This post by Tanya Reilly describes well the role I regularly have, and what I’ve been talking to a relatively new colleague about to explain how slow and in circles things often seem to move. Side Quests is an apt and more fun description, so I think we should adopt it.

Liked Surviving the Organisational Side Quest

Projects get blocked for reasons that aren’t obvious.

Understanding why can feel like a ridiculous side quest in a point and click adventure game. You need to ask exactly the right questions of exactly the right people before anyone volunteers the one piece of information that will get you closer to the golden idol so you can challenge the Swordmaster to a duel. Or, you know, whatever your local organisational equivalent is.

Chris Corrigan last November wrote a posting “Towards the idea that complexity is a theory of change“. Questions about the ‘theory of change’ you intend to use are regular parts of project funding requests for NGO’s, the international development sector and the humanitarian aid sector.

Chris’ posting kept popping up in my mind, “I really should blog about this”. But I didn’t. So for now I just link to it here. Because I think Chris is right, complexity is a theory of change. And in projects I do that concern community stewarding, networked agency and what I call distributed digital transformation, basically anything where people are the main players, it is for me in practice. Articulating it that way is helpful.

Cutting Through Complexity
How not to deal with complexity… Overly reductionist KPMG adverts on Thames river boats