Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Leverage Systems Thinking to Understand Patterns and Drive Changes

System thinking is just a tool at their disposal to try to evaluate beforehand what will happen as they start the process as well as make the proper adjustment on the way of changes. 

Uncertainty, ambiguity, unpredictability, velocity, etc, are the digital new normal. To keep up with today's changes and market disruptions requires the right people with a growth mindset and high changeability. Systems Thinking helps to understand patterns, interconnectivity between parts and the whole, the interrelationship of businesses in order to manage changes systematically and lead digital transformation seamlessly.

See the connections and interdependence: Business and world are always on and have become hyper-connected and interdependent. To gain an in-depth understanding of interdependence, it is important to apply System Thinking to view the digital organization as an interconnected and interdependent system. The structured cross-functional interdependencies can be enabled with formal business elements such as management systems (planning and controlling), standardized processes, or centralized functions. There are also the informal business interdependencies (symbiosis), which has a greater dose of informal organizational elements such as information flow, shared corporate value or culture, business dialects, collective knowledge, and expertise, etc. Highly innovative organizations digitally connect key resources and assets in the context of the idea reaching innovation hubs and clusters across the digital ecosystem for sharing and co-creating new context, to reach a higher state of business innovation and maturity.

See the invisible behind the visible: Change is inevitable, but the success rate of change is very low. One of the reason change often fails because so many companies and business managers only focus on tangible, but they lack an in-depth understanding of invisible or intangible things such as culture, communication, etc, just getting them to consider the list of intangibles would be a breakthrough. Thus, systems thinking is an important tool to help identify the patterns, hard and soft forces, visible and invisible factors of changes. Change is dynamic, and the business system is complex and contextual, without an in-depth understanding of people, process, and technology, the blind spots and gaps are inevitable. Typically, either strategy execution or change management fails due to surprises and unknown/unforeseen factors. Metaphorically, change is like the iceberg, usually, the large part underneath the water is invisible, but a crucial decisive factor for the success or failure of Change Management. That means you have to dive deeper to understand unknown, see invisible in order to read digital sentiment clearly and drive changes effortlessly.

See how things in the 'now' came from the past: We cannot predict anything beforehand but can imagine with many experiences involved in current or in the past. History often repeats itself, a business can take advantage of "lesson learned," through re-introducing the past in a new way and build the bridge to connect the past to today’s initiatives and performance. From the management perspective, lack of reflection, change review, and pattern recognition is one of the biggest pitfalls in change management and business transformation effort. Therefore, Systems Thinking is a great tool enabling us to understand the interconnection from the temporal dimension, see how things in the new came from the past. Leveraging systems thinking to view the past also allows us to recognize possible conflict that could approach from where we have been to where we want to go. Like the rear mirror as the tool to make sure we understand where we are, what behinds us, any immediate gaps or dangers that stop us from steering forward safely and effectively.

See how changes would happen over time toward the future: Though there are always great lessons to learn from the past, future is what we should focus on. The challenges that organizations face include the high velocity of changes, complexity, or uncertainties which could blur our vision and make future unpredictable. No wonder today’s business managers so easily feel lost and get stuck at the transactional activities only - keep the business wheel spinning, but sometimes going nowhere. Systems Thinking could become an effective tool to help them understand how changes would happen over time toward the future, look into the unknown future and attempt to define the landscape with its opportunities and risks, and help to push the future in the direction they want, strongly and reliably. By leveraging systems thinking to navigate forward, the business management is able to more accurately judge the coming curves and obstacles, what small change can be made that might effectively change the future significantly.

What consequences can be created through actions: Organizations and their people learn through their interactions with the environment. They plan, act, observe the consequences of their action, make inferences about those consequences, and draw implications for future action. Systems Thinking is an important tool to help understand the interconnections between those steps - what consequences can be created through actions, and how to make the necessary adjustment to achieve a better outcome? Are your people and process integrated to ensure a consistent ability to deliver business results? Digital enablement is always about planning, funding, designing, building, operating, securing, optimizing and balancing. Digital management is fundamentally an iterative cycle to design, build, scale and optimize business competency and achieve the desired effect under specified performance standards and conditions. Systems Thinking helps business leaders pay attention to the myriad of internal and external forces that define and influence the way they do business these days. So they can make systematic planning and take logical steps for achieving well-defined goals, measuring resources, making the adjustment to move forward confidently.

System thinking is just a tool at their disposal to try to evaluate beforehand what will happen as they start the process as well as make the proper adjustment on the way of changes. Systems Thinking does not create change per se. Digital leaders and influencers create change. Systems Thinking is an effective tool, but for the approach to be positive in the social world, you need to stay away from thinking that a system is a "thing," you need to remember it is only a tool, in implementing the goal, you need to understand humans and how they change. They are the center of change and real change masters.


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