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How to Thrive in Chaos

How to Thrive in Chaos

John F. Kennedy once remarked,

Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.

H. William Dettmer used this quote in an interesting way – commenting,

“In business, successes are usually trumpeted, while failures are normally buried in obscurity. Consequently, it may be difficult to find practitioners willing to advertise that we failed to achieve positive results with – insert name of your chosen methodology of the month.”

Dettmer used this to point out how we blindly use popular management tools and techniques in problem-solving. The problem is that we might be using a technique ill-suited for the environment we are in. So, how can we identify our environment in order to apply the right tool? One way to do this is to use the Cynefin framework.

A Sense-Making Framework

    Developed by Dave Snowden (not Edward Snowden!), the Cynefin framework is a conceptual way to assist decision makers in making decisions. The word Cynefin (pronounced KUN-iv-in) is a Welsh word for habitat. Dettmer informs us that it is a way to help us visualize and understand how systems operate within a variety of domains. Let’s take a look at how he describes this framework.[1]

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    The external environment describes a continuum from ordered to unordered. The continuum is further divided into general contexts, or domains. It is a sense-making framework helping us make and understand where a system exists among the domains. It helps us identify the correct tools, approaches, processes, and methods that are likely to work in a given domain.

    It is not intended to categorize as most categorization matrices imply some value judgement about which cell is better. No one cell is more valuable than the other.

    Five Domains of the Cynefin Framework

      The Cynefin framework is essentially five domains, where four are associated with environmental factors or systems – the fifth domain touches the other four.

      1. Simple
      2. Complicated
      3. Complex
      4. Chaotic
      5. Disorder

      We can use this framework to identify the state of our knowledge and the state of available information. Another way to look at this is by identifying the state of what is certain to what is uncertain. An understanding of this will assist us in determining which domain we exist in as an organization.

      1. Simple

      In the Simple domain, systems are stable and we can see clearly the cause-and-effect relationship. Little uncertainty exists in this domain and we are able to make decisions by simply categorizing things.

      State of Knowledge and Information:

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      • The information is available and we have it.
      • As an organization, we have asked questions and have found the right answers.
      • The “right” answer is easy to identify.

      Example of this domain:

      • Government departments

      Tools to use in this domain:

      • Typical top down command and control system where employees follow a simple standard operating procedure.

      2. Complicated

      This is the domain of experts. In the Complicated domain you will find that there is no single “right” answer. Dettmer informs us that the philosophy of continuous process improvement is rooted in this domain.

      State of Knowledge and Information:

      • We know the information we need, but we don’t have the answers.
      • We have asked but have not received an answer.

      Example of this domain:

      • Auto-manufacturing

      Tools to use in this domain:

      3. Complex

      The best way to determine if you have a Complex or Complicated system is to figure out if you have an emergent or complex adaptive system. Dettmer points out that a complex system will have large numbers of components or agents interacting (as well as learning and adapting).

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      State of Knowledge and Information:

      • The information we need is out there somewhere, but we don’t know what we’re looking for.
      • We have not asked, but the answer is out there.

      Examples of this domain:

      • Stock Market, Insect Colony, Insurgency

      Tools to use in this domain:

      4. Chaotic

      This is the realm of the unknown. Here you will find that possessing an understanding of cause-and-effect is almost useless. Dettmer informs us that the recipe for disaster is to wait for patterns to emerge (thus failing to act). In this domain, decisions must be made with no time for reflection. This is also the domain for “moonshot thinkers” and for those who seek to completely destroy (not in a negative way) or change a system or organization.

      State of Knowledge and Information:

      • We don’t know what we don’t know.
      • We have not asked because we don’t know what to ask.

      Example of this domain:

      • Attacks of September 11, 2001

      Tools to use in this domain:

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      5. Disorder

      The fifth domain is Disorder – which touches every other domain. This is the realm of the unknown. An organization can slip into this domain at any point in time and from any domain. It is also extremely difficult at times to recognize if you are in this domain. Dettmer provides the following advice if you find your organization has slipped into this domain,

      “The way out of this realm is to break down the situation into constituent parts and assign each to one of the other realms. Leaders can then make decisions and intervene in contextually appropriate ways.”

      Flow of Ideas

        Dave Snowden, developer of the Cynefin framework, discusses the dynamics an organization goes through within his framework and provides the following advice. [2]

        • To enable the partially constrained flow of ideas, we need to ensure there is good connectivity within the organization, but without central control. Leaders need to stand above the system but not engage with it.
        • As coherence starts to clump, we then shift by recognizing the structure and process of our organization.
        • A pattern of destruction to enable rebirth should be built into your system. After a period of time we should break up the formal group allowing a new knowledge to be created. We should break all links allowing new links to form.

