I am pleased to announce that one of my next idealawg interviews will be of Irene Sanders, author of Strategic Thinking and the New Science: Planning in the Midst of Chaos, Complexity and Change.
[The interview of Irene Sanders posted December 6, 2006]
Sanders is one of the minds in the vanguard of applying the latest in certain areas of science to advantageously guide our 21st-century analysis and action. She recommends nonlinear thinking and teaches people how to stop thinking straight. Since nonlinear thinking is essential in times of change in law firms and in the legal profession, I am looking forward to hearing what she tells us.
Sanders has written about a wide variety of topics. Here are a couple of quotes which can apply to the current and coming changes in the legal arena. From a Christian Science Monitor article "US must invest in science of dot-connecting:"
The science of complex systems has provided new concepts, tools, and a set of questions that can help make sense of messy situations, emerging events, and rapidly changing circumstances.
The model for this way of thinking . . . was born in the mathematical science of chaos theory. In general terms, the challenge before us is to move from an emphasis on simple cause-and-effect relationships to a focus on more intuitive, associative forms of pattern recognition.
Linear thinkers tend to rely on past experience to travel from Point A to Point B. Nonlinear thinkers tend to look for changes since the last time they made the trip. A failure to recognize those changes is why blue-chip giants often get caught off guard by small, innovative companies . . . .
When I talk with her we will look at how this way of thinking can help you in your law firm.
Speaking of minds in the vanguard, Bruce Marcus gave the blogosphere a comprehensive and wise post Are we near the tipping point in professional firm management and structure? about "cascading" change in the service professions (via Gerry Riskin).
The changes in the professions and the way they operate are cascading. The way things used to be, unchanged for generations, are rapidly changing --- and therein lies the tipping point observation. For those not au courant, a tipping point, as defined by Malcolm Gladwell, is the point where obscure and sometimes seemingly irrelevant events tip over into massive and pervasive action. These changes mean that tomorrow’s law and accounting firms will be substantially different from the professional firms of the last 100 years.
Marcus gives several pieces of apt and experienced advice for this age of transition. I excerpt those thoughts most aligned with what Sanders will be discussing:
- [T]hink forward, not backward
- [U]nderstand problems before, not after, you give advice
- Learn what other firms are doing in . . . forward-thinking ideas
- [Q]uestion everything you do. The question you ask yourself is, “This is the way it was done yesterday. Is there a better way to do it today and tomorrow?”
- [B]usiness requires . . . flexible structures to meet the challenges of a dynamic environment
Nice credo, don't you think?
Here's a bonus if you want to learn more about complexity before I
post the Sanders interview. You can read, hear and watch Michael
Crichton's talk "Fear, Complexity, & Environmental Management in
the 21st Century." Watch or listen to Michael Crichton delivering the talk. The transcript is also at that link.
When you click on the pink box on the left to watch the videos, you will see
several movies. They are all segments of the Crichton talk. The first is
the introduction and the last is Q & A. (You can "meet" Sanders
there; she introduces Crichton and closes out the talk.)
I believe it is worth the time to see what Crichton has to say about the value of nonlinear thinking over straight thinking. Learning new ways of thought will protect you from being skewered by the tipping point.