By Charles Bezerra. Is it possible to do more with less? This is a question that always comes to our minds when our organizations face challenges, or when we perceive uncertainties in the market. But, maybe this is the wrong question, or at least, an easy question, because, fundamentally, we all know that, in most of cases, we can do more with less.
Science shows us that we don’t always need something more to get something more. As the great Murray Gell-Mann explains “this is what emergence means – life can emerge from physics and chemistry plus a lot of accidents; the human mind can arise from neurobiology and a lot of accidents”. The general rule in complex adaptive systems is the idea that the output is more than the inputs, and complex behaviors and patterns, in fact, arise from a multiplicity of relatively simple and fundamental interactions.
The problem is that the broadly accepted linear-mechanists worldview, which brought us the concepts of specialization and scale, is not helping us to think this way. Most of us seem to be following this less effective logic – we think that to do more, we need more people; to do it better, we need more time; and to do it more quickly, we need more stress. Unfortunately this logic is making us work increasingly more, but with a feeling that we are accomplishing increasingly less.
Our perception of causality is also very limited. Typically when we consider an issue or a problem in our organization, we tend to be extremely reductionist in our perception regarding its causes. For example, the first cause that generally comes to mind is the process; we think “someone didn’t follow the process”. But if we really want to understand more deeply, we should consider all the events linked to the problem – such as the motivation of the team, the design of the process, the training of the people involved, the environment, the technology, cultural differences, and so on.
As hard as it sounds, an Innovation Culture is not something that can be totally prescribed, planed or controlled. It is something that emerges from complex interactions between many dynamic agents, protocols and environment. The great challenge for the leaders of today is to understand and appreciate the insecurity of the present moment, so they can perceive the totality and flow of their organizations. This is something that farmers seam to know far more about than executives.
Maybe the real question is not if its possible to do more with less, but if we are prepared to completely change the way we think, giving up the illusion of control, and instead focusing on the fundamentals and embracing the uncertainties and flow of life. Are we ready to do more with less?