‘Time & the Tide May Wait for No One, But How Do You Manage Complexity?’

Paul Adam Mudd
Jan 29, 2017 · 6 min read

The ‘Tide of Change’ continues to flow through just about every area of both our working and our personal life. We are continually required to be agile in how we respond and adapt, to be flexible, to be strong, resilient, or to just go with the flow.

In previous pieces I have looked at building ‘Personal Resilience’, developing ‘Personal Mastery’ & how to become a ‘Super Performer’ & the belief that to respond effectively in any given situation requires both flexibility & resilience, is at the heart of The Mudd Partnership’s Leadership, Change Management & People Development practice.

It’s all change

In the workplace we might be faced with new stakeholders and partners requiring that we establish different kinds of relationships and ways of working together; new skills may become necessary to effectively manage new forms of contracts; priorities may shift and we might find ourselves having to operate with extra levels of accountability and control.

Whilst in our home life we may face the incursion of work increasingly eating into precious family time, &, the continuing issue around managing the Work Life Balance is a chunky subject that I have also looked at recently on Medium in two related pieces.

Do we have a choice?

The way we choose to spend our leisure time may also be changing as new things become available to do, or as our budget grows. How we shop, what we buy and where we go to do both are also changing as the range of choices we can make increase and it can be all too easy to be carried along by the Tide.

Are we then the Consumer or the Consumed? And are we able to be a Thinking Performer in the workplace, or are we being marginalised and reduced to just another piece in the Jigsaw?

If we recognise and admit to any of these states then we also recognise and admit that our ability to remain flexible and resilient is also continually being challenged — We are in fact under constant siege and this is all part of the Complexity we each face as part Modern Life.

So, do the happiest people have the hardest jobs?

In another recent piece I also asked, ‘Do The Happiest People Really Have The Hardest Jobs?’ & spoke of Rosabeth Moss Kanter who had written in the Harvard Business Review about why she thought that the happiest people did seem to have the hardest jobs!

In a 1992 publication, ‘Flow, The Psychology Of Happiness’ M. Csikszentmihaly wrote of unconscious self-assurance and drew upon the mid-1980′s research of Richard Logan into the ‘Flow Experience’ which in turn was based on the solitary ordeals of Polar Explorers & Concentration Camp inmates.

Regular readers of my pieces will also recall that one rather famous inmate of a Russian Gulag, Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, believed that being ‘good and likeable’ and ‘not so good and not so likeable’ was of course inherent in us all!

Richard Logan found from his study of inmates and explorers, that they did not doubt their own resources could be sufficient to allow them to determine their fate and in that sense you could call them self-assured. Yet, at the same time, their Egos appeared to be curiously absent: They were not self-centred and their energy was typically bent towards dominating their environment as much as finding a way to function harmoniously within it.

If we no longer regard ourselves to be in opposition to what is going on around us i.e. our goals and intentions no longer taking precedence over everything else, then we can allow ourselves to feel part of whatever Change is happening around us and do our level best within the System.

I believe that this ability to recognise that our goals may have to be subordinated to a greater good and to succeed we may have to play by a different set of rules from those we might naturally prefer, suggests a sense of humility. It’s also the hallmark of resilient and emotionally intelligent people, and a prerequisite for Present leadership in a Modern World!

But what gives an Organisation or Business its Heart?

What provides Corporacy and enables Superb Management, Superb Leadership, Agility, Acuity and Super Performance to take place?

It is strong individuals with well-developed interpersonal skills combined with ‘Creativity’, who come together and start to Change the organisational narrative. These people also have within their power the very fate of the Organisation or Business — Whether it survives the pressures of Change and does so in good shape!

Incredibly, before the full impact of modern influences that have brought in their wake a near hysteria for Change in most Organisations & Businesses today, Kotter & Schlesinger writing in the Harvard Business Review over 30 years ago spoke of most companies finding that they must, ‘undertake moderate organisational changes at least once a year and major changes every 4 or 5 years’.

So, should we look back to go forward & take the Teleological View?

Back in 1979, Kotter & Schlesinger outlined a systematic way to select a strategy and a set of specific approaches for implementing an Organisational Change Process, or Intervention.

1stly, they described various causes for resistance to Change including, parochial self-interest,misunderstanding & lack of trust, different & conflicting assessments of the situation, &, a low tolerance for Change.

They then went on to describe how to positively influence individuals and groups during a Change Process, in order to overcome this resistance including, education & communication,engagement & participation, negotiation & agreement, manipulation & co-operation, &, both implicit & explicit coercion.

And finally they advocated a four-step approach to improve the chances of the success of the Change Process:

conducting an organisational analysis to identify the current situation, problems and the tensions that are the possible causes of those problems;

conducting an analysis of factors relevant to producing the needed changes — People, Ownership of Information, &, Relationships;

selecting a strategy that spells out the speed of the Change, the amount of pre-planning/lead-time required, &, the degree of everyone’s involvement; &

monitoring the implementation process to identify and react to the unexpected in time and intelligently (i.e. acknowledging the Whole System).

Then we have Icebergs…

Which leads us nicely onto that old Iceberg of Kurt Lewins’. This is broken down into three phases (Unfreezing, Movement & Re-Freezing) and in turn led French, Kast & Robenzweig to list 8 specific actions to set against these.

So with Unfreezing you have Initial Problem Identification & Obtaining Data; with the Movement phase you would Diagnose the Problem, Develop an Action Plan, Implement & take steps to Stabilise & Follow-up; & finally with the Re-Freezing phase you would Assess & Learn.

As we all know, as much as 90% of any Iceberg is under water, which leads us squarely into the territory of Known Unknowns & Unknown Knowns.

Systemic Change at its Heart is the management of inherent tensions and forces out-with any overall control and sometimes out-with what is in fact even Knowable, &, the skill is to work with both the Significant and the Insignificant — To court small, incremental win wins, to continually push and drive forward the narrative of the Change journey, to plant, embed, consolidate, review and move forward, whilst accepting the inevitable dissonance. Embrace Change then as a fundamental first step in Managing Complexity!

Paul Mudd is the author of ‘Uncovering Mindfulness: In Search Of A Life More Meaningful’ available on Amazon and www.bookboon.com; the ‘Coffee & A Cup of Mindfulness’ and the ‘Mindful Hacks For Mindful Living & Mindful Working’ series. He is also a Contributing Author to The Huffington Post and a Contributing Writer to Thrive Global. Through The Mudd Partnership he works with business leaders, organisations and individuals in support of change, leadership excellence, business growth, organistional and individual wellbeing and well doing, and introducing Mindfulness. He can be contacted at paul@themuddpartnership.co.uk and you can follow the continuing journey uncovering Mindfulness on Twitter @TheMindfulBook and at @Paul_Mudd

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Paul Adam Mudd

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I’m About Making The Complex Less Complex, The Tough Stuff Not So Tough & Like Archimedes Finding A Place To Stand | Huff Post, Thrive Global & Medium Writer

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