How to apply complexity science to better answer “How are we/you doing?”

Most businesses, especially those that want to scale, are complex, interdependent systems. One of the best minds I have come across on complexity science is David Snowden – author of the Cynefin Framework – now a book. Here is what I have learned from him on complex adaptive systems and how to optimize them:

A complex, adaptive system is defined by its connections not by the things that connect. That is, to create change in this system, focus on the connections not the endpoints. That means, do not try to change individuals, change the people they are connected with and allow them to choose to change or not.

Lastly, if you want a specific behavior to change, have that person interact regularly with others who already exhibit that behavior.

If they do not end up changing, over time, they are very likely not going to change anyway. 
The following is a set of questions to ask regularly to figure out what to do next to nudge things in a better direction, if necessary.

Employee engagement question

Instead of, or in concert with, asking eNPS or Employee Engagement questions, try this:

Think back to your last week at work, think of one story from your experience when things were made either easier, or more challenging to work here.  Which one story from your last week would you share with someone who does not work here? A story which best reflects what it is like to work here?

Ask 5-10% of your team members every month. Continually compile the data, make sure that the storyteller explains the meaning of the story completely (DO NOT INTERPRET YOURSELF). Then determine what you need to do to increase the number of stories that people see to be positive and worthwhile while decreasing the opposites.

TIP – Depending on how psychologically safe your environment is, you may need to offer anonymous submissions. 

Other possible questions:

How would you describe, to your children or grand children, the key way(s) we make the lives of our customers better? (Strategy)
How would you explain what we do during our weekly team meeting to your best friend? (Execution)
Describe, in your owns words, what our current company strategy is. (Strategy)
How would you explain how we set our most important company priorities to your child or grandchild? (Execution)
Tell a story of what the most important thing your team accomplishes and how they get it done. (Strategy/Execution)
Explain how your company makes money in a way that your child and your parent/guardian would understand. (Cash)

I hope one or more of these ideas works for you.

Be Exceptional!

Bill – Certified Growth Coach, Foundations in NeuroLeadership certified, PI Certified Partner, MG100 member coach

For MA companies ONLY, as an approved Training and Development provider, Catalyst Growth Advisors can offer up to 50% off program fees. Click here to see if you qualify.

Please click here to download the free pdf version of my book Further, Faster – The Vital Few Steps that Take the Guesswork out of Growth. There is also a link to Amazon for the audio, e-book or paperback versions.

Published by Bill Flynn

Gazelles Member Advisor and early stage startup specialist with a proven track record with 16 Boston-based startups (9 to date with 5 successful outcomes, advisor to 7 others); SMB to Fortune 500 companies. 20+ years of Senior Sales, Marketing and GM experience in industries including mobile advertising, security, digital advertising, e-commerce and IT. Core Competencies: Player/Coach, Metrics-driven, Execution-based philosophy, Life-long learner

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