Organisations are used to risk: they understand it, quantify it, and mitigate it.
What they don’t often do is burn it.
Agile organisations are able to rapidly prototype new ideas and behaviours, able to adapt at speed, because they have an inbuilt ability to question, and an explicit permission to be curious. They understand that having the answer may not be what they need: but that the ability to generate multiple answers may be better.
It’s easy to say it’s fine to fail, but failure often comes at a price. Many cultures are tolerant up to a point. A mindset that makes us quantify and mitigate risk may inadvertently execute innovation.
This isn’t about anarchy, about opening ourselves up to vast amounts of risk, but we do need to open up certain spaces, and to understand and rate the quality of what happens. It’s in the telling of stories that we learn as an organisation what works and what doesn’t, that we build the tacit and tribal knowledge locally, and then loop it back into formal organisational knowledge. And it’s that knowledge which can help us to be agile.
In the Social Age risk is the fuel of change: the trick is knowing how much to throw on the fire.
The blog is on holiday for two weeks: i’m sharing a series of ‘aspects of the Social Age’ until normal service resumes.