Thursday, February 01, 2018

All models are wrong and some are useful

During my recent chat with @Kate R S about assessing organisation's maturity, we talked quite a bit about various models and touched about Dreyfus, Shu-ha-ri, etc. 
One thing that kept coming back to my mind was the aphorism, "All models are wrong, and some are useful." This is especially true while we are analysing a large organisation or a team. 
I see organisations like any other living systems as it is run by living organisms. The complex nature of the human thinking and their interactions keep creating emergent behaviors every minute of the day.  
Trying to capture the organisation's behavior and represent it in a simplistic model is a futile exercise. As I said before, the emergent properties of a system change due to the various factors. New people are joining, old people living the organisations, corporate politics, ego-war, protecting the turfs, threat from competition, etc. keep changing the dynamics of the organisations. 
Besides, the organisations are so complex that, there is no guarantee that the data that is gathered to assess the system is the right one. Even if we gathered the data is accurate, it still represents the snapshot of the system. Creating a two-year plan to fix the organisations based on today's information is as bad as doing nothing or may be worse!
Bottomline, if you are planning to assess an organisation, be aware that: 
  • The understanding the overall system as much as possible is the first step
  • Observe, listen and act. This could take some time. 
  • Remember that, the models that are constructed based on today's data would be stale by tomorrow. Be ready to throw it away rather than hanging-on-to it. 
  • Understand the leverage points to drive the change rather than static models.
Before I end this article, let me share about my upcoming Certified LeSS Practitioner trainings in Sydney and Melbourne. You can register for these courses using the links below:

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