" Deflate VUCA " could be an alternative title for this final episode.
The power of our infamous " V.U.C.A gang " for damages have been sketched from Episode 1 to 5.
This serie was an objective description of entropy at workplaces.
On people, processes, P&Ls (Profit&Losses) and balance sheets. A cash burning furnace.
Leads and call for action.
(Final) Episode 6 is proposing a new global approach.
Practical solution is based on pivot manoeuvers inspired by different geometries and transitions.
A process covering the 4 dimensions as combinations, into a cubic framework.(Tricky...).
In order to make it simpler, you need to dare to face complexity.
As a mandatory, demanding first step.
With a look on all dimensions and elements of its roots and routes.
And UCA colleagues.
The below "X-Cube " will be the model illustration to link dimensions and drilling axis, a practical way to handle volatility and uncertainty in business.
Golden Copper / Black & White "X Series" Cube.Essilor International Varilux® X-Series
Photo Credits FJL © 2018
Just a visual support to ease understanding.
Some gimmick to illustrate the proposed tactical manoeuvers steps, logic and dynamics.
It is claimed to be a practical approach, organizing existing elements, into a never met combination and perspective look As far as I know.
It is powerful enough to clear some VUCA clouds , and recover a better vision and sight.
Therefore reveal tactical options.
This is the final contribution to design inputs and proposals to fix the lack of insights , theory frames and practices (or so it seems), to tackle this serial and silent killer.
Not for sale : free gift to share, so we stated from Episode 1.
How to deflate VUCA ?
How to get rid of a portion of its effects, even if not for good, because of its entropic nature?
we must admit we cannot defeat it : life and business are growing alike with complexity.
How to articulate the answers we gave to each of the 4 dimensions ?
How to finally bundle and organize the practical analysis and response framework?
How to re-visit the decisions and options according to VUCA streams head or sidewinds inviting themselves to the cube ?
As a reminder : Going back to our crime scene and buzzword acronym, in its official order :
Volatility previously pictured as permanent trigger of anxiety.
Uncertainty unveiled as the mother of the non decision.
Complexity the root cause of lack of time and much more crimes or damages.
Problem becoming : how can we mitigate collateral damages of growth farmed on VUCA soils ?
Understand, master, re-design processes clogged with bureaucratic roadblocks
Last : Ambiguity, a special animal, identified as the mask and undercover false identity of non-decisions.
Defined in former episodes as a fraud about paradox, as in " Ability to manage paradox" being defined as a skill in many HR referentials, while massively hiding unfair, genuine contradictions (logical dead ends) ,
It has been evaluated trickier than complexity.Call for mandatory deflation action plan.
It increases the pressure put on people first, and into each elements a of the global structure.It is disturbing, leading processes and decision making off balance.
Ambiguity touches all businesses, processes, even very small ones, start ups.
Scale ups are the most exposed when power and governance are changing hands.
AAA an "Anonymous Ambiguity Animal" impacts everyone in the day to day business, without clear trouble maker.
Nobody's fault indeed, as ther is often nobody to blame but a failure and entropy generated by innovation meeting legacy layers.
It is a consequence of new categories of products, services, flows, trades and tribes. Works the same on administration,non profit organization, communities, neuronal networks.
Even where empowerment is effective, in agile and lean organizations, it is far from being ambiguity proof.
Let's name it simply : "X-Cube ".
It will be the short cut to describe our model to link multiple dimensions and depths, and cross-checks.
Complete name would be something like : "X-Cube VUCA deflator".
A concept, process, tool and templates set.
But very close to the practical way to handle volatility and uncertainty in real business life and work.
Summarized in 3 different transitions phases.
Take a step back and soaking time to get a larger strategic and tactical view, from backgrounds to remote horizons (1), then rotate and deep dive into specific views, picture and design the perspective of different initiatives alignments (2), while even drilling down to elementary elements of the underground whenever needed to get details data (3).
Each phase counts multiples steps, and the full process contains all necessary iterations and loops to find the optimized answers and reveal final alignment.
All along the 3 phases and back manoeuvers, label or re-label every brick and layers, not forgetting names of individuals actors and decidors for each of them.
This is to securely bond the strategic view with execution views and layers (multiple sides and depths)
And cross check.
Episode 6 is proposing a new global and comprehensive tactical approach based on analytics and agility generated by a gates and review system, a governance energetic pulse, and pivot manoeuvers inspired by different cubic geometries and transition phases :
rubik's cube cinetics, (a simple analogy to get)
hoshin kanri / X-matrix lean models (professional tools deserving close attention)
exitonic matter sub-atomic condensation (just for the fun)
the set of the 4 V,U,C and A sculptures already introduced (a bridge between art and science, soft and hard skills needed for the change : a brain stretcher)
Again : a very objective description of entropy dynamics at work.
