Exploring new territory

We’re all trying to make a difference. There’s a lot to do. Operate the business today. Evolve the business for the future. And navigate changing demands from customers, markets, technologies and people.

The question is how we get it all done. Lots of moving parts mean plans and solutions are uncertain. People have different priorities and are hard to engage. We’re busy, but not having enough impact. Something is missing.

The challenge is this. We humans like working with boundaries. We find work we like, and we get good at that. We leave others to do the rest. We build whole businesses like this, in sections. It’s not perfect – there is friction between the differences. But we learn to cope and it becomes ‘business as usual’.

When business as usual isn’t enough, we create projects. We bundle up parcels of innovation or change to make a difference. Projects still have to operate across boundaries, so now there is friction from the different views, and from the change. Progress is … mixed.

And now even this mixed approach is under pressure. With technology we have created a hyper-connected, shifting world. We work across boundaries all the time, and things rarely relax into business as usual.

Work is stretching us out of our comfort zones. Organised businesses have to get creative. Creative businesses have to get organised. We often need to be organised and creative at the same time. Weaving the two together to handle shifting demands and still move forward.

This requires us to release our grip on what has worked so far, and move into new territory.  To handle new choices and build new solutions, we need more robust and flexible ways to make decisions and solve problems.  That will feel confusing.

“We can’t be creative if we refuse to be confused. Change always starts with confusion; cherished interpretations must dissolve to make way for what’s new.”
Margaret J. Wheatley

Making new sense

It gets confusing because of the way we humans are wired. We like patterns and short cuts. It’s how we learn to walk, talk, drive, play sports, answer emails, run reports and meetings, and a thousand other things. We operate on autopilot for large chunks of our day. It’s really efficient.

Except. Our autopilot scans fast, so we can react fast. And it dislikes some things intensely. Ever read an unwanted email and felt your heart beat faster? That’s your autopilot reacting. Your body starts pumping chemicals that make it easy to stress and argue, but hard to think straight.

Our autopilot has very sensitive alarms set for things that don’t fit its patterns. And work is creating lots of those right now. We need to think clearly and creatively to make new sense of tough challenges. But our autopilot’s reactions make that harder. Especially when we are working across boundaries, with different patterns and triggers.

Most of the time we just cope and battle through the confusion. But that’s slow, stressful and unreliable. There are better, easier ways to make new sense of things.

I’ve been exploring, experimenting and sharing this for 20+ years now. There’s a lot of research and practice out there to help us get creative under pressure. To handle new territory. And the same core principles keep showing up.  Smart ways to handle situations, other people and yourself.  Let me show you how they work.


My name is Alan Arnett.  I’m a seasoned guide for people and businesses making new futures happen.  I show you how to handle joined up decision-making and problem solving for our digital age, so you can build clarity and make progress.

Contact me to ask about:

Swapping ideas over coffee.

Events, workshops or talks for large groups.

A chat to discuss challenges you are facing.

Reviews, where I sit in with you and your team to see you working. Then we agree the focus and where to start.

A coaching package with regular sessions over 6 months, for you or your team.

Tailored solutions for when you merge or partner with other businesses.

You can connect with me below, using the contact form, Twitter or LinkedIn.

“All change, even very large and powerful change, begins when a few people start talking with one another about something they care about.”
Margaret J. Wheatley

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