On Being Intentional
The Intentional Organisation — Issue #19
On Being intentional
I recently stumbled on a LinkedIn post by Bruce McTague titled future of work is a new business model focused on the praise of emergence, conceptual thinking, and the necessity to rethink an entire business model to redefine the world and meaning of work.
I was impressed by this article because it summed up a lot of my ideas as well. To be fair, my definition of “Business Model” is more apt to be limited to an organisation, but I understand that the author meant a broader way of doing business, affecting the entire ecosystem.
I also appreciated the connection between the disruption linked to the pandemics and the need to accelerate in the identification of a new meaning of work. As you know, these two aspects are what I have been writing more about in recent years.
If you believe complexity, and a complex world, is here to stay, you have to embrace emergence rather than just predictability to find success.
This is the first sentence of the article. Very difficult to not agree with what is written. Yet, I don’t think that emergence and practicability are antonyms. I feel more like there’s a tension between emergence and intentionality, whereas the level of predictability depends on other aspects, normally external to the organisation. A tension also here not between two colliding worlds, but with two coexisting forces needed to cope with a challenging environment.
Developing Organizational Awareness
Balancing the necessary “sensing” for emergence, and the need for intentionality is what I have labelled Organizational Awareness. I saw this expressed in a process (or rather a cycle), where emergent steps would alternate to intentional design ones.
Yet, the article of McTague reasons of emergence on a slightly different angle, proposing the following objective:
The emergent objective:
a continuously improving, learning, organization adaptive to emerging contextual opportunities and challenges
It’s interesting because creating an organisation that is “adaptive to the emergent contextual opportunities” is where I see the intentional design to be necessarily applied. Why? Because the moment you capture the weak signal of emergence, that’s where you need the catch opportunity to build something new, that necessitate consistency and coherence in design.
The author builds a parallel between emergence and human potential, arguing for technology and AI that can augment humanity to let people express their potential. But this is where I see, once more, the need to intentionally build tools, frameworks, environments that allow the potential to flourish, and transform into performance (in its largest possible sense).
A New Ecosystem Emerging
The above is not a critique of the article, more of a support. It might be a question of definitions because what’s important is the conclusions of that post
- New way of thinking about how business is done
- New way to think about how technology is used to the benefit of people (which benefits the business)
- New way to think about workers (people as potential untapped)
Definitely an element to ponder, even more, today. In a moment where topics such as “The Great Resignation” become prominent, the capacity to move away from predictability and into sense-making is key. We need to call out for a renewed Role of HR Professionals in this world, that join the capability of sensing the environment and building for the future, untapping the potential of people.
What do you think?
This article was originally published as part of the Intentional Organisation newsletter on December 3rd, 2021.