We help major programmes to navigate a complex and uncertain world
A maieutic mind embraces ambiguity and radical uncertainty by developing an inquiring attitude. The scrutiny and validation of data, rather than the illusion of objectivity and transparency, is what helps the management of complex programmes.
Maieutic comes from the Greek term "maieutikos", Socrates’ approach to developing knowledge by asking questions, thus developing an inquiring attitude. Management and information systems cannot give definitive answers to complex and wicked organizational problems but they can help to raise the right questions when facing complexity.
The MAIEUTIC MACHINE is a set of principles that help programme managers to improve the quality and the maturity of decision-making practices in major programmes in the face of uncertainty.
When confronting unknown-unknowns, managers cannot simply hope that more data will result in the elimination of uncertainty and ambiguity from programme delivery and in improved decision-making. The MAIEUTIC MACHINE shifts the focus away from the mindless pursuit of more data for data sake. It helps you rethinking your current governance, communication, and engagement practices to profit from the collective intelligence in your team and surrounding context thus mediating the inevitable tensions among stakeholders, team members, and emergent challenges.
The MAIEUTIC INDEX provides insights into the quality and maturity of decision-making practices. Programmes often fail because of poor governance and communication processes. However, most of programme management is fixated with measuring outcomes. The MAIEUTIC INDEX instead measures processes to make you reflect on how to improve them in the face of ambiguity and radical uncertainty. It measures the quality and maturity of four systems and processes:
Should be ‘intelligent’ and feed off ambiguity and uncertainty. But they often merely sustain ritualistic compliance and false senses of certainty by ‘window-dressing’.
Should function as ‘townhalls of dialogue and interaction’ by optimising spaces to scrutinise and communicate. All too often, they function as ‘silent ghost towns’ seeking and promoting certainty and suppressing alternative perspectives.
Should occur within ‘clearing houses of ideas’ that depend on the exchange of diverse views. Alternatively, ‘houses of concealment’ close-down new ideas, suppress conflict and amplify prejudices.
Should be fostered on a ‘partnership basis’, motivating and pulling programme stakeholders into meaningful participation on a continuing basis, not a ‘policing basis’, keeping reports and controlling board priorities but the opportunity to profit from collective intelligence.
Undertaking the MAIEUTIC INDEX helps you to understand the maturity and quality of your decision-making across the four areas of governance, communication, mediation and engagement.
The MAIEUTIC INDEX provides insights on how you assess these four areas. If you are interested in how the whole team and various stakeholders assess the governance, communication, mediation and engagement of your programme, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to discuss how to help.