• Systems Thinking is the Key to Second Stage Companies

    16 January 2012
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    Want to succeed as a Second Stage company?  Become a master of systems thinking.

    Systems thinking is at the heart of my work.  A Stage 2 company is moving from a Simple System (few parts, simple cause-effect, straightforward thinking) to a Complex System (many interdependencies, complex cause and effect, deeper analysis).  Simple System thinking won’t work anymore…and Complex System thinking needs to be used in doses that start small and get bigger as the company grows.

    Nautilus Shell

    The Nautilus Shell shows the growth of a Complex System - like Second Stage companies

    One of my favorite books for introducing Complex Systems is Once Upon a Complex Time, by Richard Brynteson.  He has assembled a range of 2-page stories that show how things are more complicated than they look at first glance.

    A good example is how he starts his introduction…

    “I could never figure it out.  If my parents really cared about me, they would quit smoking.  They knew that it irritated us kids.  They should just stop doing it.  Just like that!  Now that I have worked with systems thinking, I realize that they couldn’t stop, just like that.  There is the smoking system – the process of lighting up, inhaling, exhaling, and flicking the ashes (and, maybe, coughing).  But other systems also surrounded smoking:  social systems, body addiction systems, emotional systems, thought systems, memory systems, drinking systems…and social systems.”

    If you’re running a Stage 2 company, you could probably go out to any person in your company right now, and read that quote, and that person would be able to replace “smoking” with some bad management practice that is holding them, and your company, back.

    Everyone in the company may even know what it is.

    So, why haven’t you changed it?  Because you’re probably trying to solve a Complex System problem with a Simple System approach.

    Brynteson goes on to explain that systems thinking…

    • Uses a wide-angle lens, not a telephoto
    • Sees connections between parts, not just the parts themselves
    • Sees the patterns and structures underneath events, not just the events themselves
    • Examines time and distance between cause and effect
    • Is circular, not linear, thinking

    At Phimation, our consulting, coaching, and training takes a Complex System approach, and teaches your team how to, so that you can make the major shifts that you need for solid growth and sustainable success.

    I named the business Phimation because that’s the force that enables Simple Systems throughout nature to transform and thrive as Complex Systems.  And Stage 2 companies are a key leverage point for phimation – they are living the transition from Simple to Complex System every day.

    If you’d like to learn more about how to apply Systems Thinking to your Second Stage company, register for our monthly Stage 2 Secrets call.

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