At workplaces indeed.
And in any human organization
An absolute priority call to act on it, unless you are fine with value leakage (risky attitude),
No doubt that bosses, customers and shareholders will wake you up
On the is not a piece of cake but possible to act on the 4 dimensions as a combination, into a cubic framework.
VUCA volcano smoke and hashes clouds may be cleared partially or for a moment, so to recover vision and tactical pivots acuity.
Building additional freedom axis capabilities for options and alternatives.
I mean flexibility expressed into anticipation as much as reactivity.
Let's build a roof upon the fundations and links already made for mitigation and actions plans in episode 1 to 5
Managing complexity means to be able to design alternative plans, and handle different timelines and consolidation dimensions.
Solution is to educate decidors to process control (min-MAX as opposed to one sole absolute target) about last step of new products reviews, budget decisions.
Solution includes to refer more often to RACI tools describing roles and responsibilities, in order to eliminate ambiguity about people consulted, but not legitimate to take a decision.
It is a frequent with experts and high level managers or executives sitting in governance structures, that by nature turn into bottlenecks and decision making flow speed reduction.
For every decidor to be truly accountable (A from RACI) of the decision made and a real support for responsible (R) individuals, even when failing.
The goal is to add a set of flexibility freedom axis, in a very practical way, made of initiatives pipeline, even under the limits of 20-50% draft range.
Simplification of the decision making process is a very efficient grid, under the absolute and rarely exisiting condition to add quantitative data about empowerment : it is mandatory count how many gates of decision and how many people are involved along end to end processes and change the mix of categories.
And it is easy to set objectives of over 50% less complexity and numbers of actors involved into the decision.
How do we do it ?
By moving as many as possible from Responsibilities (R) to Consulted (C) status.
So the first step toward the solution is to face the puzzling multiple choices carried into ambiguity and volatility parameters.
And choose specific tactics lines and angles (golden copper edge) to compute the expected outputs, risks and value creation opportunities.
Of course other VUCA ripples are close and able to touchdown and impact any of the different plans.
These are some reality checks to discuss, observe, compute or simulate.
X-Cube Black & Blue Series. Essilor International Varilux® X-Series
Photo Credits FJL © 2018
Model sketch credits : FJL 2017 for Simplifeye Academy training materials.
Pixels and layers pictures addition from Essilor International annual report.
The solution also contains a formal change plan, driving a transformation requiring muscles, heart and a collective mind.
A plan identifying stakeholders (all involved or impacted), and the set of 1% individual decidors to gather as a collective mind.With an individual and sub groups evaluation of engagement and resistance value to alternantive plans.
The plan also must list all governance instances, road map and planning to visit and survey each of them individually or as groups in decision making stages and "steering whatever" boxes.
Heart and mind are the main focus to make it a real transformation leap and DNA addition.
We also propose to extend this group to 2% (make the math with your own organization) by bringing in diversity and interfaces agents, into a process, entirely dedicated to simplification and transformation manoeuvers, highly fed with all VUCA inputs.
Lean actors would recognize some "Hoshin like" patterns, but to be understood and set up with a clear and sharp different focus and goal.
For the darers (for fun), I below use an analogy with edge of matter research, because of alignment and energy spread mechanism in very highly VUCA conditions.
Nice cube and multi-elements moving geometry too that resonates with both our management framework and the Episode 5 VUCA alignement and cubes entanglement sculpture by S.Zanello.
Excitonic matter.(Artist's depiction)
"Collective excitons of an excitonic solid". Credits : Source: Peter Abbamonte, University of Illinois.
Exciton ? is a cool name and perfectly matching very co-operative inteliigence frameworks and our "X-Cube".
As a matter of fact (playing wth words) , this science edge output was powered and made possible by Inputs and contribution from UC Berkeley and University of Amsterdam.
With "collective excitation". It is a nice illustration of the dynamics and levers contained into the process.The possibilities to reveal opportunities and leads not expected at first sight (serendipity effect) are driven by the rotation and iterative cross checks working sessions or moments.
Such cinetics at work are strong contributors to the momentum, and fill of the initiatives pipeline and tactical pivots options as a continuous recycling flow.
Presented as serendipity and collective intelligence combination at work against Volatility, for scientists were studying instability (of a so called Wigner crystal) when they found this new form of matter ( "exciton condensation" / "soft plasmon") first described in Dec 2017.
