Musings on designing experiences & (re)engineering complexity

Nov 2023

A Breathless Viewer

Image of seven Paris of glasses on a table

It’s that time of the year, where many companies wrap up their finances and begin the long slog into contemplative meanderings. Things are no different here, except that when we think about wrapping things up, there is one part, the acceptance of what is and the looking back to what could be.

One of the more interesting aspects of this year has been a concerted effort to improve some of the infrastructure and research and development related aspects of this initiative. Not just jumping into artificial intelligence and machine learning because it’s the thing to do, but jumping into the implications of using these in team, organizational, and personal context. This allows for a lot of introspection at this time of the year, but also a chance to somewhat catch one’s breath.

No matter what lens that you look at this last year around technology, and what it has meant for teams, and organizations to reduce the complexity of what they’re working with, it does seem that there has been more intensity than it has been in past years. And the intensity has not come on the technology side. It’s come on the human side. Where it used to be “pick up this methodology, and then apply it,” or “do these steps alongside this tool, and you’ll get somewhere,“ it’s more like “you can do these changes, but your behavioral changes is going to matter more than any type of tool or methodology that you bring in.“ And that overriding perspective leaves me breathless.

Where I am encouraged at the application of new behaviors and pieces of curiosity that sprinkle themselves into different team formation events. i’m also exhausted. The constant pushing against overly collaborative ideals, theologies of agile, overreliance on the phrase “diversity” without the impact and care of actually being diverse has worn me down. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy helping teams to figure out what it is that makes them work… But the human artifacts that come along with this are begrudgingly, heavy.

So I close this year thinking about what it could look like for this initiative to scale and be impactful beyond the small group of folks who were able to take a part of this re-engineering of complexity, and I’m not sure that there is a good breath that can be given at this moment. Not to say that this adventure is going to close. But parts of it are really out of breath, and maybe even out of sync with what it looks like some of these organizations would style themselves to be.

Glasses are only an acceptance that you have decided to narrow your perspective of the world to what can be focused on in between the frame. In order to re-engineer complexity, in the way that this adventure has stated it would go, it may be time to break out of the frame even more than in times past.

A wrapup of this year’s experiences and experiments will come in a few weeks time. Stay tuned. There are a few breaths left.