Co-Creation presentation from Agile2013

Last week I presented a talk on Co-creation at Agile2013. It was well received and at least for me, made it clear that co-creation is a challenging topic that requires intestinal fortitude to execute successfully.



Given the blistering rate of change, increasingly savvy consumers, and a noisy market, businesses must change the way they engage customers, particularly for new product innovation. Here, the requirements are nebulous, ever-evolving, and customers have as vague a notion of what they really need as their suppliers do. There are tools for navigating this grey-zone of ambiguity. One of them is co-creation.
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Robustness vs. Resilience

An awesome slide presentation from Dave Snowden of Cognitive Edge. Black Swan Events, Power Law Distributions, and Pareto. Enjoy!

Moving from a system designed for robustness to one that supports resilience represents a significant strategic shift. Whilst systems have commonly been designed to be robust – systems which are designed to prevent failure – increasing complexity and the difficulty it poses to fail-proof planning have made a shift to “resilience” strategically imperative. A resilient system on the other hand accepts that failure is inevitable and focuses instead on early discovery and fast recovery from failure.

The Longitude Problem

Expert entrainment is both good and bad depending on the domain in which it is applied. Dave Snowden‘s video explains why. Not only is this instructive, it is humorous. The main points I took away were:

  1. Despite having a plausible theory and good empirical proof, uptake of a new idea is not a slam-dunk. External pressure is needed to to drive change in many instances.
  2. Mental filters cloud our thinking. Adapting one set of mental tools to solve a problem in another domain can fail when you are operating the complex domain.
  3. And finally, the Welsh discovered America.

Leading change effectively means dealing with expert entrainment by adding competing perspectives. Enjoy…

Fons Trompenaars on Cultural Leadership and Innovation

I’ve been a fan of Fons Trompenaars ever since I read the book “Riding the Waves of Culture” about a decade ago. See the Books page on this blog for a link. Enjoy these two short videos by Dr. Trompernaars.

Multicultural leadership is about reconciling the differences in culture.

Innovation also leverages cultural diversity.

Adapt or Die – US Military develops Agile Leaders

I read a very interesting paper on why the traditional Command and Control, plan up-front approach steeped in military history must change.

“Operating within an uncertain, unpredictable environment, the Army must be prepared to sustain operations during a period of persistent conflict—a blurring of familiar distinctions between war and peace.” This is a protracted war against adversaries employing irregular, unconventional, and asymmetrical means. The implications of this new context are clear: “Adapt or Die.”

The landscape of warfare has changed. More uncertainty, hidden enemies, and unpredictability. Training leaders to respond in this context requires a different approach.

The Army’s Training and Leader Development Panel (ATLDP) Officer Study concluded that, because of the ambiguous nature of the future operating environment, leaders should focus on developing the “enduring competencies,” or what they call metacompetencies, of self-awareness and adaptability. They recognized that the two were symbiotic; one without the other is useless. These metacompetencies are the essential building blocks of learning. Agility embodies this symbiotic relationship between self-awareness and adaptability. In this paper, agility is a metaphor for self-awareness and adaptability in action, the essence of learning.

Adapting fast requires changes in doctrine and the evolution of rapid organizational learning.

The process of rapid, effective organizational learning is the essence of organizational agility.

Senior leaders have the authority and resources to drive this change into their organizations, be they military organizations, or otherwise. The organization’s culture must be tuned to allow Agility to take hold. Differences between British and American military culture is telling.

Culture is unique; it is the organization’s personality based on its own set of experiences. Nagl’s study, as well as others that he cites, show the differences between the American and British military cultures and the impact on their ability to innovate during conflict. His conclusion is that differences in organizational culture allowed the British military to adapt and learn during its irregular warfare experience of counterinsurgency in Malaya, while the U.S. Army’s culture prevented it from learning during its similar experiences in Vietnam. Culture, an organization’s conventional wisdom about its essence, is a powerful lens that organizations use in interpreting their experiences and determining how or what to learn from these experiences.

The change in mindset required is the adoption of the “culture of innovation”

The training approach recommended in this paper is a move away from the traditional master-apprentice approach to that of co-learner and facilitator. I’ll close with this quote from the paper which says it all.

Rather than operating in a paradigm that perceives certain determinable linear cause-and-effect relationships, students will operate in a context that sees holistic, open, dynamic, emergent, complexly organized, rationalistic relationships that are too complex to be absolutely known. Applying knowledge and skill sets in this complex and ambiguous environment, dealing with the unexpected, operating with incomplete information, and making calculated decisions of risk all increase individual agility.

You can find the paper here.