Bring on the Chaos

Chaos is Order

Disorder, randomness, variation, irregularity… These are the words most if not all Managers dread but which Leaders embrace and encourage.

By accepting the very nature of the world; that life is in constant flux, that change is inevitable, the life is in a state of chaos we can then move to a place where we are able to comprehend and make some sense of the world we and our organisation inhabit. We are faced then with the choice of control over our destiny or leave our destiny to the winds of chance.

FINNA accepts this paradigm and embraces a process view. Systems, management systems are constantly changing as a result of interactions with the flow of information, matter and energy from the external environment. FINNA understand the world to be in constant flux; short term structures and systems of a dynamic nature are temporarily born, live and die. Order emerges from disorder and self-destructs over time as the system no longer meets the dynamic needs of the organisation.

Gaia Hypothesis provides a guiding light about the chaos and order that flows and is informative. Gaia proposes that living organisms interact with non-living things and become co-dependant over time as changes happen to each. And so it is in life as a whole; Chaotic situations synthesis into ordered situation expressed as;

Sensitive Dependence

Strange Attractions

Self-similarity

Self-organisation

Edge of chaos

Fitness landscape

Whichever phrase suits you it is safe to say that whichever method or system you choose to adopt will become more unpredictable in the medium moving into the long term. All life, personal, family, group, organisational, national and international is governed by the constant minute often time changes in the environment.

The reality is that management systems that are lasting and valuable are actually behaviours that are complex and adaptive, capable of self-organisation. Order should on the face of it rise almost spontaneously from the mother of chaos.

So FINNA implores you to embrace open systems which are inherently capable of self-organising into a newer form of order, evolving greater levels of complexity. Novel patterns of behaviour should be encouraged so that the spontaneous self-organisation is quickly attained. But… and I stress this is important, life is a shifting landscape and points of view, perspectives of yourself and other will change through the passage of time.  Where you were once looking out from a peak one day will the very next be at the bottom of a valley. When you are high up drink the view with an open gaze, you will need this view when you hit the valleys.

The absence of a strict hierarchy and tight controls does not mean that things will immediately fall apart. Embrace the chaos, trust in the chaos and allow evolution to take place. It will anyway so get of the way, this is a natural process and natural balance will emerge. The need you feel to carry the burden of planning, organising and controlling everything all of the time should be set aside, it’s a load you need not carry.

FINNA methodology is to abandon mechanistic and deterministic thinking so that you can fully appreciate and cope with dynamic relationships and unpredictability. You should seek to coevolve with your environment meaning that being prepared to evolve and respond, quickly adapting so that opportunities can be grasped as they present themselves will give you the very best outcomes possible.

The most important things you can do is to encourage exploration, learning, diversity and variety of opinion.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this post.

Philip

Styles of Strategic Development

Understanding Strategic Developments

The FINNA concept understands that the development of strategy can be explained in several ways. Most people make sense of complex situations in more than one way… but if you look at this way… is often heard spoken. It’s fair to say however that taking just one view on a complex situation leads to partial at best and almost certainly biased understanding.

So how does FINNA see strategy development? The answer of course is that strategy is a complex thing and should be seen from as many aspects as possible.

The deliberate positioning of the organisation as a result of analysis and structured critical thinking; the approach best described as Strategy by Design.

This approach is typified by objective setting and planning systems but as a means of ‘managing the design of strategy’. Strategy in this case is a managed process. Complexity is confronted by organised thinking and logical responses. Management control is at the heart of the Design approach.

The Design approach seeks to satisfy the human deep rooted need to control the ‘mess of the environment we find ourselves in’. For those who depend or largely rely on this way of developing strategy even when the unplanned happens there is a deep force within them to believe that what happens was indeed planned.

The approach of developing strategy from experience or Strategy by being Adaptive is equally used as a means of developing strategies.

This approach largely accepts that coherent strategies dealing with the future may or even should be purposely vague and may not be pre-planning in a grand way. Strategy therefore is incremental, each strategic choice building on what has gone before. As time passes strategy creeps to meet the organisational and environmental need of the organisation and over a long period of time the strategy of the organisation may be radically different to what was first thought.