        This last point is the one that struck me the most. I thrive in chaos and love to create new things. When I see destruction, I see it as a good thing. I see it as a paradigm shift and a way to bring forth something radically new.

        This brings to mind a couple examples that could use complete destruction, thus bringing about a paradigm shift in the way we think about them. The first one is that of climate change. The second is a topic I write about extensively – the foster care system. We need to completely destroy how we think about the two and how we operate within them.

        Lastly, I will leave you with Albert Einstein ‘s advice,

        We shall need a substantially new way of thinking if humanity is to survive.

        Featured photo credit: By Akshat Rathi via qz.com

        Reference

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        Dr. Jamie Schwandt

        Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

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        Last Updated on November 20, 2019

        How to Measure a Goal? (With Examples of Measurable Goals)

        How to Measure a Goal? (With Examples of Measurable Goals)

        Everyone sets goals. Whether they are daily goals like completing a project, personal aspirations like traveling the world, or even workplace targets, setting a goal isn’t enough to get you over the line unfortunately. This is why only eight percent of people achieve their goals.[1]

        So how do the high achievers do it?

        By setting measurable goals, keep track of them and progress towards these goals.

        To help you out, I’ve put together a simple guide on measuring goals. I’ll show you a SMART framework you can use to create measurable goals, and how you can track its progress.

        To begin, let me introduce you to the SMART acronym.

        What Is a Measurable SMART Goal?

        SMART stands for Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. They help set clear intentions, this way, you can continue staying on course.

        When you’re writing a SMART Goal, you need to work through each of the terms in the acronym to ensure it’s realistic and achievable.

        It’ll help you set specific and challenging goals that eliminate and vagueness and guesswork. It’ll also have a clear deadline so you know when you need to complete it by.

        Here’s what SMART stand for:

        Specific

        Your goals need to be specific. Without specificity, your goal will feel much harder to complete and stick to.

        They should also have a specific outcome. Without the outcome, it will be hard to focus and stay on task with your goals.

        I can’t stress this enough. In fact, two researchers Edwin Locke and Gary Latham, found that when people set specific yet challenging goals, it led to increased performance 90 percent of the time.[2]

        Here’s an example of a specific goal:

        Increase sales by 10% in 90 days. 

        Measurable

        You need to be able to measure these goals.

        Examining a key metric and quantifying your goals will help track your progress. It will also identify the mark at which you’ve completed your task.

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        Measurable can mean many different things, but generally speaking, you want to be able to objectively measure success with a goal.

        Whether it’s via analytical data, performance measures, or direct revenue, ensure your goal is quantifiable.

        Achievable

        Why do you want to reach this goal? Is it important for you or your organization?

        Once you identify the key benefit, add that into your goal, so it helps your team members understand the importance of the goal and how it contributes to the bigger picture.

        Relevant

        Why do you want to reach this goal? Is it important for you or your organization?

        Once you identify the key benefit, add that into your goal so it helps your team members understand the importance of the goal and how it contributes to the bigger picture.

        Timely

        This is one of my favorite parts of SMART goals….setting the deadline.

        The timeframe will create a sense of urgency. It functions as a healthy tension that will springboard you to action.

        Examples of Measurable Goals

        Now that we know what a SMART goal is, it’s time to help you make your own SMART goal.

        Let’s start with the first step: specificity.

        Specific

        A specific goal should identify:

        • What’s the project or task at hand?
        • Who’s responsible for the task? If you’re breaking the task down, who is responsible for each section?
        • What steps do you need to do to reach your goal?

        Here’s a bad example:I want to have a better job.

        This example is poor because it’s not specific enough. Sure, it’s specific to your work, but it doesn’t explain whether you want a promotion, a raise, a career change, etc.

        What about your current job do you want to improve? Do you want to change companies? Or are you striving for more work-life balance? What does “better” really mean?

        Let’s transform this into a good example.

        I want to find a new role at a Fortune 500 company that improves my current salary and work-life balance.

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        If you’re not too sure what the specific outcome should be, you can use mindmaps to brainstorm all the possible options. Then choose a few or one from the mindmap.

        With the example above, to become a better growth marketer, I have to explore different learning options like online courses, blogs, books, or in-person courses before I made a decision.

        Measurable

        Goals need to be measurable in a way where you can present tangible, concrete evidence. You should be able to identify what you experience when reaching that goal.

        Ideally, you should go for a metric or quantity as quantifying goals makes it easier to track.

