Is creativity the only answer to complexity ?

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Basically that would make sense. In an industrial economy everything is product-centric : we know what it is, what it’s made of, of which pieces it’s composed, there’s one and only one to produce and assemble them, and everyone knows exactly what he has to do. It’s a system based on infinite repetition of totally scripted actions whithout any deviation : each production has to be the exact clone of the previous one.

In a knowledge based economy, things change. Most of times, the product consists in “finding a solution to a problem”. That makes things much more complex. Each steps depends on the the result of the previous and the product (ie the solution) is unknown at the starting of the production.

So there’s no suprise to see projects failing when people try to apply them what used to work before.

But we can get throught that : let’s see how.

At this time we realize it may be useful to adapt to many kind of domains what the software industry has been experiencing for years, which is called “agile methods“, working by iterations, and redefining strategy after each iteration, without waiting for the traditional weekly review to realize things went off course. To make it short, by fixing problems where they appear, at the time they appear, and giving as much visibilty as possible to the others in order each one can define its own strategy depending on the other’s. With, as a conclusion, the necessity for adopting the way of communicating and the tools which the emission of a social signal possible (and it reception by anyone too).

Of course, such a method only works if some key points are precisely defined (and only them) and some slack is given to the rest. Such words may worry some control addicted people, but I can tell you it works, things are done within the alloted time and imponderables can be managed. As a project manager in a big company told me once “we work this way and formalize things once they’re done, not before…and I think we are one of the rare teams which is always on time, achieve its goals, and provide exactly what we are asked to”.

This also imply people have specific skills : enough maturity and self responsability, the wisdom for knowing when “old recipes” avec to be used and when innovation is needed, control (nothing more than needed) and trust.

People also have to be creative in their day to day job (I’d rather call it pragmatism…), to such an extend people at Harvard are wondering if the “Master of Fine Arts” is the future of  MBA. I’ve often talked about  the necessity for building company’s rigth brain and, obviously, Tom Davenport doesn’t see things that way. Whatever, I think everybody thinks the same but say it differently.

Tomorrow’s companies won’t be right brained companies, neither they’re presently left brained : they will be companies which connect both right and left hemispheres (read here too). in order to be agile, innovative, without being out of control. But in order to connect two hemispheres, both have to exist, and fact is right brain development has been neglected for a long time.

And, for those who may not feel confortable with the death of “full control”, they may ask to a Zen Master in order to understand their problem is not about loosening control but about the thought of lossing power. It’s a matter of ego, not a matter of business performance.