Thanks for the opportunity

April 23, 2010

I’m up early this morning and looking out the windows over the grounds of abandoned fireworks factory next to my building in Taipa. The Chinese loons have woken me up at 6 am. Masses of old banyan trees and thick undergrowth with some unfortunate trash and tumbled down metal chain-link fencing. There is a stucco painted wall on the street side as well with the factory name in Portuguese and Chinese. I’ve been told it will be renovated into a park someday. I’m living in the transitional area between a modern high-rise blocks on one side and an historic Chinese-Portuguese village on the other. On the weekends the village is packed with tourists from Hong Kong and mainland China. My part is a short street of junky 4-6 floor walk-ups built sometime between 1960-1980. Its’ quite pleasant and I can easily choose which environment I want by going left or right. I’ve noticed my work colleagues are puzzled as to why I would live here. Primarily, its cheap and it meets my criteria that I need to be able to see trees when I look out the windows.

It is easy with a bit of effort to manipulate an environment to be more advantageous. This is what I’m doing most of the time when I’m working with a group. I’m trying to get them to organize themselves and cooperate with each other so that they achieve their goals more effectively. Do they really need to know that they are being manipulated? Sometimes its best to not draw too much attention to the manipulation. Sometimes its best to bring the group into the process and have them choose the changes to be made. There is no hard and fast rule. The characteristics of the group, its culture, is an important consideration. My experience in Hong Kong is that many times its best not to draw too much attention to any ‘change process’ whereas in Japan its good to make a big deal about the ‘coming change’. The Hong Kong Cantonese prize ‘this is the way we do it here’ and see change as wasteful. The Japanese are constant improvers and like to think they are now ‘doing it better’. These are stereotypes which I’ve made up and they may well be completely different for someone else. This is the danger of listening to only one informant.

I’m off to Hong Kong for the rest of the weekend without my Mac. Thank-you Cognitive Edge for letting me do this guest blogging these past two weeks.

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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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