Poison Ivy and Itchy Bits

March 19, 2009

This week I am at Yale for our company’s executive leadership skills class. I affectionately refer to it as reprogramming, but the experience has been both interesting and insightful. Today one of our professors, Jeff Sonnefeld, had to break during our class to be interviewed on national TV – CNBC. These things just don’t happen every day.

But beyond this, two events stick out thus far. The case study of Enterprise Rent-a-car and Hertz, to me, was almost an exemplar for the adoption of the principles and insights emerging from complexity science and the first principles of efficacious adaption listed by Bill McKelvey. Unfortunately, this greater insight was lost on both the teacher and the group. Instead we learned about the differences in their respective strategies (hiring, positioning, etc.). The overarching concept of how Enterprise applies light constraints and attractors to drive effective adaptation and ultimately enhanced market share and higher profit – totally lost.

Your thoughts and insights appreciated… personally, I hadn’t had much reason to consider the industry until this class, but based on what I learned I think Hertz’s local strategy is somewhat doomed to marginal success.

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The Cynefin Company (formerly known as Cognitive Edge) was founded in 2005 by Dave Snowden. We believe in praxis and focus on building methods, tools and capability that apply the wisdom from Complex Adaptive Systems theory and other scientific disciplines in social systems. We are the world leader in developing management approaches (in society, government and industry) that empower organisations to absorb uncertainty, detect weak signals to enable sense-making in complex systems, act on the rich data, create resilience and, ultimately, thrive in a complex world.

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