It’s the ‘taken for granted’ assumptions affected by change that leads to development of strategy in this approach.

It’s probably widely accepted that we are surrounded by diversity and variety which affects strategic direction. So the third way of looking at strategy development as Strategy through Innovation.

Innovation can come from anywhere in the organisation, it can strike an any time and at any level and so is unpredictable but often exciting when it does happen. Innovative ideas are often ill-formed and need interpretation so a sense of ready for the intelligent but messy idea is a must.

Organisations that are operating in more than one and often several sectors will develop different business areas at different speeds. The organisations over time will become fragmented in approach but are non-the-less more diverse leading generally to more innovation.

But FINNA warns that whilst on the face of it this may look like a great way of developing strategy for organisations to function effectively the flow of ideas must be filtered but the good news is that often times the organisational culture will act as the filter. Self-interested managers may bloc the more novel ideas but for those organisations open and accepting of new ideas this sort of strategy development works very well.

Which or probably more correctly which mix of strategy development you choose will be as a result of how the organisation functions but to summarise;

Strategy Development Through…
Design Adaptive Innovation
Summary Rational thinking, structured approach Incremental development based on past experiences Order and innovation comes from diversity and variety in and around the organisation
The Job of the Top Mgmt Strategic decision makers, top down in style Collators and enactors of the organisational experience Act as ‘coach’ to the creators of new ideas
Implications Change is known and planned Major change is resisted but change is incremental in nature Innovations allows and encourages change both incremental and sudden
Underpinnings Economic decision making and known sciences Culture and psychology Complexity and evolution

Thank you for reading this post and I hope you get something from it.

Philip

Now is Not Forever

When you have a meeting or even a brief chat with your team or other managers (I wont say leaders here) about changes, about plans, about the future are you met with a list of unanswerable questions?

You know the kind; “but what if…?” “don’t we need a detailed plan for…?” “what will happen when…?” Those kind of questions. The kind you can never hope to honestly answer at the point in time.

Well if you apply the FINNA logic of just enough then you very soon get to the position of; its not a problem till its a problem. Most of the things people worry about really don’t happen as they imagine, not many things and situations are ever quite as dire as first imagined. All you have to understand is that the decisions you make today don’t last forever.

Its just not so that the ideas of today, the experiments of today are designed to last forever or at least work for years on end. It seems obvious to say it but circumstances change, after all why have the new idea in the first place if not to address an emerging need? If circumstances change then decisions change. Your decisions therefore do not last forever.

By worrying unnecessarily about the future state and solving all of those impossible to predict problems even before they happen what you’re really doing is finding reasons not to do something, you’re inventing ways and reasons to stop and not move forward. Your product, your service, your career, your team, your business, your future remains on hold, stuck behind a massive pile of imagined obstacles.

Getting new products and services or projects off the ground is difficult enough without inventing ever more obstacles to overcome. FINNA says you have to optimise for NOW and worry about the future when it actually happens.

This doesn’t mean that the future will not happen, of course it will and possibly in a way you haven’t yet thought of. But that’s the thing about optimising for now, cause when change happens you’ll be ready for change. You’ll always be ready for now when now happens by staying in the present and staying close to the product, service or project.

Sounds bizarre I know but what I’m saying is that by staying close to what you’re doing and keeping in mind what you are trying to achieve that you will remain agile and ready to change course almost without notice. You’ll be capable of making those quick and sometimes sweeping changes. By being ready for now as it happens you gain the advantage of speed.

Pay close attention to today and worry about the future later as and when it comes about. If you don’t and you do become fixated, even a little bit, you’ll look back and realise that what you’ve actually been doing is wasting energy, time and often money on fixing problems when they weren’t there in the first place and may never actually materialise.

