.: on the frontiers of venturing and venture investing :.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Gettin' it goin' without goin' under: cohesion and incipient instability.

With requisite attention being held a natural propulsion will emerge.  The act of managing and nurturing that propulsion is attended to with a focus on cohesion and being proactively aware of the emergence of incipient instability.

These concepts are addressed in depth in Stafford Beer's viable system model (my reflections here on reading Heart of Enterprise) and are really about holding the tension between future (vision), and here and now (operations) [see last post for more on requisite attention]. Cohesion has a lot to do with articulating purpose as so well described by Collins and Porras in Building Your Company's Vision. And incipient instability is about monitoring trends in financials, plan performance, and relationship status (after all, ventures are systems, concentrated bundles of relationships), and then spotting changes that indicate that something is becoming instable in a way that could harm the cohesion of the system as a whole. 

Again, both of these concepts seem relatively straight forward, and in fact are things that play out automatically in any natural system including ourselves. But as ventures are intentional human constructs we need to be intentional about them for the system to remain viable. On the frontiers, the pressure to focus on 'getting things done' leaves little space for this to happen, and unfortunately the models of doing this tend to come from linear management theory that takes more of an audit and control function which is of little interest to the venturer and begins the dance of storytelling through massaged metrics. Accordingly bringing this into practice needs approaches that are lightweight and constructive - some concepts for which will come in the next post.

(special note: this has been a difficult post to keep short, there are many offshoots and explanations possible in every sentence --- something best explored in conversation and specific context)

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