Everything is Entangled

“All too often we hit the wall for want of a wide-angle lens. It may feel safe to focus on simple metrics, but it’s not. Obstacles, opportunities, connections, and consequences are often revealed only by seeing the bigger picture. There are no closed systems. Everything is entangled from code to culture. That’s why it’s malpractice to design a product, service, or experience without considering strategy.”

Peter Morville, Intertwingled

Let’s start with a chair. A chair sits in a room. A room in a building. A building in a city, a city in a country … you get the picture.

Let’s say that building is a house. The room is a formal dining room. Chances are the chair is a dining room chair. The home owner selected a house with a formal dining room. The type of dining room chair they pick will differ from what they may select for the kitchen.

Stay with the house. The room is a lounge. It might be an armchair. Where is this armchair going to be placed in the room? Does it recline? Is there space for it to recline?

The room is the bathroom. Could be a chair for the shower for someone who can’t stand in the shower. Why did you choose the chair you did?

Even something as simple as a chair, in a room, depends on what you want to do with that room. 

Zoom out a level, which country are you in? Here in Australia we may choose to dine on our deck more often than not, so we don’t want a formal dining room. In the UK, we may not have space and need a dining area with more flexibility.

This simple example seems obvious. However, we do not translate this simple idea into other areas. 

When implementing a new system in an organisation, what “room” does that system exist in? What purpose does it serve in that room? What rooms is it connected to? What furniture needs to move to make way for it? 

A project team will focus on the project scope as they should. 

But, someone needs to be thinking two, three, or more steps away from that project.

What are those second or third order consequences? Where is this leading you?