Charting a course through complexity 

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The importance of zooming out

During a meeting with a team of directors I’m coaching, about the kick-off of their company’s transformation, one of the board-members drops the following question: ‘Can’t we just implement this new operating model, organise some training and onboarding sessions and move forward? We already have so much on our plate: IT is about to start the digital transformation, our sustainability department is knocking on our door as the results are lacking behind, we have a quota for more diversity at the top and our stakeholders wants to see money.’

The weight of today’s world

I look around the table and see a group of leaders with all good intentions but who also feel the pressure of today’s world and business environment they are operating in. An environment of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. In which they have to deal with economic uncertainty, climate change, the rise of AI, migration flows, shortage of labour and new generations who value work in a different way. A world of exponential change in which good is simply no longer good enough.

The Domino Effect

Continuing our conversation, we get the bigger topics on the table and how they are related to each other. Suddenly, the CIO drops the elephant in the room, ’Alright, I have an order of our investor to speed up our digitalization. Other companies are ahead of us and if we are not careful, we will be too far  behind.’ ‘Good point,’ the CHRO responds,’ Let’s assume we speedup our digitalisation and at the same time implement a new agile model. Do we think that our people, our teams have the capacity to work on both projects at the same time? I understand we have this pressure from our investors, but to whom do we want to deliver value and at what cost?’

Maybe you recognise these kinds of discussions and growing challenges? 

Sometimes we are so focused on company orders, shareholders, profit and the competition without being aware of the consequences. Unintended consequences which impact your organisational system and sometimes also your ecosystem.

Growing challenges impact our work and life. More and more people start to ask questions about the meaning of what we do and why they are doing this. Although we, human beings, businesses, governance, know that we have a big role to play in find the right solutions, we struggle with how to get there. This can be related to all kind of reasons. One of them is that we do not have a clear view of the entire system which we operate in. Being unaware of what our circle of influence is, can cause a downwards spiralling effect as we dive into details and use common approaches to deal with unknown or uncommon territory.

Identifying transformation strategies

Are you also facing the daunting challenge of leading your organisation through a transformation in today’s fast-paced and ever-changing environment? Maybe you even recognise the scenario of sitting at a boardroom table, surrounded by well-intentioned leaders, each grappling with their own priorities and pressures.

The key to success lies in gaining a broader perspective, understanding the interconnectedness of your challenges, and redefining your purpose. Let’s explore 5 actionable examples to help you navigate your transformation by zooming out and mapping your system.

  1. System mapping to gain strategic clarity: Start by visualising your organisation’s ecosystem. Create a comprehensive map that highlights the relationships between different departments, functions, and stakeholders.
  2. Balance digitalisation and Agility: Address the capacity of your teams to handle multiple initiatives simultaneously. Explore ways to align your digitalisation efforts with an agile operating model, ensuring that you deliver value without overburdening your workforce.
  3. Purpose-driven decision-making: Shift your focus from immediate orders and profit to a purpose-driven approach. Define your organisation’s core purpose and values, and use them as guiding principles for decision-making.
  4. Understand your ecosystem: Acknowledge that your organisation exists within a larger ecosystem, influenced by external factors like economic trends, environmental changes, and societal shifts. Stay informed about these external dynamics to make more informed decisions.
  5. Break through silos for inclusivity: Encourage cross-functional collaboration by breaking down silos within your organisation. Foster an inclusive approach where leaders from different departments work together to address common challenges and align their efforts with a shared purpose.

From awareness to action

Circling back to the leadership-team I worked with. They became aware of the pattern in their approach. Although they were a team, they concluded that they still solely prioritised the plans for their specific area of expertise. After intense conversations and proper coaching, they committed to break this circle and started to zoom out to get a better understanding of the entire system they operated in. This with the aim to find a more inclusive approach related to their overall purpose.

As you embark on your transformation journey, remember that a holistic perspective is the key to success. By zooming out and mapping your system, you can make informed decisions, adapt to change more effectively, and create a more inclusive and purpose-driven organisation. Embrace the complexity of today’s world, and use it as an opportunity to thrive, rather than merely survive.

In your leadership role, how do you plan to apply these strategies to successfully navigate your organisation’s transformation journey amidst the challenges of today’s complex business landscape?

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts, practices or questions so we can help each other forward. If you think this is of value for others, then please share it with your network. I greatly appreciate that.

I hoop to meet you soon. And don’t hesitate to connect. Additionally, if you have questions leave a comment or feel free to get in touch for a call to discuss how I can further help you on this journey. 

Transforming lives and business for good.

Cheers,

Alize Hofmeester

It’s my purpose to spark the Human X-factor and create purpose driven spaces where everybody is able to grow.

How? Put people & purpose at the heart of your organisation and drive your transformation People Led.

Passionated about living by purpose. Entrepreneur and founder of Twinxter and the TwinxterAcademy, Author of Purpose Driven People, creating business agility & sustainable growth, Co-author of Agile People Principles, Transformational Leadership in the fitness and physical activity sector & Emergence, Creator of the People Journey Circle, Keynote Speaker

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Alize Hofmeester

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