Managing Complexity: Train Your Brain

Every project is unique. Circumstances are always different. Different people. Different goals. To lead a project, or organizations in general for that matter, to success, you need to tailor your approach to the situation. To be able to do this you got to have a flexible mind. One that can switch from one world view to another; one that can use one set of assumptions right now, and an entire different way of thinking in a couple of minutes.

Photography by Erikogan.

Adaption to change is in your head.

The key is the mind.

Let go of predefined ideas of how the world should work, and you will be able to change your views. And change them fast.

Think about a situation in terms of communism. Think about it in terms of free market.

A different mindset provides different insights. You will not be able to predict the future, but you will get a more holistic perspective on matters. One that will bring you closer to the truth than using tunnel vision.

The mindsets, the metaphors in your head, are a very powerful tool. They really do affect reality in a sense that they effect the decisions and behavior of the people that hold them. People can talk about projects as if they are conducting a war. They are using words like “marching orders” and “the troops”. If a Project Manager has a mindset like this, war as a metaphor, his mind is thinking in friends and foes, allies and enemies. You are either with him or against him. This view of the world will make it very difficult to collaborate with this person if you disagree.

However, a really good metaphor makes you think anew about things that have been over-thought.

We hope that the Fish Pond as a metaphor for organizations operating under change, can assist you in training your brain to be more flexible. The Pond lets you see situations from different perspectives.

A Fish Pond is many things.

It is a hole with water in your garden in which during cold and hot days, the layering of water changes. Is there a suggestion that we may need both flat and hierarchal organizations?

It is a small ecosystem with fish and plants. Different inhabitants, all connected. Does “Global Village” ring a bell?

It is a school of fishes swimming together without a manager. Why don’t they need overhead?

It is water flowing through a pond providing fresh oxygen. The oxygen is like trust running through organizations. What’s the purifying filter?

A pond is many different stories.

You should not train your brain with only the Fish Pond Metaphor. More views is better. But you have to start somewhere. Why not with a pond?

Bas de Baar, blogging as “The Project Shrink“, is taking his message to the International Project Management community with a vengeance: “Projects Are About Humans. Now Deal With That!”


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