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Tatiana Correa Lima | Agile CoE director | everis Brasil

Complexity means connection and agility means humanization

Many times we see ourselves facing difficult situations in our jobs. However, the strength to overcome such difficulties can be found in our roots as human beings. When we analyze our history, we observe people’s behavior in today’s companies is similar to behavior of primitive civilizations.

People establish relationships with those they have something in common. Senior management change positions, redefines hierarchy, dismisses people, hires people, but employees still choose who they want to have working relationships, despite structure changes in the company. It simply occurs because this selection, like several other aspects of our behavior, belongs to human nature and no one can change that!

The massive industrialization of products and services created models that were consolidated throughout several years. Such models are focused on meeting the specific needs of dominant classes, deliberately ignoring the human nature of people.

Thus, companies established boundaries. There is the group of people that think and the group of people that act. There are the decision makers and the ones that oppose to such decisions, and so forth.

Since the world is more exposed to uncertainties and highly unpredictable situations, there is no way to disregard human nature and separate the “sheep from the goat.” The usual separations that have been disseminated for many years no longer work. We need everyone to think! This knowledge must be continuously shared with everyone!

Why are models that were efficient in the past no longer bringing results? Before answering this question, we must define each of the terms approached in this text.

System: According to Donella H Meadows (2008), “a system is an interconnected set of coherently organized elements for the purpose of achieving something,” for example: a soccer team.

Complexity (Complex System): According to Melanie Mitchell (2011), “complex systems are those that have elements operating without a central control and present complex and unpredictable behavior, sophisticated information processing, and adaptation by learning or developing,” for example: the brain, an agile team.

Agility: In my own definition of agility, this term means “a way of acting between people, respecting the real nature of unpredictability and constant change of a complex system with the objective of generating value on a regular basis.”

Invalidating traditional models regarding complexity: the definitions above explain why models built on stability and predictability are no longer helping companies achieve results. Melanie Mitchell’s definition shows that in a complex system, the elements (the people) function without central control. This statement automatically overrules executive-based management models that focus on defining medium and long-term strategies for their teams to execute.

Defining early plans for unknown environments is an impossible task. Considering the instability and unpredictability that characterizes the complexity, and the diversity of knowledge disseminated within the company, it is necessary that leaders and people connect so solutions are created whenever problems arise.

In a complex system, every person is important in the system functioning. This assertion invalidates the replication of models and the use of “best practices.” Now, if a solution that a group of people [sic] who work in a certain company was efficient, how can I be sure that it will be efficient in another company, which uses other people, with characteristics completely different from those that belong to the first company?

The connection between people

If working with complex systems is necessary to connect their elements, and if the elements of a company’s system are people, then how do we ensure that people will connect to solve the problems presented?

People connect with each other when it comes to similar purposes and causes they intend to fight for. This connection among people requires trust, which will stimulate collaboration — the fuel for making the system work.

If complexity can be summed up by the need to connect elements and if the elements of the systems are people, we can say that agility can be summarized by the need to humanize company environments. When it comes to human beings, there is no connection without humanization.

Understanding the complex nature is making the difference for modern companies. Rejecting the need to connect people to create sustainable results means denying the nature of complex systems and the people who integrate them.

There is no way of fighting the nature of systems or of human beings!

While complexity means connection, agility can be summed up as humanization!

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