One step will not change behaviors

“She crouched in a dim room, hands touching the smooth stone floor, which had been eroded by thousands upon thousands of footfalls. If stone met a man, stone might win—but if stone met humanity, then no force could preserve it.”

–Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

One small change will rarely make a difference when trying to change behaviors in an organization. It takes focused and continuous action towards a clear goal to make a real change. That is why Big Bang changes rarely work. It is the small steps that happen daily that shows the people in an organization what behaviors you are promoting.

Facts are not enough

“She had seen her home distilled into a sterile list of facts. Each was individually true, but the list conveyed nothing of what it sounded like when a flock of ravens wheeled into the sky…”

–Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

Many people wants to make decisions just based on facts, believing that they are objective and rational human beings. Even if you create the most objective and rational decision making process. A subjective human being has created the process and chosen the facts to look at.

The other problem with just looking at data points is that you miss the context they are created in. Data points can’t be interpreted without connections and stories. And stories without data can be unreliable.

This is the difference between Big data and Thick data: Big data, gives us a lot of data and facts. Thick data will instead gives us the context and the stories. Both are needed.

Solving complex problems require a simple organization

A control room was no longer a necessity when even the most complicated of systems could be operated from a simple console, even just a portable one. That Ricard had insisted on a full control room and the executives to staff it demonstrated the usual Inspectorate mindset: that being in charge required inferior ranks to obey you, a precise territory to piss-mark and dominate. And the more important you were, the bigger the office and the larger the staff you had to have, even if neither was strictly necessary.

– Neal Asher, The Departure

Our world becomes more complex and fast all the time, and it forces our organizations to solve complex problems faster. Many organizations try to solve this by implementing more project managers and line managers and have them focus on making things faster. The problem with this approach is that on paper it might become faster but I don’t think you actually solve the real issues. To solve complex problems you need a simple organization where the teams actually working on the problems can make the decisions. To be able to make those decisions and solve the problems the teams need contain all the necessary competencies without becoming too big (3–8 people is optimal).

They also need to be presented with the context of the problem they are working on and the organization’s overall goals in such a way that they understand it. This last part seems to be really difficult for many organizations…

The two machines

“One should never mistake pattern for meaning.”

– Iain Banks, The Hydrogen Sonata

Humans are pattern-seeking machines. We try to find connections everywhere and we will find them even if they are not there. After we find a pattern the story-machine takes over and will immediately create a story to explain the pattern and it will search in your vast memory to find all the evidence that will boost the story and the pattern, and hide away all the evidence that contradicts it. These two machines has created many horrors and wonders.

Meaning is everywhere

“Meaning is everywhere. There is always meaning. Or at least all things show a disturbing tendency to have meaning ascribed to them when intelligent creatures are present. It’s just that there’s no final Meaning, with a capital M. Though the illusion that there might be is comforting for a certain class of mind.”

– Iain M. Banks, The Hydrogen Sonata