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  • Dr Richard Barber

Systemic risk intelligence changes the game


Systemic Risk Intelligence is the ability to see, understand and influence the systemic drivers of future performance, as part of business as usual.

It is the systemic point of leverage for leaders who wish to break free of the constraints of traditional management thinking and practice. It transforms the capability of their organisation to perform in uncertainty and complexity, without starting with a major organisational change initiative.

Explained another way, it’s the ability as part of your business routine to see and understand how well your organisational systems are set up now to ensure future success and to make positive changes that get you ahead of the game.

Why is that important?

The evidence is all around us, and it’s in our past experiences of failures and disasters. Far too often, we can see in hindsight that something that went badly wrong could have been avoided. Its root causes could have been seen, understood and managed long before there was a problem.

Our inability to see and manage systemic root causes before a problem occurs tends to hold us and our organisations in a cycle of constant crisis management. It creates work overload and reduces our focus on the future. Worse, we often make changes to how we work that reflect yesterday’s lessons – rather than the emerging requirements of tomorrow.

This puts us behind the game, with an inevitable cycle of avoidable future failures and crises. This can become the norm and the expectation. We start to believe that managing crises well, and learning and adapting from them, demonstrates innovation, adaptability and high performance. Is In a complex world, this is not true. It is false confidence.

As a result, real proactive innovation, change and transformation in performance capability in performance is almost impossible, except perhaps after a monumental crisis that changes all the rules at least for a time.

This is frustrating for leaders trying to enable ongoing innovation, change, agility and improved performance. What they want is to be able to adapt, innovate and even transform how we work, without first having to have a major crisis (or ‘burning platform) that creates so much damage and so much tension that real change becomes possible.

This is where high levels of SRI systemic intelligence make a huge difference. If our SRI is high, we This enables us to can see the root causes beforehand, to avoid future disasters and the cycle of crisis management and work overload. Much Furthermore – we can use lead indicators to build the necessary capability in our organisational systems today to deal with the challenges of tomorrow.

That’s a breakthrough, a step change, in the potential for future performance that is simply not possible while we continue to rely on lag indicators such as traditional outcome and output based KPI to decide when and how we need to adapt and change.

A useful first step is to ask yourself ‘hHow capable is your organisation is right now of adapting and evolving ahead of the game, in sustainable ways that enable high performance?'

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