Dave’s written a excellent post on how to make progress in a complex environment. It’s excellent because it comes at a time when I’m working with a client where their staff have come up with a range of initiatives yet there is a feeling among some of the project members that the initiatives wont make a difference—they are not clear winners.
In hindsight, I should have made my approach clearer to my client and said that we create a process for the client to work things out for themselves and that I don’t have the answers. I suspect they’re used to the highly controlled and ‘expert’ facilitator who leads the group to a conclusion that is mostly pre-determined. But I didn’t do that. I used a combination of narrative techniques, open space and world cafe approaches so the business folk worked out their own way forward.
Mind you there’s a spectrum here. I have insights to share. I’ve seen many other organisations and their initiatives but I know the context will be different and a tremendous success in one organisation might go nowhere in another. But they are still possible patterns for experimentation. I need to work on other ways to share these ideas and experiences.
I liked Dave’s tests for whether an initiative should be tried. To paraphrase:
I’d like to add another criteria,
Failure is scary for organisations. But without a safe-fail culture new ideas and new opportunities will never stick.