Agency and Complexity

One of the challenges in managing projects is change. It can be messy and complex, and there is a need to deal with this complexity head-on. Ignoring or pretending it isn’t there doesn’t address the issue sufficiently to understand it or do anything about it.

However, what’s really important is that we can reduce that complexity into simple, clear tasks, with clear owners, outputs, and outcomes. The clear articulation of what needs to be done and the simplicity of the task at hand means it will be completed.

If a task is too complex, onerous, or poorly understood, there are many reasons not to tackle it. But if the task is well articulated, well defined, with clear ownership, accountability, and the necessary resources and support to achieve the goal, then it will likely be accomplished.

Take, for example, the idea of having 52 things to do. It may feel overwhelming, and as a result, none of it gets done. However, if you have one thing to do each week, and you commit to completing it by Friday, by the end of 52 weeks, you can be fairly confident that those 52 things will be completed.

This is the challenge of agency and complexity: turning tasks into deliverable chunks while never losing sight of the big picture. Managing the pieces like jigsaw puzzles and ensuring their delivery, while being aware that all these components need to fit together seamlessly. Someone has to be the architect of this process and must be capable of dealing with complexity, but not everybody does. Some people thrive in messy complexity, while others prefer simplicity.

For those with a preference for simplicity, giving them one task at a time provides ownership, accountability, a sense of autonomy, and mastery. A simple timetable and a sense of achievement when they complete the task are crucial. These individuals are just as important as those who manage complexity; they are the bricklayers to the Taj Mahal. And the Taj Mahal is nothing if all it is, is an architectural drawing. It only becomes a reality because of the relationship between the architect and the bricklayers.

Tim HJ Rogers
Consult | CoCreate | Deliver

I support people and teams to grow, perform and succeed unlocking potential as a partner Consultant, Coach, Project and Change Manager. Together we can deliver projects and change, and improve the confidence, capacity, drive and desire of the people I work with.

ICF Trained Coach | MBA Management Consultant | PRINCE2 Project Manager, Agile Scrum Master | AMPG Change Practitioner | Mediation Practitioner | BeTheBusiness Mentor | 4 x GB Gold Medalist | First Aid for Mental Health | Certificate in Applied Therapeutic Skills

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