What are complex adaptive systems?

You're probably already in a complex adaptive system. You may as well learn how to be effective in one.

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  • Organizations aren't just organizations—they're complex adaptive systems. Thinking of them this way, says Nathan Rosenberg, founding partner of management consulting firm Insigniam, can give your organization a competitive advantage.
  • In complex adaptive systems, there is no cause and effect. Rules, or laws, have no causal efficacy. The system is constantly changing and adapting. But patterns in behaviors and relationships do begin to emerge.
  • You cannot control a complex adaptive system but you can influence it. You're an independent agent in the system and your choices make a difference.

How accountability at work can transform your organization

If you don't practice accountability at work you're letting the formula for success slip right through your hands.

  • What is accountability? It's a tool for improving performance and, once its potential is thoroughly understood, it can be leveraged at scale in any team or organization.
  • In this lesson for leaders, managers, and individuals, Shideh Sedgh Bina, a founding partner of Insigniam and the editor-in-chief of IQ Insigniam Quarterly, explains why it is so crucial to success.
  • Learn to recognize the mindset of accountable versus unaccountable people, then use Shideh's guided exercise as a template for your next post-project accountability analysis—whether that project was a success or it fell short, it's equally important to do the reckoning.

3 imperatives for leaders in the time of coronavirus

Join Big Think's co-founder and president Peter Hopkins in conversation with Professor Linda Hill on what it takes to be a boss during COVID-19.

COVID-19 is unlike anything we've experienced before. How is it forcing us to rethink what it means to be the boss?

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Finding your purpose: A less intimidating approach

Removing the pressure of finding your "dying passion" makes it easier to connect with the "why" of your work.

  • Do you know your purpose in life? If not, London Business School professor Dan Cable says that's OK. It's normal, even.
  • Many people have trouble finding their purpose because the task itself is too demanding. One way to solve this problem is by connecting with the end user of your work.
  • For example, Microsoft will take its teams on site to interview clients and find solutions. Programmers understand who's using their products by hearing it straight from the source, and this gives more meaning to their work.
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Corporate culture wasn’t built for women. Here’s how to fix that.

Here's how corporations can bring women out from the "leadership pipeline" and into actual leadership.

  • Women in high-stakes positions are scrutinized far more than men, says Tina Brown, to the point that they feel they have to be "gold in a silver job" and be absolute perfectionists to merely keep their position.
  • For women, being a parent necessitates parental leave and companies must develop ways to keep females engaged so that they are able to integrate back into work smoothly. Women, too, must lobby for this change.
  • Six to eight months of sequential parental leave may not be the best approach for keeping women engaged and on their career paths, says Brown, who thinks it might be more productive to take trenches of time throughout your career as a parent, as opposed to one huge chunk.
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