(Call it close to the edge (Yes!) and state of the art at the date of E6 hack posting on the Mix!)
All about energy and momentum relationships.
Solution in this dimension is to open the strategic and tactical design to more diverse, smart contributors, who can propose additional pipelines intiatives, or pivot elements, breakthrough, relying upon strong data analytics and cross checks (reason for the X-Cube analogy).
But not for the sake of innovation, as it is a often done with all sorts of "Hackatons", but under the flag of simplification, fight against ambiguity and complexity fine sorting and cleaning campaigns.
Strategic blueprint and very limited audience strategic chamber exercice as a first step.
Extended to bolder recurrent tactical reviews with extended attendees, to expose, propose and fill up pipeline flows at much more detailed levels, layers and elements, with individuals engagement and accountability and re-align key leaders and influencers real timewhile, deciding on pivots manoeuvers because of VUCA effects or opportunities emerging from parallel innovation road maps processes.
Lessons learned show clearly that the success factor and winning tactical choice is to get a maximum of decidors aware, beyond denial, and capable of driving simplification through clarity on their own ambiguity moments and own accountability on complexity.
Give it a bold try at least.
Any reduction of ambiguity, that translates into clarity about what to do and about boundaries : what not to do, limits of compliance or empowerment, is creating additional agility.
U dimension is the "call for simplification" axis and a catalyst to tackle the VUCA global set of constraints, and get some perceived and objective relief on daylife at work.
Major benefit is to take stress out of the system and people's mind.
Reducing ambiguity does help to lower down uncertainty.
Reducing complexity as well.
Complexity can be measured precisely and reduced or eliminated in thousands of elements of the business (non) value chain of activities.
We refer to an existing referential by APQC counting over 1600 elements
APQC (American Productivity & Quality Center) is a processes and Knowledge Management benchmarking non-profit structure.
Results are made of leadership decisions and technical fixes on tasks, processes, governance.
Cost control and reduction.
Not as primary targets, but a natural consequence of the capabilty to re-allocate resources to growth ambition. Cherry and icing on the cake.
The name of the game is : "Do not stop at the awareness sign. ACT."
Next towns on the road being previously mapped and identified as :
Sketchclear = get a clear(er) vision of where the organization is heading to. It whiten or erase ambiguity and make it simpler to engage.
Some (decidors) may resist the change when losing some comfort, story-telling options and buffers provided by ambiguity.
Same for these feeling the loss of personal value or workload previously based on complexity.
Daresome = get a fair amount of innovative initiatives,
Risk aversed parts of the organization may want to avoid this frightening city on the map.
A challenge for individuals and bounded networks with knowledge based power strategies
Influence change agents, lobby toward decidors, pitch to managers and associates, propose to finance gate keepers, even yell in public corporate or civil servants meetings, wokshops, seminars, on and off site , for a (re)action to shake and re-align organization, processes, management, leadership and decision making around anti-VUCA anti-fragile tactical pivot to the true north.
If South is the land and mapping of losses and bureaucracy, so North is obvious destination.
Bold management road is somehow bumpy and winding. Beware.
1. Resignation : executive and managers often believe that decision is the onl and "unevitable" answer to uncertainty.
While it is likely true and real life on short term firefighting or overload context.
Or a belief strong enough there is nothing else to do.
2.Overcome natural fear : confusion do exists between agility presented as an excuse for unprepared and not communicated tactical pivots (into a stage gates process for instance).
It is fair to recognize a change in data or in decisions, although accountabiity should go back to decidors about simplification of the number of options chosen in advance and revealed into contengency plan, back up plans and back up people namely defined in RACI tools.
3. Anti-KM attitude : "We, I don't know what you don't know " plus any other possible combination of U and I. Knowledge Management is a skill that can be developped.
As it is a skill about dealing with complexity, and capability to share it and give the feeling it is simpler than it is.
So to make it accessible to a greater happy few and actionable to a wider scope of people or business cases.
(Positive) Paradox is about something looking complex, and uncertain, but giving the sense that it is possible de read, or decipher, or break the code.
It is also possbile to plus put someprocess control and triggers for re-alignment (entropy damages barriers and canals) at a reasonable premium cost.
4. Denial : executive and managers often believe that decision are clear enough for action by teams.
As much as teams do not dare to recognize they are puzzled and hesitating between interpretations or even between their own understanding versus ambiguty in the decision.
5.Accountability : confusion do exists between agility presented as an excuse for tactical pivots (necessary) and later change of position (into a stage gates process for instance).
It is fair to recognize a change in data or in decisions, although accountabiity should go back to teams whend decidors ask for full decision power.
