How to Create Change in Complex Situations (Episode 13 of “How Do I Lead Now?”)

Today’s episode of “How Do I Lead Now?” features Cylient CEO Dianna Anderson talking about how to create change in complex situations.

Last week, we talked about how to discern patterns and why it’s so important to identify those patterns in a world that’s so complex and complicated. It’s far more impactful to step back and understand how things connect to create meaningful outcomes. This week, we’ll talk about how to begin to work with patterns of complexity to create change.

Stop Trying to “Fix” Things

The idea that you can create change by “fixing” something is an old, traditional idea that works well when things are really well-contained and confined. However, in situations where there are many factors and many possible outcomes, it’s far better to think about influencing, rather than seeing change as an end product.

What is the intention for the overall change? In an earlier episode, Dianna Anderson talked about the difference between setting intentions versus setting goals. To create lasting change, it’s better to set intentions that inspire people to bring their creativity and the best they can offer to the outcome. As we all know, there is not one clear path to change. We often have to make many decisions along the way. If we’re focused on the intention, it can be easier to make those interim decisions along the way.

Where Do You Want to Focus Your Attention?

Complex change is a lot like untying a whole pile of knots. Think about knots in a garden hose, or maybe a necklace. You step back, look at the entire situation, and then focus on what knot you want to untie first. Changing anything complex is very similar. Step back and look at the whole picture, figure out what influences what, and then decide where you want to focus. What significant change is going to result in much more comprehensive change, or make the biggest difference?

Make the Environment Safe

One of the last things to think about before implementing change is: How are you going to make it safe for the first change to happen? If people do not feel safe, they will not risk changing. When you’re proposing a change, how can you help people feel as safe as possible in making that first initial change? That first small step is critical to create steady ground to stand on before diving into more complex change.

Reflection Questions

Watch the video for some ideas on how to create change. Then, reflect on the following:

  • Is there something you’d like to influence—maybe a question you’re in, or an issue that’s meaningful to you that you can’t figure out how to change?
  • How can you use the points described in the video to see more leverage points for change?

Comment below with your reflections, insights, observations or questions, and Dianna will respond to them.

Other Episodes of “How Do I Lead Now?”

Watch other episodes with the links below.

  • Episode 1: The difference between traditional leadership approaches and coaching-based leadership
  • Episode 2: What kind of leader do I need to be now?
  • Episode 3: How to meet people where they are
  • Episode 4: How to coach someone through fear
  • Episode 5: How to make friends with fear
  • Episode 6: Why the questions we ask and answer for ourselves really matter
  • Episode 7: Why intentions work better than goals now
  • Episode 8: Understanding and appreciating worldviews
  • Episode 9: What to say when you don’t know what to say
  • Episode 10: Using traditional and coaching-based leadership together
  • Episode 11: How to coach people to build confidence
  • Episode 12: Discerning patterns as a leadership skill
  • Episode 13: How to create change in complex situations
  • Episode 14: The problem with perfection

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