Adaptive Action: Leveraging Uncertainty in Your Organization

By Glenda H. Eoyang; Royce J. Holladay | Go to book overview

4
SO WHAT?

It is easy to access data in today’s complex human systems. In fact, the greater threat is drowning in available data. Retail businesses have daily sales reports; nonprofits have donor commitment measures; Google can tell you everything you want to know about who visits your website when and where; and Twitter puts people and their 140-character insights at your services whenever and wherever you find yourself. Getting information is not a problem; filtering the important from the trivial, assessing contradictory messages, and making meaning to inform action is not so easy. The second step of Adaptive Action helps you separate signal from noise. It focuses on answering the question So what? and leads you to confront questions that challenge you.

So what patterns emerge from this deluge of data?

So what are the most important patterns I’m seeing?

So what contradictions drive this change?

So what matters to me, to us, to them?

So what opportunities might emerge from the current patterns?

So what surprises or puzzles me?

So what are my options for action, given patterns uncovered?

Meaning making has been a core theme of management and leadership literature for a decade. Peter Senge1 focused on shared dialogue, systems modeling, and archetypal patterns to make sense of complex data. As early as the mid-1970s, Karl Weick2 opened the door to our thinking about meaning that emerges only in the interaction between knower and known. For him, it is in action that meaning is ultimately made. Dave Snowden,3 John Kotter,4 Dick Axelrod,5 Ralph Stacey,6 Brenda Zimmerman,7 and others have explored how to make meaning of the patterns that emerge and dissipate in chaotic human

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Adaptive Action: Leveraging Uncertainty in Your Organization
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Part I- What Causes Uncertainty? What Can You Do about It? 1
  • Why So Uncertain? 3
  • 2- What Can You Do? 13
  • 3- What? 34
  • 4- So What? 66
  • 5- Now What? 84
  • 6- Now What? Again 103
  • Part II- So What Does Adaptive Action Look like on the Ground? 111
  • 7- Adaptive Action in Action 113
  • 8- Capacity Building 123
  • 9- Leading Change 146
  • 10- Working as a Social Act 160
  • Part III- Now What Will You Do? 183
  • 11- Gaps Revisited 185
  • 12- Lessons for What? 189
  • 13- Lessons for So What? 200
  • 14- Lessons for Now What? 209
  • 15- Adaptive Innovation 218
  • Reference Matter 239
  • Notes 241
  • Index 245
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