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We love information. Especially in times of crisis. Have you ever noticed your tendency to become glued to the television or Internet when disaster strikes? It is human nature to try to gather as much information as possible, to make sense and create meaning when we don't understand what is happening. We seek information for another reason too, control. We operate under the illusion that if we can gain more information, we will not only understand what is happening, we might just be able to control it. I am not suggesting that there is no value to information or to clearly defined reporting and accountability relationships for routine business operations. I am instead calling out the temptation that an information-centred approach to agility offers: there's a desire to settle into the illusion that information will give you control, when in many situations it is simply not possible to gather or process enough information to be
effective when it counts.
Recognizing that there are many situations that you not only cannot control but cannot predict is a radical mind-set and practice shift for most. It requires that you decide whether your goal is to reduce the perception of uncertainty or to actually become more effective in its midst. It also involves more than a simple reconfiguration of the organisation chart and job descriptions. It requires relinquishing the illusion of control that lies at the very foundation of most management training and business practice. This shift is being made in one of the most hierarchical, command-and-control organizations in the country, the United States military. Recognizing the insidious nature of information age strategies and their tendency to lead to either analysis paralysis or the false security of convenient stories, the U.S. military has begun to make a fundamental shift in its approach to VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity), a shift from information to interactions. This change does not begin with restructuring and redeployments but with a fundamental shift in mind-set. In fact, the term. VUCA was first coined by the U.S. Army War College to describe increasingly complex and unpredictable combat conditions." VUCA has become shorthand for the reality of life in the twenty-first century. Most business approaches to VUCA focus on strategies to reduce uncertainty. These strategies tend to centre around gaining greater control, including amassing more and better information,
minimizing risk, and improving planning and analysis. While risk and uncertainty reduction are valid strategies, they do not necessarily make an organization more agile, for two reasons: ( 1) collecting more and better information takes time and may foster the illusion of control and comfort when, in reality, it is impossible to gather all available information in complex, changing contexts, let alone fully analyze and make meaning of, it and (2) planning and analysis are dependent on relatively stable contexts. Another liability of information-centred approaches is that they typically lead to more questions and the need to gather more information to reduce the
uncertainty created by the information already collected. There is an even more significant liability of the information-centred approach to agility: our preconceptions lead us to filter out information that does not align with our expectations. Under the stress of an unexpected challenge or opportunity, our ability to access our higher thinking capacity can be reduced, leading us to fall back on the version of the story we expected. Warnings of terrorist threats before 9/11 and potential malfunctions of crucial components prior to the Challenger space shuttle disaster went unheeded because they did not fit the narrative that was co-constructed by leaders during years of experience and expectation. Agile leaders, teams and organizations know they cannot afford to get caught up in a story. They are instead learning how they might be more effective by focusing on their interactions with one another and with the available information in the dynamic present moment.
Let me emphasize that this is a shift away from an overreliance on information. I am not suggesting you curtail important industry and market data analysis, or take this as encouragement to blindly make decisions when further investigation is warranted. I am
encouraging you to shift away from the false comfort such information can offer, and toward the relational context in which you make sense of it, decide and act. When we make the shift from information to interaction, we may be called to shift more than our relationship to external information; we may need to shift the way we perceive ourselves as well. The agility shift requires that we value our capacity to connect and build relationships over-or at least as much' as-our hard-won expertise. Years of experience, training and credentials are, of course, still valuable. But their value is minimal without the networks to which the skills, knowledge, experience, and resource awareness are linked. In other words, separating the process of "knowing what" and "knowing how" from the process of "knowing who" significantly diminishes agility capacity. The shift from information to interaction values the human system in which all
meaning and action take place. Rather than problematizing this system as non-objective or messy, the agility shift embraces it and engages it more fully. You may not be able to control or predict what happens. but with a conscious, continuous commitment to interacting within your web of relationships and resources, you will be more effective than you ever imagined. The agility shift is first and foremost a shift in mind-set. This mind-set values interactions within the dynamic present moment. It is also a shift from the false comfort of "a plan" to achieving a state of readiness to find opportunity in the unexpected.
Question 7 : With reference to the above passage, what is the author's stand with regard to 'Information'?
The author states in the first paragraph that he writes to call out "the temptation that an information-centred approach to agility offers: there's a desire to settle into the illusion that information will give you control, when in many situations it is simply not possible to gather or process enough information to be
effective when it counts." So, the author considers that there is an over reliance on information leading to complacency in decision making.
The question is " With reference to the above passage, what is the author's stand with regard to 'Information'? "
Choice D is the correct answer.
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