Mental Models and Organizations Amid Growing Complexity

How does an organizations relationship to its stakeholders change amid growing complexity? Why do we need to scrutinize if our mental models are shaped from our own solutions looking out rather than from the stakeholders looking in? And what could we learn from and apply to the way we are organized?

This presentation is a recent interactive talk for an organizations wanting perspectives on how to reach their stakeholders in the 21st century.


[2] — “The infrastructure we build over the next four years will determine the fate of humanity” — Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

[5] — We are living in the age of mass individualization. No two people get the same Google search result, see the same products on, have the same Facebook feed or iTunes catalogue. Every smartphone is unique two minutes after its first boot. We are living in an age where the new mega industries have all become personal services industries and the old incumbents are still struggling to put out a mass product at almost no margin or cost (e.g. digital news media, insurance, banks, bikes, cars, tooth picks etc.).

[11] — «What they [business organizations] really need to home in on is the progress that the customer is trying to make in a given circumstance — what the customer hopes to accomplish. This is what we’ve come to call the job to be done.» — Clayton Christensen, Know your customers job to be done,

A person solves these jobs in her life / reaches her outcomes through her behaviors. She hires an organization’s products and/or services because of the processes these offer that allow for different types of transactions and behaviors. These processes are themselves limited to what the current technology can offer. And hence a person’s behavior is limited to the technology that is available and the business organization’s imagination to utilize these technologies. The responsibility of a business organization is therefore to continuously imagine how customer jobs, behaviors, processes and technologies can improve and what kind of customer value they can incentivize. And work hard to continuously maximize their relationship with the customer through the solutions/processes/transactions that their technologies can offer.

[12] — Over time organizations seem to forget their understanding of the market, their Customer Value Proposition. They become prone to unconsciously hold a very limited view of their future. Seeing the world from a technology, market or product perspective creates a very narrow frame of reference where new wealth opportunities are easily overlooked.

[14] — In a world where the only thing certain is uncertainty a fail-safe culture of processes, planning and strategy is suffocating organizations ability to compete.

[16] — The first thing that fails in an uncertain domain is scientific management. All challenges are solved inside a beautifully choreographed and trained machinery of roles, rules, guidelines, components and transactions. But, in these organizations where the process, not the product becomes the measure of success, any abruption to the process becomes the problem. Ans so, when met with uncertainty the company will pull all its force to create the illusion that the world is still the same, buy customer insight to prove they can fit the customer to the problem and fail to explore or prioritize anomalies.

“In the choice between changing one’s mind and proving there’s no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof.” — John Kenneth Galbrait

[17] — The old management model is a control mechanism subdividing talent into compartments where top-management destroys their ability to create value. Enabling organizations are driving information rapidly out to front-line self-organizing teams in order for them to operate autonomously and react instantly to changes in customer demand patterns. Employees given the opportunity to use their talent unleash massive wealth for the corporation. Cases in point: Salesforce, Netflix, Patagonia, Zappos, Tesla, AirBNB, Morning Star, Etsy, Nest, Spotify, Valve, Google, Burtzorg, Haier, Gore Technologies, DSM, GE Health, Whole Foods, Zara, Telus, Uber, Amazon, Facebook, Apple