In this article, Jacques Haworth explains Elliott Jaques' model of work complexity, the Matrix of Working Relationships, against the backdrop of the financial crises. Based on the idea of longer timeframes for more complex work, this model provides a springboard for longer-term sustainability within an uncertain and turbulent external environment.
by Jacques Haworth
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jacques has a wealth of organisational consulting experience gained in a wide range of industries from mining to retail. His areas of speciality include assessment, organisational design, organisational development, talent management and strategic human resource planning. Jacques has been with Bioss Southern Africa since 2001.
Complexity and time How long does it take before you can see whether the work you have done results in effective outcomes? Is it a few hours, weeks, months or even years? The model of work complexity in organisations suggests that the answer to this question is an indicator of the level of complexity of the work to be done. The more complex the work, the longer it takes to see whether or not it has been successful. In addition, more complex work will also be accompanied by more uncertainty and risk. This risk relates to whether or not the work will be successfully achieved and also results from environmental turbulence.
Sustainable organisations tend to employ leaders who are comfortable thinking in longer time frames; these are individuals who realise that the results of their work will not be seen immediately and may only be seen in a few years time. These individuals would accept and engage with the tremendous uncertainty and turbulence that accompanies decision making related to work over longer time spans, and would still feel prepared to make these longer-term decisions.