Wednesday, May 11, 2022


Business leaders and professionals should present multidimensional intelligence and apply gray logic to understand the “shade of gray” for making strategic decisions.

The digital organization is a dynamic ecological system with business attributes such as hyper-connectivity, interdependence, and nonlinearity, having a full spectrum of colors with many shades in between. Digital leaders and professionals should take multidimensional lenses to perceive the multi-facet world, leverage interdisciplinary inference or reasoning to understand complex problems, apply systems thinking to clarify the interconnected relationship between the parts and the whole, embrace the opposite sides and uncover gray logic behind quite a few overlapping areas in order to deal with varying business issues smoothly and make transformative changes.

Gray logic of “right & wrong”: Change is difficult as there are varying frictions and obstacles on the way. When trying to determine the macro environment and how the factors influence business strategy/plan one way or another, it is difficult to move away entirely from assumptions. One of the pitfalls either for improvement or innovation is sometimes getting the 'right answer' to the wrong question; make forecasts based on wrong assumptions. In such a complex world, there is no absolute right or wrong in many circumstances. Thus, organizations must learn how to manage the “shade of gray” - in terms of “Right, Wrong or Marginally Right or Wrong.”

There are rules that are locally right, but globally wrong; there are problems from your perspective, but technically fine from others’ perspective. A solution is nothing if the problem is not perceived holistically. Thus, in order to solve issues effectively, creating awareness of the problem from a different perspective is the first step to making a solution to be understood and accepted. In order to deepen understanding of issues, business leaders should adjust their attitude (emotions, cultures, or circumstances, etc.) to the digital new normal, “right the wrong” timely if necessary, frame change efforts, manage “shade of gray,” and improve change management success rate significantly.

Gray logic between autonomy & control: We are gradually moving from industry economy to knowledge economy, from knowledge economy to creative economy. Many organizations are running at both industrial speed and digital speed as different individuals or functions adapt to change with different speed. There is gray logic behind running a holistic business as there is the massive gray area between the two styles of management disciplines – top-down “command & control” and autonomy – encourage self-management disciplines.

Technically, the movement like digital transformation helps the organizational management shift from overly rigid pyramidal organizational structure toward flatter hierarchies, and from process-driven “command & control” to people-centric self-management by encouraging autonomy and self-management as an emerging trend for adapting to increasing pace of change. if you ensure the people have autonomy within their tasks or projects, they will be able to address performance on an equal partnership basis. A well-defined set of rules and practices are important to clarify gray logic – what should be automated, what needs to be controlled; how to mutually enforce management and governance, in order to run a successful organization with hybrid workforces and speed.

Gray logic between flexibility & process:
Business opportunities and risks are co-existing in the organizations nowadays. Every opportunity has risks embedded in it; and every risk perhaps brings opportunities. Uncertainties, inherent variability, and the unknown interdependencies among sources of risks, are strategy, possibly causing fatal failures. In terms of risk avoidance and the risk-tolerance culture, there is a gray area in between, the key is balance. Thus, to make a shift from risk mitigation to risk management to risk intelligence, it’s critical to clarify the gray logic of when to enforce critical process management, where you should flex the process to catalyze innovation.

To improve organizational resilience, improve process coherence on one side, but give enough autonomy and flexibility to the business for making its own decisions on taking or avoiding risks. The risk management mechanism needs to be well embedded in hard business processes, as well as soft business factors such as corporate culture and put in place a mandated risk tolerance structure via escalation requirements based on current risk ratings in order to run a high performance organization with risk intelligence.

Both businesses and the world become over-complex, hyper-connected, extremely uncertain and ambiguous than ever. The current rules, processes, or practices, which are made by different generations of people come in for questioning. To survive and thrive amid constant changes, business leaders and professionals should present multidimensional intelligence and apply gray logic to understand the “shade of gray” for making strategic decisions. Companies can reclaim the right balance of chaos & order, management & governance, build strategic resilience and operational agility into their business foundations to accelerate changes and achieve high performance results.


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