Organizational Development in the 21st century has been a challenge for many companies. When I talk to C-level or directors, most people are always looking for a future-proof version. As we all know, the 21st century is more complex than any other century, therefore looking for an always future-proof version might not work.
One example for the complexity, we live in, is the development of Ho Chi Minh City – Vietnam’s economic hub. We are planning our budget for the year, maybe even the next 2-5 years. But 2 years ago, there was no Landmark 81 in Ho Chi Minh City. Today it is the currently highest building in Southeast Asia (yet).
Complexity Thinking as basis of organizational Development
Complexity Thinking in Management 3.0 is the differentiation between the ability to predict something, which makes something complex. On the other side is the ability to understand the structure of something, which makes something complicated. The less we are able to predict the outcome, the more complex it is. The harder it is to understand the structure of something, the more complicated it is. Complex and complicated are not exclusive to each other.
If you are looking at a lego game, you will understand very easily how to build a structure. Also, easy to understand are the rules of a dice game. You roll dices and they show numbers. The outcome of a lego game is very simple: You stick them together and you get a structure based on your imagination. In a dice game, it is nearly impossible to predict the outcome, therefore dice games are chaotic.
Cities, Communities and Organizations are differently structured. There are structures, which are rather hard to understand, but have a very low variation in outcomes. Accounting for example require high skilled specialists to understand the rules & framework. But the outcome (payments, taxation, audits) are usually predictable. We do know, when we have our audits.
On the other hand, organizations have departments or units, which are easier to understand, but have less predictability. The product management team for example needs to develop a product to an ever changing environment. Customer & Buyer’s behavior is nearly impossible to predict.
Healthy organizations: Achieve structural balance with Meddler’s Game
Organizations in the 21st century need to find a way to balance their structure in the organizational development. Which organizational unit is more predictable and which unit is less predictable? Management 3.0 provides the Meddler’s Game, which is a team activity to build a scalable and healthy organization.
I started to practice that game in our public as well as in-house trainings and from all the activities, this one has the most impressive outcomes. As it makes common patterns for organizational development in 21st century visible, the discussions in the debrief are mostly among better structures around value streams. We are used to build our organizations in functional units. Teams playing the game tend to forget to think about value streams.
The Meddler’s Game is one of the games in trainings, which visualizes most the change of mindset in Management 3.0. Outcomes of that activity after the training included Managers, who reorganized their teams for more value streams and t-shaped personalities or a team, which used the practice to easily visualize, which skills are missing in a team.
Management 3.0‘s first guideline on complexity thinking is to address complexity with complexity. This means use storytelling, scribbling or visualizing to make complex environments more feasible. The Meddler’s Game is one activity, which easily uses that activity.