For the past few years, when it comes to doing any kind of work with teams and organizations, I’ve been increasingly drawn to the emergent and turned off by the planned and premeditated. To me, emergent potential is all about the possibility to disarm, reveal, become unapologetically candid, and fearlessly transparent. It is raw and alive. On the other hand, the premeditated feels like an outdated and outmoded clinging to a sense of control-based power that is strategic, transactional, dulling, and suffocating. (more…)Read more
I was in a meeting recently discussing the take down of Harvey Weinstein and others accused of sexual harassment, and the rise of the #metoo campaign. We were freely exchanging opinions about these trends in culture, except for several men who declined to add to the conversation. When I asked them about their thoughts on the matter, and they replied that there wasn’t anything they were willing to add; because, they said, the truth was that they were only allowed to agree with the perspectives already in the room. As much I as prodded to elicit other points of view, they remained firm. They weren’t angry, resentful, or upset about it. They were just unwilling to risk a damn word.Read more
Great poetry and great leadership both have the capacity to open our hearts to the wild immediacy of this very moment. Both have the capacity to arrest our attention into startling contact with the aesthetic beauty and living truth of our shared being. Both have the capacity to create bridges that communicate information and meaning, and – beyond that – to transmit an ineffable aliveness that can touch our deepest longing.Read more
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…)Read more
For me, as a consultant on diversity and inclusion (D&I), “Diversity Work” is a radical call to embrace difference. It is a means of challenging our conditioned patterns, biased views, and unjust practices.
Fundamentally, it is about liberating ourselves from old patterns in order to care more deeply for each other, and creating fairness in our relationships that allow us to discover new and dynamic collaborations.
When I communicate with the companies I work with I assert that legislation and policies are necessary (whether that be new hiring processes or putting cameras on police). But, I am also clear with them that that is not sufficient, because legislation and policies only regulate bigotry, unjust practices, and institutional oppression — they do not end it.
For long term, positive culture change we must include inner transformation to end bigotry and institutional oppression. And there is a crucial orientation we must take, I believe, to successfully support the organizations and people we work with in transforming.
We, as consultants and facilitators, must orient our clients and teams to the interpersonal dynamics in the here and now.Read more
Thanks to Google’s recent analysis of high performing teams, the popular press on leadership and innovation is abuzz with an interest in “psychological safety.”
According to Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson, psychological safety (her term) is present when members of a team or group believe that they will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes.
Google’s research found that psychological safety is key (maybe the key) to high performance, matching Edmonson’s findings that it drives an organization or team’s ability to learn and innovate—particularly for people working in fields that are rapidly changing, uncertain, and ambiguous. (In other words, all of us.)
“Psychological safety” can sound clinical to some—in our work, we understand it as a description of a generative and safe group culture. Therefore, if you wish to improve performance, start with culture design. By designing a more accepting, tolerant, adaptive, flexible culture, you will increase safety, support, and influence the performance indicators you care about.
In order to help clarify what you can do to positively influence the culture you’re in, let’s take a closer look at the building blocks of a psychologically safe culture.Read more
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.Read more
It is quite an election year. We’ve got a belligerent capitalist, a pervy tea party candidate, an insipid moderate, a self-serving woman, and a raving socialist. The polarities are so extreme that violence is bursting out at the seams at Trump’s rallies, and the Bernie people treat Hillary supporters like traitors to the cause. It’s kinda crazy out there.
And yet, it is the most energized election we have seen since 1968. And it is a prime opportunity to use the Integral practice to capture some of the energy, and open awareness to deeper parts of ourselves. How are we supposed to make sense of all this? It’s one thing to be a television announcer and just pose questions, but it’s another thing to try and find a path through the mess—let alone to actually weave genuine conversation or generate some understanding so that you can vote with integrity.Read more
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.
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.)Read more
It’s easy to take evolution for granted when your team is standing at a whiteboard looking at a bunch of colored sticky notes.
But the very fact you have a whiteboard, that you are standing together, and that anyone in the group can move the sticky notes are all clues to the mysterious evolution of work culture and collaboration.
If we care about leadership, governance, and participation, we can’t afford to ignore the role of evolution in collaboration today. But let me back up just a bit.
One of my biggest insights (not an original insight, alas, but still a significant one for me and my clients) was the evolutionary development of culture. It revealed how to include more and make distinctions through increasingly complex perspectives on collaborations.
You might have already heard about Spiral Dynamics, based on the work of Clare Graves. It is a particularly useful outcome from decades of post-modern socio-cultural research and study, giving us the capacity to see aggregate structures of culture or group worldviews, to anticipate how they evolve, and to guide efforts to effectively work with worldviews and help support the healthy expression of each stage.
The worldview of a group influences what the group sees and what it leaves out. What it values, and how it makes meaning of what it perceives. Worldview greatly influences collaboration, because shared meaning is one of the essential ingredients in effective collaboration.Read more