Using Complexity Skills to Your Advantage

August 8th, 2012

Why do we buy new software and equipment for our business? We do so because we are looking for an advantage in business. We are looking to do things better, faster, or cheaper.  Every now and then, a business makes physical investments to improve themselves, but they don’t seem to get a full return for what they bought.  Yet, leaders are oftentimes heard espousing things like, “Our company is all about our employees!” or “We get our advantage from the uniqueness of our talent and our culture!”.  These attitudes are not wrong, but imagine if the leaders gave their employees another way to equip themselves?

I think it is due to a phenomenon I call Complexity Skills. To define complexity skills we must first understand that work is done differently today than it was in the past.  The workplace has been forever altered by so many forces.  Today, technology and globalization, government compliance, shifts in social norms, generational influences, acceptance of varying business models, and leadership styles have left so many employees (and frankly leaders of companies) confused on what to label the whole change. I call it Complexity Skills: The ability of an individual or entire company culture to deal with swift and constant change in the business world around them.  If you are in leadership, you understand how envious your peers would be if you could say that your company and employees were the best at re-tooling and changing direction through Complexity Skills.

Ultimately, this is about change; however, Complexity Skills are so much more. Imagine your workforce is equipped to not just serve customers and interact with them, but is also capable of gathering incredible insights into customer wants and needs.  Hints at future products or new features.  Or better yet, the emergence of an entirely new business line.

This is about more than change, but Complexity Skills require the mastery of it.  If you are an employee or a leader today, the best thing we can do is understand and master the art of change.  We have a choice: make it unique and your own or be run over by it.  So much inefficiency and personal angst is spent dealing with, “This is not how we used to do it” or, “This is not how I was told my job would be”.

The concept of Complexity Skills is about intention. Those that get it know that they must focus on being knowledge workers. It is so much more than a popular catchphrase.  Those that stop learning stop growing and start to think they know it all.  Know-it-all’s stop competing.  To be a knowledge worker is to know that knowledge should be equal to productivity.  The more knowledge you have the more confidence and self-esteem the worker or total workforce will have to do interact with customers.

Do you have a high quotient of Complexity Skills?  Does your team?  How about your company?  The only way to get it is to lead the way and work at it.  Know that to have it is an incredible advantage that will be really hard for others to define.  Those that you are competing with for jobs.  Those organizations that are in your “space”.

I have seen teams that have it.  There is trust.  There is understanding.  Complexity Skills go beyond the classroom.  The company has a mindset.  And that mindset defines its culture. A culture with strong Complexity Skills has a defining marketplace advantage.  Yes, it can be all about your employees.  Just give them a different mindset…

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