Innovation LTU to have a distinct difference New courses Academic quality with +ve change in curriculum Failed because of lack of money More revenue generation Lack of resources making everything collapse Clearly defined areas of study – where is the uni heading? Clever communication by Web Increased efficiencies / outputs Efficiency Delivering on projects in the pipeline Optimising resources Long & short term strategies Better use of resources Multi- faceted strategic development - Coordinated Functions - streamlined processes Knowledge sharing Continued duplication of functions Knowledge sharing worse than now Data not available between faculties/ regions Integrated unit Process streamlining No corporate knowledge retention Too much change at same time Organisational culture +ve change Formal induction for staff To be able to say I am proud of my uni Loss of human aspect in service delivery Uncertainty about the future Loss of the good things in the process More positive working culture amongst divisions Less red tape Marketing & recruitment at the board level Professional recognition Professionals recognised for our achievements Lack of decision making power Little value attached to the marketing function we miss the opportunity if we don’t change Integrated information Optimising resources Looking back at missed opportunities Opportunity Common values & goals Coordination right across all related functions Work as one unit Work effectively with faculty reps to achieve uni strategic aims Collaboration within faculties & uni wide regarding promotion material Marketing on same page single minded Common Goals +ve relationship between divisions in uni Improved comms & work culture across uni Staff aren’t supportive of each other LTU continues in silo mentality & goes bust Silo mentality Silo mentality Silo mentality destroyed Frustration Fear – MSR&I are ineffective due to lack of faculty support Don’t upset the horses Frustration LTU “on message” & aggressive in marketplace Staff morale improved No recognition & understanding Cynicism about new ideas being accepted LTU first in people’s minds – all categories of students Community looks at us as innovators & forward thinkers Marketing may not be able to make a difference LTU’s popularity increases +ve brand More engagement with business & professional bodies Community engagement (internal & external) +ve change Leaders Delivering promises Build a sense of pride with students & staff Recognition of achievement by uni More +ve comments / perceptions in LTU community Integrated marketing Exceed student expectations More internal marketing All marketing not just promotion Innovative marketing – we’re clever Increase in students Marketing LTU top of mind Great research stories to tell Marketing across all areas of the organisation LTU “on message” & aggressive in marketplace Mkt leader in local / international student recruitment Local & international reputation Cynicism about new ideas being accepted New ways to design courses Education products that are market driven More marketing influence in products & promotion Are approachable Reputation of brand Word of Mouth marketing from alumni Credibility of degree increase Increase domestic course conversion Targets Increase VTAC market share Market Service Leader Increase student no’s Increase No. of all students Meeting targets Be model in turning around an institution Cultural changes across uni Staff morale Worry we will lose feeling of community amongst staff Futile process / morale hasn’t changed Laughing stock of universities To be a market leader in uni sector LTU to be known for Strong courses Internationally 8000+ target 3 yrs Missed the Boat on potential Research group & increase research profile Reputation Move up the competitive ladder LTU being more competitive Ranked in top 3 unis in Victoria Reduced budget means courses suffer Brand established & recognised by all Redundancies leave remaining staff feeling burned No morale change amongst staff No clear direction for staff Build profile & credibiity Take over Swinburne & Ballarat Budget Cutbacks Regions (vs central) Coherent & supportive regional marketing strategy Centralisation creating disenpowerment Reverse perceived lack of decision making in regions Internal comms Human aspect Attention lost No ego please! Integrated marketing Cohesive Integrated relationships Integrated marketing across all channels Integration Economic rationalisation Developing long term strategies Conflict between traditional notion of uni & Economic rationalism Danger of highly rationalised business model Strategic recruitment LTU staff best advocates For the uni Pride & Advocacy Pride amongst staff Staff not engaged to be best advocates for the uni Students identify with LTU community & are proud Still a warm friendly place Community engagement Active engagement with industry / business Increased community involvement Non-action after review No change Waste of time Time wasted – no improvement Nothing has happened in last 3 yrs No identifying what is working now Failure to identify what is being done well Messages going out need to be consistent La Trobe swallowed by Deacon Changes to the sector may have impacts LTU Merged Review: - LTU swallowed - Invisible - Insignificant Bradley review & impact on the organisation La Trobe may no longer exist La Trobe merges with another uni unless We define our strengths No more asbestos Stop the rumours No more bad news stories Managing Bad news stories Consistent Messages Website must be cleansed Risk of non-compliance issues Shortages of resources – unknown of reduction of staff Good staff departing No more bad news stories Losing corporate knowledge through staff departures
  14. 14. Impact Evaluation of Executive Education <ul><li>Top 100 organisation </li></ul><ul><li>Large $ spend on staff education </li></ul><ul><li>Difficulty in measuring ROI for programs </li></ul><ul><li>Wanted to gauge impact in the workplace </li></ul><ul><li>Using the Kirkpatrick model as framework for impact evaluation over time </li></ul>Complexity in Action
  15. 15. Impact Evaluation of Executive Education Complexity in Action
  16. 16. Future of Volunteering in Australia Fact: Meals on Wheels rely on volunteers Statistic: Average age of a volunteer: 60+ Question: What happens to Meals on Wheels when the pool of volunteers dries up? Question: What motivates / drives people to volunteer? Complexity in Action
  17. 17. Future of Volunteering in NSW Complexity in Action
  18. 18. Complexity in Action Ageing workforce – knowledge transition <ul><li>by 2012 the number of individuals in Australia’s labour force of age 55+ will increase by 15.4%, while the number of workers page 25- 54 will only increase by 6.3% </li></ul><ul><li>Employment growth is expected to be 50% higher for females (10%) compared to that of males (6%) between now & 2012 - Mercer Workplace 2012 report Dec 2008 </li></ul><ul><li>Major Australian Statutory body </li></ul><ul><li>How do we transfer & retain knowledge within an ageing workforce? </li></ul><ul><li>Captured narrative fragments of experiences of knowledge sharing in the organisation </li></ul><ul><li>Barriers and issues identified </li></ul>
  19. 19. Building competitiveness & innovation <ul><li>Embracing complexity </li></ul><ul><li>There is no one right answer </li></ul><ul><li>Work within the contours of your organisation </li></ul><ul><li>Context is key Some questions: </li></ul><ul><li>What can we change in our organisation? </li></ul><ul><li>Of those things we can change, what can we monitor for the emergent impact of those changes? </li></ul><ul><li>Of those things we can change & monitor – what should we change (probe, amplify, dampen)? </li></ul>
  20. 20. Thank you! Contact Details: Chris Fletcher email: Ph: 0402 308 403