Chapter 2. Actionable Strategy

This chapter explores some of the challenges of complexity and the importance of learning and adapting. A four-step model describes how Design Thinking, Lean, and Agile mindsets come together and how you can apply them practically, along with a range of methods, tools, and resources to consider for getting the work done.

The Problem with Complexity

A big challenge for many products and services is that they’re deployed into highly uncertain and complex systems, like our economy, a customer ecosystem, or even a large enterprise. These complex adaptive systems are made up of interconnected but autonomous entities, acting and reacting to one another, without centralized control. Predicting a specific result or outcome in these conditions is incredibly difficult because behavior in such a system is emergent. Although uncertainty is high, there are two characteristics we can be confident about in complex adaptive systems:

They’re unknowable
There are multiple truths, and the system cannot be described from only one perspective or language. That is, nobody really understands everything. And we can’t fully know anything.
They’re intractable
That is, nobody is in control, the current condition emerges, and nothing is predictable.

This means that nobody knows what is going on, nobody can control it, and nobody can predict anything. Then there are humans—just one of the actors in the system—who are famously irrational in the way we behave.1

There is ...

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