How Businesses Can Overcome Their Biggest Challenges, Fast

How Businesses Can Overcome Their Biggest Challenges, Fast

By seamlessly integrating the organization’s nervous system—just like your own nervous system—your business can overcome big challenges with speed and agility.

The Lion on the Desk

Imagine you walk into your office one morning and discover a ferocious lion on your desk. If you’re like most people, in the blink of an eye, you’d slam the door and run away. If you deconstruct that split second and play it in slow motion, you sensed the lion, absorbed the implications, thought through your options, decided on the best path forward, and then acted. No delay. No need to ask anyone for help. No need to strike a task force or call in consultants. You would go from sensing the lion to fleeing in a split second.

This is because your nervous system is integrated—you have everything you need in order to independently respond to obvious threats or obvious opportunities.

Your team, your business unit, your department, your organization, don’t move that fast. That’s because the multidimensional challenges you face—like growing, taking out cost, merging, launching new products, improving the customer experience, formulating policy, and so forth—are not solved by any one individual, nor are the solutions executed by any one individual.

The Importance of a Diverse Decision

Doing so requires a diversity of talent from inside and around the organization. It requires people with all the necessary data, knowledge, experience, thinking styles, and influence. Those people are all distributed, which makes it very difficult and very time consuming for them to sense threats or opportunities, absorb them, think through solutions, decide, and then execute in a unified way. Your organization’s nervous system is fragmented. That’s a universal truth.

To integrate the nervous system so that the team, business unit, or organization can overcome big challenges fast, you need to learn how to co-create in special-purpose, high-variety groups. ‘Special-purpose’ means the group is being convened to answer something, solve something, decide on something, align on something, create the plan of action for something. A ‘high-variety group’ is typically 12-50 people, brought together for their combined ability to solve, influence and execute on a specific challenge.

In our new book, Cracking Complexity, we lay out how to frame the challenge / the special purpose in the form of a central question, identify requisite variety by using the 12 Zones of Variety and 13 characteristics, prepare the group, engineer high volume, high quality, high speed collisions amongst everyone with everyone, capture and organize what emerges—things to do, things to try, further complexities that have revealed themselves—and how to mobilize execution.

Originally published on Quora.

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