Connecting Dots 01 / Systems at Play


The economist Adam Smith came to mind as I stood astride a dim zinc bar off Place des Vosges savouring a reliable Rhone red.  Under a flickering Parisian candle the foundational material from module 1 of the EMC at INSEAD flipped by in my notebook. So much mainline knowledge straight from the source to digest, process and practice. 

Smith’s construct of “The Invisible Hand” that drives the economy through rational decisions and irrational actions has shaped the behavioural change focus of my career. Work to help companies create new products, services or ways of working that succeed or fail in the face of resistance from the super rational and conscious schools of logic most of us deploy at work, or at least think we do.

The sketched quote represents a key aspect of our work at INSEAD pioneering the emerging B-school field of systems psychodynamics. By accepting systems as constructs we shape and that shape us we can even more impactfully help leaders, teams and organizations. Typically, we think of the system as an external thing, a sort of machine we can tinker with. Yet systems live within us and are manifest by us; rationally and irrationally. 

Instinctively I always deconstruct the system I’m working in, rationally mapping and strategizing. However, I’ve never really interrogated the system in me, yet it has always been at play. My own invisible hand.

Ask yourself, what comes to mind when you think of the system you work in and the system working in you?

The answer may be a glimpse into your own invisible hand.

Trial & Error

In these newsletters all we’ll do is try to connect a couple dots during my INSEAD journey.  Something that might spark a different perspective in your own work. Comments and questions along the way most welcome. Thank you for joining the journey. Next edition will be later May.

Hungry for more?

  • Immunity to Change a classic that gives “Three Plateaus” in complexity that act as internal systems. 


I’ll be back in Fontainebleau early May. Gothenburg, Toronto, Paris and London before. As well presenting “The Innovation Crisis” at AI Financial Services 2019. Say hi for ☕️.


PS. If you like this newsletter please forward to a friend so we can grow the community. Original post and subscription at Connecting Dots.