Author Archives: Lauren Tenney

Lauren Tenney

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Want to Change? Go Further UpstreamMay 10, 2017

Recently I was hired to work with an intact team whose presenting issue was poor communication, with associated breakdowns in collaboration and decision-making. They knew they “needed to communicate better,” and by all accounts, they were absolutely right. (more…)

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A big ah-ha from the field: Successful self-management depends on this.

Many teams and organizations, especially in the last few years since the rise of Holacracy and the popularity of Reinventing Organizations, are transitioning to self-management—or at least sniffing around the possibility. (more…)

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Increase transparency. Share power. Create self-managing teams. Become a learning organization.

If you’re an evolutionarily-minded leader and you want to embrace the future of work along these lines, how do you do it?

Are all self-managing systems of governance more or less the same, or are some better suited for your existing culture? Is your job to select the “best” (Most popular? Easy to understand?) approach for evolving your team or organization, and stick with it long enough to reap the rewards? (…Is Slack really all you need?)

How do we really change the way people work in meaningful ways?

While it is certainly true that changing the way we organize, make decisions, and share power will influence the way we understand and approach our work together, exterior innovations are only half of the change story—at most. Whether you’re trying to change a life habit or an organization, it’s tempting to orient to change as an exterior problem to solve. If I just do this behavior, things will improve.

Transparency, power sharing, distributed leadership and self management are all behavioral adaptations to complexity. We’ve hit upon these adaptations precisely because the current way isn’t working. But whatever the current way is—it isn’t merely what we’re doing. It’s how we’re understanding; thinking, making meaning, feeling, imagining, envisioning and identifying.

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Leadership Spotlight: Sergio RojasMarch 25, 2016

Sergio Rojas is the Head of Project Management and Business IT for Riksgalden in Sweden. He is also the Chairman of the Global Association of SoL Communities. In this video, Sergio shares a high level perspective on the role of leadership in a globally connected world and the inner skills leaders need to gain to work with fear, conflict, change, and diverse contexts. Sergio is a graduate of Integral Facilitator’s 3-day Next Stage Facilitation Training.

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If there were a word for our chapter in history, it might be “interconnected.” Organizations, teams, movements, individuals, economies, ecosystems. Is there any part of our lives untouched by accelerating connectivity? Our curiosity and imagination—aka, advance into novelty—is weaving us together. And as we get closer, we can’t avoid experiencing the uncomfortable and exciting paradox of our differences and our similarities.

When we bump up against each other, we get more opportunities to delight in the new and different. And we also get more bewilderment, non-understanding, not-knowing or downright conflict. Whether you desire it or not, interconnectedness brings more contact, more friction, and therefore more creative tension.

So, what?

Well, if we add to this observation the findings of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, we get some very compelling implications. Especially for the worlds of work and leadership.

Here’s the Harvard study In a nutshell: “Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.” (That’s a direct quote from Robert Waldinger, fourth director of the now 75-year long study of adult development.)

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Facilitation can set you freeMay 15, 2015

When I facilitate, I’m usually scared. Excited, curious, engaged. But definitely also scared.

Scared of being obtuse and failing to deliver what the group needs. Scared I’ll offend someone. Scared something will happen that I can’t handle and I’ll freeze, revealing my incompetence.

In short, I’m scared I’ll get booed right off the stage.

Standing in front of a group of people is evocative. Whether you love the adrenalin or you hate it, there’s always a spike when you find yourself look out across a sea of faces that are all staring back. At. You.

So I’m just going to come out and say it: people are scary to me. Not all of them equally or in the same way. But in a very real sense (as we often talk about in the Integral Facilitator program) it makes sense that we might be scared of other people—historically, humans were many times more likely to be killed by another human than another predator.

And yet despite the obvious statistical risk of annihilation, I find myself drawn to the practice of facilitation like a dainty moth to its fiery demise.

And that’s not just hyperbole—my “demise” is actually waiting for me on the other side of that threshold of fear. The demise of the scared little Lauren who wants to have all the answers, avoid uncertainty, perform, and be liked.

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This idea should dieMarch 21, 2015

Is there an idea that you think should be taken out of circulation? A commonly held notion that’s holding us back, that’s outdated, or that you wish would just fade out of use, to be replaced by a more helpful idea?

I’m asking (sincerely) because of a podcast I recently enjoyed that was focused on just this topic — “ideas that must die.” (Freakonomics, maybe you heard it?)

Theirs were pretty big—”the universe” (to be replaced by the multiverse), “true or false” (an idea isn’t ever really one or the other), and “data is enough to tell you truths about the world” (the role of intuition in scientific discovery), amongst others.

What I like about the question is how it shines a spotlight on our ideas as…a design choice.

Our assumptions, preconditioned awareness and biases shape our experience and behavior. We stop using outdated tools when they are replaced by more effective ones, so what about the toolkit of ideas we’re carrying around with us all the time?

I also like the question because it’s rascally and iconoclastic. Just asking it feels like blowing a fresh breeze through the stale corners of my mind.

So I wanted to turn the question into a tool for upside-down thinking about a subject I’m interested in. What happens when I start looking for ideas I’d be willing to kill off?

Ok so here we go, a quick and dirty first try.

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“When you can relate to the present moment, make choices and distinctions, and bring those into the collective—that is where the facilitative and the leadership role really meet. When that happens, you’re able to help a group have the capacity to relate to presence and be available to what is emerging. That’s the interface that we’re interested in. That’s where we start to see performance outcomes in organizations, things that are meaningful—greater cohesion, higher performance, more productivity, bigger breakthroughs, and capacity to collaborate across sectors. That’s when we gain greater capacity to work in a multi-stakeholder way with our most difficult-to-solve problems.” – Rebecca Colwell, CEO, Ten Directions

In the midst of a conversation, a meeting, a conflict—what are you available to?

Your team, or the people you’re meeting with right now—how available is this group? And to what?

In your group or organization’s normal habits of functioning, what kind of information and insight is readily available? And what is (kept) out of reach?

Often when we think about the goals and aspirations we have for ourselves and our organizations, we’re likely to think of things like “agility”, “innovation” and “responsiveness.” Sexy goals. Aspirations that embody power, swiftness, capability.

And a lot of people spend a lot of time making assertions about what generates desirable qualities like agility, innovation and responsiveness. Undoubtedly, there are many (some more lasting than others) paths up the mountain.

We value those qualities, too, because when they are present, they usually generate engaged participation and increased well-being—both of which we want to foster more of in the world.

But when we get curious about these desirable qualities, we approach them from a reverse-engineering perspective.

What leads to innovation, creativity, agility, and responsiveness?

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