        Here’s a bad example:

        I will get a promotion at work for improving quality

        Here’s a good example:

        I am going to land a promotion to senior VP by improving my work quality. When I say work quality, I will measure this by projects completed, revenue earned, and success factors important to my superiors.

        If you’re having difficulty measuring your goals, you can use a goal tracking app. They’re a great way to measure your progress, especially if it’s time-based.

        In addition, I love to use the following strategy to keep myself accountable and ensure I’m hitting goals:

        Reminder emails.

        I schedule emails to myself asking for measurable data on my goals, and even CC others to hold me accountable.

        For example, if you work with a team, CC them on your email to keep yourself honest and on-track.

        Here are five methods you can use to measure your progress towards the goal:

        1. Keep a record – Have you recorded all your actions?
        2. Assess your numbers/evidence – Are you breaking your commitments?
        3. Create a checklist – Can you simplify your tasks?
        4. Stay on course – Are you moving forward with your plan smoothly?
        5. Rate your progress – Can you do better?

        Achievable

        When it comes to being able to achieve your goals, you should stick to Pareto’s principle. If you’re not too sure what it is, it’s the 80/20 rule.

        Don’t just attack and go for everything at once! Pick things that give you the most results. Then, work on the next objective or goal once you’ve completed your first ones.

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        Here’s a bad example:

        To get more work-life balance, I will examine all factors of my work and how to trim down the time I spend on them.

        Here’s a good example:

        This week I will record my time spent on projects to analyze the amount of revenue or success they generate. Projects that fall short of production will get less time and resources than others. 

        Relevant

        It’s always important to examine your goal to ensure it’s relevant and realistic to what you’re doing.

        This is where the bigger picture comes in.

        Here’s a bad example:

        I want to be promoted to CMO because I need more responsibility.

        In this case, it’ll be unlikely for you to receive a promotion if the purpose and reason behind your goals are not strong.

        Here’s a good example:

        I want to be promoted to CMO because I enjoy digital marketing. I’m currently excelling in X, Y, and Z digital marketing practices, and I believe that via a promotion I can further grow the business via X, Y and Z.

        The why will help you grind out in moments when you just want to throw in the towel, and also provide more purpose for your goals.

        Timely

        And…finally we’ve hit the deadline.

        Having a due date helps your team set micro goals and milestones towards the goal.

        That way, you can plan workload throughout your days, weeks, and months to ensure that your team won’t be racing against the clock.

        Let’s start with a bad example:

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        I’m going to land a new promotion this summer.

        Now, let’s turn this into a great example:

        Within the next month I will increase marketing revenue by XX%. Then, within three months I will expand the digital team, hire two new employees and scale it. Within five months I will leverage this success into a new role.

        So that’s how you create a measurable goal.

        Here’s a summary of the example above in the order of its acronyms.

        Overall Goal: I want to transition into a new role with a reputable company.

        • S: I want to find a new role at a Fortune 500 company that improves my current salary and work-life balance.
        • M: I am going to land a promotion to senior VP by improving my work quality. When I say work quality, I will measure this by projects completed, revenue earned, and success factors important to my superiors.
        • A: This week I will record my time spent on projects to analyze the amount of revenue or success they generate. Projects that fall short of production will get less time and resources than others.
        • R: I want to be promoted to CMO because I enjoy digital marketing. I’m currently excelling in X, Y, and Z digital marketing practices, and I believe that via a promotion I can further grow the business via X, Y and Z.
        • T: Within the next month I will increase marketing revenue by XX%. Then, within three months I will expand the digital team, hire two new employees and scale it. Within five months I will leverage this success into a new role.

        But before we finish off, I want to leave you with a note:

        If you want to ensure you reach your goals, make sure you’re accountable. Ensure that you will stick by the goal and deliver the results that you want. Because sometimes, the goal might not just be for you. It could be goals for your clients, customers, and even loved ones.

        For example:

        Here, Housecall Pro promises customers that they grow up to 30% in one year.

        By placing that statement on their landing page, they’re keeping themselves and their goals accountable to their customers.

        For personal goals, tell your friends and family.

        For professional goals, you can tell your peers, colleagues, and even your clients (once you’re ready).

        Bottom Line

        So to wrap things up, if you want to measure a goal, be SMART about it.

        Start with a specific outcome in mind; make sure it’s measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely to your existing schedule.

        While 92 percent of people fail to reach their goals, you can be the exception.

        Reach your goals by setting targets and objectives together.

        More About Goals Setting

        Featured photo credit: Green Chameleon via unsplash.com

        Reference

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