‘Hiring a COO is an opportunity to challenge organisational inertia: to think differently and creatively about processes and systems and to ask important questions about why things are done a certain way’. This is a quotation taken from a recent article in the The Times Raconteur, ‘What will the COO of the future look like?’
Organisations experience novelty, either when their activities have resulted in them facing situations for which they were not prepared and had little or no experience, or because external events have forced them into the same space. Either way, in such situations, leaders need to:
- not make matters worse by guessing and
- ‘perch’ and focus on what is actually happening, rather than what they think should be happening.
Easy to say in retrospect; more demanding whilst an organisation’s tectonic plates are colliding out of control.
The problem, therefore, for COOs, and indeed the rest of the C suite, is both thinking outside of the box and having the requisite variety to resist trying to fit a square ‘box’ into a round ‘hole’, driven by an urgent need to change … but often based on mistaken assumptions. This is a persistent risk for those leading in environments replete with high complexity, short time spans and too much novelty. This is explained in more detail here.
The situation worsens because people have a natural tendency, when considering unfolding events, to over credit the past and superimpose previous meaning and thus decision-making onto present situations (the square box/round hole conundrum). In fast-moving situations, this can quickly get organisations into deep trouble, where not only have actors failed to think outside the box, they have forced redundant meaning (and therefore actions) onto fundamentally different situations.
So, more verifiably, COOs have to be confident that they really know what the story is before they make decisions and take actions. In this sense, the aphorism ‘thinking outside the box’ needs to be applied not so much to what they are looking at but, rather, how they are looking at it. This is why Organisational Sensemaking is widely used as the research methodology for the investigation of major disasters and events in which social action has either created the disaster or made it worse.
However, the quality of Organisational Sensemaking is the critical determining factor for the success of all organisations faced with new scenarios, not purely those engaged in life threatening situations. The better the sensemaking processes, the better the decision-making and the better the outcomes.
From a COO’s perspective, better collaboration tools are required that can help frame their decisions with the best possible information, arrived at plausibly and quickly, with reduced ambiguity. If ever there was a point in time for the power of technology to prove its value to COOs who face a ‘perfect storm’ of decision-taking, it is now. Nothing else will meet the needs of the time, or indeed the unique circumstances.
Photo by Fabian Wiktor
Making [more] sense of ‘thinking outside the box
‘Hiring a COO is an opportunity to challenge organisational inertia: to think differently and creatively about processes and systems and to ask important questions about why things are done a certain way’. This is a quotation taken from a recent article in the The Times Raconteur, ‘What will the COO of the future look like?’ […]
Armstrong Watson – continued growth with Tensense
Supporting, advising and protecting clients for 150 years, Armstrong Watson is a rapidly growing Financial Services firm providing a full range of specialist financial services across a range of sectors. Paul Dickson, Armstrong Watson’s Managing Partner, has been using Tensense regularly since the beginning of 2021 and for the last 7 months with the new […]
Don’t let facts get in the way of the right story
In Justin Bariso’s article about the right and wrong way to conduct a discussion, he points to the role that emotions play in persuading people to accept or reject your ideas. If, like a prosecutor looking for a win in a high-profile trial, you bombard people with facts and evidence, then there is a significant […]
Dark side of working from home
Goldman Sachs has had so much business and is doing so well in the pandemic that at least for some junior investment analysts it allegedly means working 100 hour weeks, leaving very little time to sleep, eat and wash. Some might have little sympathy for junior analysts on first year salaries and bonuses averaging $123,500 […]
Micromanagement is not the answer
In an excellent article about the challenges of staying in touch with your team in this era of necessary isolation, Kerry Goyette explains why some leaders resort to micromanagement. Micromanagement is often not a preferred leadership style but caused by a feeling that leaders are losing control when they don’t see their teams working as […]
Ambiguity – how can we be ready for the unexpected?
Tyson’s famous boxing quote “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” is more apt now than ever. We’ve been royally blindsided of late. The pandemic created pandemonium, with many businesses left completely in shock, and without a plan. If this has taught us anything, it’s that business leaders will face a […]
Are CEOs getting all the information they need?
Being a CEO is a tough job, especially if you are CEO of a start-up. Bringing information to light about what employees think in an easily understood form, alongside financial information in the BI dashboard would significantly expand the CEO’s knowledge about her or his company.
White paper by Doctor Mike Carter: Philosophy of the Tensense Model
Organisational Inquiry: General and Simple to Simple and Accurate Leaders Acknowledging Trade-Offs Curious leaders want to know what’s going on in their organisations, the issues that might be impeding high performance and what their colleagues are really thinking. Curious and determined leaders make it their business to find out the answers to these questions, but […]