Add Randomness to the Mix

for organizations


c.os.org.fuse.02

This Domain-Level Guide is designed to be used based on the Core Model. Please refer to the Add Randomness to the Mix Core Practice before exploring this guide.

overview

In a world that aims for predictability, following plans, and achieving predefined targets, randomness seems undesired. Randomness seems to increase risk and reduce your ability to plan ahead.

But randomness is essential to forming surprising Fusions. Effective Fusions cannot be engineered based on what is expected and known. It is the unexpected sources of inspiration that create the most innovative ideas. Adding random elements can create value where predictable setup and actions cannot.

guide

Mix Teams, Projects, Setups, and Activities

In the organizational context, many aspects are pre-planned and often constant (or at least stable). From the team structure to its responsibilities, from your location to the projects you are part of.

Any anomaly created in these stable aspects, mainly if randomly generated, can break routines, make people more alert and observant, and be the basis for unexpected Fusions.

  • Consider each planned or expected aspect of your work and add a random or unplanned element to it, even if temporarily.
  • Avoid considering “what would work best.” To the extent possible, don’t engineer the random element in advance. That is the beauty and power of randomness.
  • Continually mix things up — don’t make it a one-time event.
Throw In Random External Influences

External inputs explicitly and implicitly affect your work and the organization as a whole. It seems like you cannot control them, as they are external, but in many cases, you make a conscious or unconscious decision regarding which external influences to consider.

Letting in random external influences can trigger new ideas and insights in the context of your work and what you aim to achieve.

  • Identify the types of external influences in your activities.
  • Take each of these types and add a random element to it.
  • Your goal is not to ignore the existing influences but to add additional sources of inputs.
  • Consider new types of external influences beyond the ones that already affect you.

examples

Example 1

During the development of a product, the team often takes a prototype to selected potential users to get feedback and gain insights that can affect the product’s design and functionality. The mixture of people in these groups is often derived from a conscious analysis of the product’s potential users.

Adding some level of randomness — going beyond the natural profile of users as you perceive it — might throw in new kinds of feedback to the mix. Maybe they will be less relevant, but some of these insights might shed new light on the product or what you aim to achieve.

Example 2

Whether your team is distributed or working in one shared space, their location doesn’t typically change. Taking work to a different location, even if for a limited amount of time, is a perfect way to turn off the auto-pilot and experience work differently.

The sights, the sounds, and random interactions in a new location all contribute to this experience. But more than that, they can blend into the work you do and affect it. Any such element in the new setup can trigger new ideas or new ways of seeing the challenges you face.

Example 3

Organizational teams are often predefined and stable. Each team has a specific responsibility and scope of work, and the mixture of people in the group is carefully planned to support its goals.

Mixing teams, or in the less extreme version, just adding temporary guests to the team, is guaranteed to trigger new perspectives and insights. People who are not accustomed (nor bounded) to the habits, practices, and way of thinking of the team can create positive disruption and create a whole new mental playground to play in.

related practices

further exploration


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