Associated with this idea that the future hasn’t happened yet is the sense of ASAP. Please don’t confuse the being in the now with constantly demanding everything ASAP. When you get so focused on speed of delivery either to you or from you, you lose sight, everything becomes a priority and nothing is a priority unless its a priority. So do prioritise work and actions by others and yourself but stop treating everything as a priority. ASAP should be banned as a phrase, it serves only to inflate your need to yourself only and actually works in the reverse for those of whom its demanded.Your request for a service is diminished and deflated.

Reserve your need for crisis language for a crisis, relax, you only ever need to act as if there is an immediate crisis when there is an immediate crisis.

Some final thoughts for this post;

When you do have an idea, keep it for a while. Put it in a safe place for the weekend and then go back and have another look at it at the start of the next week to see if its still as great an idea as you first thought it was. Chances are its not actually that great after all.

If however you get to Monday morning and the idea has legs then you have to do something with it. Putting it back in the box for a while longer will make it perish. You have to do something now. By doing something now it probably wont be perfect, there will be questions asked… but remember FINNA tells you these are possible futures not yet happened and you’ll waste energy, time and money addressing them now. You have to get on with what you really do have to do in an imperfect way while you’re motivated to do it. While you’ve been grabbed by the thought of a great future you will work hard, harder than you ever normally work because you are in the moment, you’re working for the pleasure of meeting the needs of now.

All you have to realise is that now is not forever, there will be other ideas and inspirations but whatever you do, don’t waste energy, time and money fixing the non-existent problems of the imagined future.

As always thank you for reading this post.

Philip

The Value You Add = The Value You Get

The Value You Propose to Give to Your Customers

Is it important to articulate a value proposition?

The honest answer is yes, if you want to take your ‘idea’ to being a successful business then you will, must in fact be able to say definitively what value you provide to your customers.

In its simplest form a value proposition is a positioning statement that explains what benefit your company provides for who and how it’s done uniquely well.

It should describe your target buyer, the problem you solve and why you’re distinctly better than the alternatives.

Let’s begin with the problem part, it’s always a help to understand if there is a problem that needs to be solved. Charles Kettering, inventor and entrepreneur once said that “a problem well stated is a problem half solved”. Just think about that for a moment, he’s saying that that if you really stop and think carefully right at the outset that you can stop yourself doing what a lot of us do, which is to dive-in and reach for a solution. Quite often not to THE problem but A problem, just not the right problem.

Okay, so now we know we have to think, we have got to decide where we are right now.

Q1. Does your solution, your product, your service fix a problem for your customer? If it isn’t solved are the consequences real and measurable? What are the consequences of inaction? If the answer is by doing nothing catastrophe will follow then you have a solution to a problem. If there is a person with responsibility for taking action and being held to account for the inaction, then they are the person to target the solution to.

Q2. Are there implications of regulatory or governance control at play? If the answer is yes, then the person who will be faced with the governing authority is the person to target.

Q3. Is it a priority for the customer company? The level of urgency will dictate the buying decisions, if solving the problem is not viewed as urgent then you won’t have the attention of the company. If solving the problem is urgent then finding the person responsible for scheduling the solution is the person to target.

Q4. Is there an absence of valid solutions to the problem you are looking to solve? By focusing on market areas not presently addressed, on the ‘white-space’ in a market segment then you know you have the best opportunity at building a solution to fit the gap.

Quantification of the problem; Is the problem BLATANT, LATENT, ASPIRATIONAL or CRITICAL?

Latent problems are not seen, they’re hidden and so even if you have an amazing solution to the problem it won’t fly, nobody will buy.

Aspirational problems by their nature are optional and you really have to be in the selling luxury for any solutions to these kinds of problems.

Blatant and Critical problems on the other hand are far more acute and so you want to be in the business of solving blatant and critical problems for your customers.

So… what do you have that your most sceptical customer would want to buy?

By looking at the problem differently, by offering benefits over your competitors you can transform how the problem is addressed. If you also have intellectual property over your solution you have an automatic barrier to others looking to compete for the customers you serve. The most important thing to have thought, is a disruptive technology or approach. Simply being faster and cheaper isn’t enough.

Take for example Evernote who say they set out to “help the world remember everything, communicate effectively and get things done”.

