A great comment by ZEN BENEFIEL on my post below triggered the idea of this post.
In his comment, he mentioned how he uses simple rules to manage complexity. His comment reminded me of the Harvard Business Review Press—Six Simple Rules: How To Manage Complexity Without Getting Complicated—Boston Consulting Group partners Yves Morieux and Peter Tollman suggest a gallant effort at helping complex organizations improve their performance in a complex world.
I want first to discuss the book and then revert to the comment of Zen.
The xix-rules focus first on empowering the employees and enhancing their autonomy, from then the empowered employees need to collaborate and work as a cohesive team to reach organizational goals.
In a VUCA world overwhelmed by Vagueness, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Volatility employees seek increasingly having SCARF. SCARF stands for Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, and Fairness.
There is a potential risk between giving employees what they want and empowering them at the same time they need for them to work as teams within the boundaries of the goals and mission of an organization. Autonomy may put at risk teamwork.
This is analogous to sand grains. One sand grain is strong, but sand grains do not stick to each other, they are like herding cats. To the contrast, clay particles are weak individually, but stick to each other.
This is the paradox-empowering employees with the simultaneity of making, they team up with the mindset that wants to help the team to the best one can. One other example of paradoxes is employees asking for certainty in an ever-increasing world of uncertainty.
The challenge is finding the balance between paradoxical wants and needs. So, how to meet this challenge?
The Flying Birds Model
Birds realize that they may save up to 78% of the energy they consume while flying by following three simple rules. If they do not fly, it becomes much more energy demanding. It serves the birds to abide by the simple rules and fly as a team.
Humans need to work under certain conditions to accept balancing their demands with the paradoxical demands of the work. The six rules address this need by making certain recommendations, as I shall discuss soon.
The six rules fall into two categories. The first one empowering the individual and the second set for making employees work as a team.
The first rules to empower the employees are:
- Understand what your employees do. This aims to what degree the interests of the employees align with the goals and mission of the organization.
- Find your integrators. This rule aims at finding the employees who act as a glue or bridge between groups with their influence.
- Give employees more power. This is a delicate issue because employees must feel they enjoy autonomy while also valuing to work with their teammates.
The second set of rules aim at finding the balance between personal interests and work interests and make employees realize the value of cooperation and fee the benefit of doing so.
- Take resources from every employee. Insufficient resources force employees to work as a team because they need to exchange resources. This is what I call “forced cooperation or forced teaming”.
- Make employees accountable for their work. This is to make employees do their best for they say produce faulty products and they are also in charge of solving any faulty one shall then do their best to avoid this extra workload.
- Avoid punishing failure. To the opposite, encourage failures because failures teach more than successes. The fear of failure deprives employees of thinking creatively and stresses them leading to lowering their performance.
I may say that the rules create cooperation by creating the need for working together and by removing fears of failure.
It is of paramount importance that people need simple rules to remove vagueness and have few choices than increasing the ambiguity of having many rules. Many rules lead to vagueness and uncertainty and hence the simpler the rules are the more employees shall accept them.
Having simple rules that people can understand and remember is far better than having many vague rules that employees do not understand or remember.
Complexity and VUCA environments create unfairness and hide accountability.
The Balanced Scorecard of the Six Rules
The value of the six rules is that cater for paradoxical demands. It is finding balance that makes the scorecard balanced.
The new six rules-based balanced scorecards summarize the above.
Make employees feel autonomous and feel satisfied that their work is of value.
Because employees feel so, their performance goes up. Because their performance goes up they may have an increasing tendency to work individually and not as a team and may tend to deviate from the goal of the organization.
Because of this tendency, there is need to force collaboration indirectly by limiting the resources available to them, which encourages interdependency and by making them accountable for any mistake and correct for it.
Because employees sense the benefit of cooperation with teammates, they foster such cooperation and increase the overall performance.
Because of this increased performance, the customers shall be delighted.
Because of delighted customers, the profits shall increase.
Back to the Comment of ZEN BENEFIEL
In his comment, Zen described how he deals with complexity. He wrote:
As a partnering session facilitator… Well, let me explain that a bit first. I am hired to conduct team building and issue resolution sessions for construction teams before breaking ground. For example, the F-35 Operations and Maintenance Facility at Luke AFB in Arizona was one of those projects. My job is to stand in the middle of the room and lessen entropy from the start. In the issue resolution section, we list all the issues with the edict of not solving them, just listing. Then we go back through the list to determine and solve appropriately.
My sessions are unique, including verbiage such as ‘jobarchy,’ the job is the boss and everyone wins. ‘There’s no ego without wego’ is a follow-up, just to mix it up, and get them thinking outside the normal paradigms. I have found that in these and other project teams or organizations there is a natural flow that is yet to be discovered because the right questions are not being asked. I have learned to stand in the middle of chaos or entropy and find order, just by being still and aware that the right questions will lead to better order. It is not about trying to solve problems with the knowledge we have. If we had the knowledge, the problems would not happen in the first place. ‘I don’t know,’ is a death knell to many, yet when you start from that place and ask the right questions, its natural solution emerges from the group.
We face that today in the great reset or rather the great awakening. It is the same, just different verbiage. How we see it matters most as we will react or respond accordingly. My point is the complexity is handled simply by the open and transparent communication amongst the organization, team et al. It is odd at first because people are not used to be listened to, let alone intently and responsively. So, I never think of ‘problems,’ just opportunities to better organize people, places, and things of their own accord.
Is there a better example of how to apply the six rules? I find this comment so interesting because it:
- Finds where he stands and the gap between what employees want and what the organization seeks.
- Zen removes vagueness so that employees feel better and their performances get better.
- Zen expects to solution to emerge rather than plan for them.
- Zen allows for tolerance of faults because solutions shall emerge by trial and error.
- Zen got the balanced scorecard balanced.