Looking Back at Looking Forward

sharing knowledge about organisational foresight

Flexible Firms

On to chapter 10 of Johansen’s Get There Early describing the emergence of flexible firms. Coincidentally, I read chapter 10 after having completed a work project in quick time.

The task was to review emerging trends looking out five to ten years and produce a concise overview along with organisational implications.

The process was networked, drawing on domain experts horizontally and put together without going through all of the normal hierarchical approvals. All done in super quick time.

How did this happen? By following some principles of networked engagement. In chapter 10 Johansen describes the principles of engagement applied by the IFTF. Several of them applied to my own experience as above.

These are the ‘principles for flexibility’ that have worked for me:

Courageous opinions, humbly expressed – where diversity of perspectives is mandatory. Provocative, strongly held points of view are of value…but only those expressed with humility, respect for others, and thoughtful reflection on alternative views.

Give generously, ask respectively – working as teams is a co-dependent situation, having trust and confidence to work together. This requires being “direct with one another and express our opinions honestly, not through back channels”. It is also about valuing silence, listening and contemplation.

Honor essential processes – follow core business practices while minimising administrative and management processes.

March 9, 2008 Posted by | foresight | , , , | Leave a comment

Machiavelli

I read Ross King’s biography Machiavelli over the break. I found it a fascinating and insightful view of Machiavelli and life in 15th century Europe. How things have changed….and remained the same!

King identified an inherent conflict in Machiavelli’s thinking which I feel is very profound. On the one hand Machiavelli held that “Men are unable to master their own natures” (p176) effectively stranding the individual in a form of perpetual stasis.

Whatever influences through birth or environment work to forge the individual, once developed norms of behaviour are hard to change. Unable to learn either from the past or adapt that which is emerging they act as passive vessels… mistakes and history are repeated.

So much for freedom of action. How can a Prince dispense wisdom and advice to others and expect them to change.

There are obvious parallels with operationalising strategic thinking and achieving organisation change. Perhaps it is better to act in collaboration with like minded individuals working through interconnected networks.

January 13, 2008 Posted by | knowledge networks, philosophy | , , , , | Leave a comment