6. Paradox shield : an intellectual bias is often revealed when the skill to manage paradox is required from managers when it is in reality, pure ambiguity.
Paradox is about something looking like not logical or rational but right because of context, or viewpoint, or sequences.
It is difficult for many relying upon so called "rational " or "cartesian" analysis, to accept that his statements about "Things than gain from disorder" are not easy contrarian position but a real alterntive grid to break the code of environments driven by a fair amount of uncertainty.
Science and economy proved that very few real world systems are governed following these rationalty rules.
For it is only an effect of us as simplistic obervers, especially back in the 16th century.
While human behavior, especially as groups dynamics, is barely driven or followed with rational decisions and reactions.
C dimension is the easiest (or the less difficult) entry door to tackle the VUCA and get visible impact on daylife at work.
U dimension can be measured and reduced or eliminated.Especially before and after Decision Gates.
But it requires to clear as much as as possible many dimensions and elements from Ambiguity blur, preferably as a prior step, or in parallel.
That is the rational for the sequence we chose and followed, that is to say some " CAUV " roadmap, to have a positive effect and drive on VUCA.
It is not only a theory, but a process already at work into a transformation experience into the global company I have the chance to innovate in that matter.
Complexity being defined as the primary target of simplification, and the clearest for everyone.Not the easiest one, but easy to sell.
Pain points are popping out in a matter of hours with group of people involved into serving customers.
It requires a reasonable effort of removing upper layer of dust on legacy systems and bureaucracy. popping out in a matter of hours with group of people involved into serving customers.
First is to train investigators to observe the effect of complexity, presented as a "silent killer ".
Train investigators to look, to measure and to analyze sub-processes, performances, and lorganic elements at work into the organization and the eco-system around
Good news : no one is really gone (maybe some individuals who resigned because puzzled), only the collective common sense, lost into transation of complexity into actionable decisions.
Train and coach as many as possible but carefully, step by step, not by massive batches, peers as much as bosses to separate useful and useless complexity.
(Note : avoid exclusive focus on " waste" as often in mis-understood lean approches, we are talking deep simplification)
Uncertainty is the mother of the non decision.
The rational (and opposite) for high and rapid assets returns requests, hedges, ventures and alike.
Uncertainty is a frequent brake too often activated mainy to gain time or to lower the risk of a decision, not as a risk mitigation but as a shield against accountability.
As a summary of previous sections : 3 practical steps are easy first shots
1. the use of RACI grids
2. The addition ot formal decision of additional inputs and details such as the scope limits and links to time (temporary or new rules to spread).
3. Training and coaching of executives and managers, all in charge of both teams an decisions to request change management plan, including pivots option selection, as well as simpification in Plans A solutions.
Hoshin being a potential candidate process and tool although it is possible to make it simpler as far as dimensions and elements as a first shot. Even not showing any formal template but follow the logic in an open brainstorming environment.
4. Training and coaching of executives and managers, to check on clarity and to quit the paradox umbrella (often an unfair biais as we stated).
a. bring clarity
c.Not add any additional ambiguity
"X Series-Cube". Eye Care Professional trade marketing campaign kit for Varilux X-Series from Essilor International.
Excitonic matter. Artist's depiction "Collective excitons of an excitonic solid".
Credits : Source: Peter Abbamonte, University of Illinois. At Urbana-Champaign, Department of Physics and Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory.
1 Jeffrey Liker in "Hoshin Kanri Helps Toyota Improve for the Long Term ", Industry Week, October 19, 2014 (link) ; Jeffrey Liker, The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World's Greatest Manufacturer, New York, McGraw Hill, 2004 (ISBN 978-0-07-139231-0, LCCN 2004300007
2. "Hoshin Kanri for the Lean Enterprise: Developing Competitive Capabilities and Managing Profit " by Thomas L. Jackson, 2006 2007 Shingo Prize Winner
3.Hoshin Kanri: Policy Deployment for Successful TQM" (originally published as Hoshin Kanri Katsuyo no Jissai, 1988), Cambridge MA: productivity Press,
4.Dynamic management : Better decisions in uncertain times. Lowell Bryan.Mc Kinsey Quarterly 2010 Number 1.Strategy and leadership in turbulent times.(Likely the oldest reference and first touch point I remember about uncertainty)
I wish I did not ignore someone else previous similar contribution :
"We don't know what we don't know" as one says.
VUCA Series alignment scuptures slideshow (pdf version) with comments coming soon (some technical difficulties to upload such material on the MIX platform...bare with me for few days.....)
Home page of the slideshow