But what if the Future is Terribly Messy?

The future is bright, or so we are told: we strive to transform our Organisations, to unlock new potential, to achieve great things. But what if all we do is make a mess?

The challenge may come because we come from a place of standardisation, conformity, system, process, risk management, and control, and we move towards a place of social co-creation, complex collaboration, distributed leadership, democratised and distributed space, all within structures that are likely to be more agile, reconfigurable, and permeable to expertise.

Most of the former is tidy, and the latter creates a mess: divergent opinions, conflicting understanding, confusion as to where to tread, uncertainty as to what differentiates risk from opportunity, and a loss of those things that we considered stable, permanent, and inevitable.

There are typically two predictable places that Organisations fail as they move away from the tidiness of the past: the first is that they fail to get engagement (because nobody trusts that they really want the mess), and the second is that they get the mess, and freak out about it, reimposing control, and denying the voices that deviate from the established Dominant Narrative.

Perhaps as part of our planning for a more collaborative and invested future, we should consider how we will hear these stories, and how we will feel about the mess. Because if we can come to see beauty in uncertainty, opportunity in non conformity, and power in democratisation and difference, then we stand a chance to win.

About julianstodd

Author and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the Social Age. I’ve written ten books, and over 2,000 articles, and still learning...
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