All in one place the app that records, stores and allows you access on the go all of your recorded thoughts, ideas and preserved experiences. Think you can do that with a note book and photo album? Think again.

Right so you’ve formed the problem and think you might have a solution, now you’ve taken your idea to a potential business model. Now you have to build your value proposition.

Follow a framework (this is not an original idea but it is typical, consistent and reusable)

When setting out the value proposition for FINNA I used this formula;

For – FINNA is for people looking for inspiration in a personal/business sense

Who are dissatisfied with – using books and paid for services for short and simple hints

FINNA’s product is – an on-line blog

That provides – short easy to read articles, free to access that inspire people in a personal/business sense unlike paid-for print media and weighty business school books

So you can now see that the FINNA Value Proposition is;

Help for those who are interested in personal and business development, free to access and provided in short easy to read articles accessed on PC, Lap-Top, Tablet and Phone.

So what’s your value proposition?

As ever, thank you for reading this blog post.

Philip

Fake It Till You Make It

Act the Change!

Let me begin with a question; how do you feel right now?

The answer of course for each of us is unique to us. The ‘right’ answer if there is one is that the most natural feeling is one of total and absolute one-ness, inner peace if you like to call it that.

Too often we ignore this one-ness feeling and see the world as a mirror image. We put the material features of our lives ahead of our inner feelings. “If I can get the better job, the bigger car, the bigger house I can look important and I can be somebody”. These may not be the actual words going through your head but probably something similar is.

FINNA Ethos is about being content, about having enough but not more than you need, this will lead to a life of one-ness, of being content with yourself, with those around you and with the things you own. But, it’s very important, I cannot say just how important to say that the things you own are transitory, important in the moment but not fundamentally necessary to life itself. They are the things that enable comfort in your life; important but not essential.

The trick…

Move your thinking from GET-DO-BE to BE-DO-GET and you will achieve calm in your life, an inner calm, contentment.

How long does this change take to happen?

Less than a moment, one single heartbeat, yes just one solitary, single heartbeat is all it takes. All you have to do is embrace, make it happen the single most life-transforming mental attitude;

Act like the change has happened!

Crazy idea? Maybe but what do you honestly think?

You believe it, well go and do it, in fact you’re probably not reading this blog, you don’t need to read this blog, stop now and go and be content.

You don’t believe it possible and never will. Stop reading this blog, you don’t need this blog ( I actually think you probably need this blog more than you will ever know but I’m not the person who’s going to convince you that you do need this blog).

Yeah, crazy idea but it might have some legs, let’s see where it goes; If you are this kind of person you probably don’t accept that life is binary, that life is black and white, right or wrong. These are just words in a blog post, no evidence just some faceless crazy telling you how to improve your life and I can accept this as a very valid point of view.

This idea of ‘fake it till you make it’ is just a way of thinking but the first time I came across it I just thought WOW, how can this work for me? And then in a heartbeat realised all I had to do was believe it and then act it and that was it. So when I want to change something I act as if it’s already happened. Using this method I’ve repaired old friendships and developed new business with companies that previously we would never thought to have approached.

Thoughts of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ are not part of the equation. The reality is that by thinking that its possible I then do it.

But hey does this mean that we will always get what we want? No, of course not. It’s a frame of mind that keeps us positive in thought and being positive pays-off. We’re healthier, we recover more quickly, we bounce-back from negative outcomes, we develop new relationships, we make more friends, we recover more lapsed relationships…

BE-DO-GET

Experience; what we know from what has happened in the past. This will colour our views and opinions. It will significantly determine how we see the world.

Knowledge; what we know from what has happened to us in the past…

Imagination; reality is what we imagine it to be because we load our lives with emotional intensity. Our imaginations determine how we feel and how we feel determines what our future experiences and knowledge will be.

Imagine a positive future and sure enough the future will look immediately better and brighter. By visualising a future state that we want, that brings us contentment our minds map the journey we have to take, we will be armed with a plan for achievement. We allow ourselves to explore our realities in ways that lead towards being content with life, outcomes and achievements’.

Thank you for reading this blog post.

Philip