“It is important to first realize that complex tasks cannot be completed by following a recipe or a set of instructions, or even an extensive list of rules and regulations.”
Rick Nason, It’s Not Complicated: The Art and Science of Complexity in Business
In a recent post, Joyline Makani and Martine Durier-Copp stated that developing an adaptive mindset was a critical component of deeper learning. Rick Nason agrees, suggesting that the adaptive mindset is essential to succeed within our current environment that boasts an insatiable appetite for complexity. Rather than be discouraged by seemingly unmanageable problems, Rick believes that complexity can present advantages to the astute manager.
Rick Nason explains:
In a complex environment, it is truly rare that a grand plan or strategy will work as intended. Successful managers, however, are not discouraged by this. They learn from their missteps and use their learning to move forward with a new angle on the problem. They essentially learn as they go. Furthermore, they expect to learn as they go.
Complicated thinkers tend to get too intellectually invested in an idea and refuse to let go, despite sometimes overwhelming evidence that the plan is not working. Complexity thinkers have the humility and flexibility not to get trapped into this low-probability strategy. With a try, learn, and adapt approach, organizations have to allow for mistakes to be made and for risks to be taken. They do not take large bets on grand projects or get too invested in comprehensive plans. A key characteristic of complexity is adaption.
To succeed with complexity, an organization must also be continually adapting. It is important to note that this does not necessarily mean getting better or continually improving. It is quite possible to keep continually improving on all of the wrong things. Kodak continued to improve its film products, but when digital photos replaced film, all of the continual improvement was for naught.
Adapting means developing a keen sense of how elements of the system are changing and trying new ideas to see how they work in the context of shifting environment. Ultimately, adapting means changing along with the environment rather than trying to get the environment to change. (Excerpt taken from It’s Not Complicated – The Art and Science of Complexity in Business Pages 96 & 97)