Book Progress – Week of March 5, 2018

We made a public commitment to share what we had done on the book each day, starting on Wednesday March 7. This week’s updates start on Thursday, but shown in reverse order for easier reading.

Sunday, March 11

Michael – Michele’s reflections on Maslow from Saturday’s entry got me thinking about him, too, as well as what she was pointing out: that self-actualization is our default state. I recalled the connection between Maslow and Clare Graves; this book owes a great deal to the research of Graves, the psychologist at Union College whose decade plus study of his adult students led to the findings of what came to be known as “Spiral Dynamics,” which in turn is a core part of the Integral altitudes, and also of Frederic Laloux’ important work on “reinventing organizations.” Graves was a contemporary of Maslow, and the two were colleagues, even seemingly friends (per Graves book The Never Ending Quest). Graves was inspired by Maslow’s thinking, and it deeply impacted his own research.

The first six developmental levels in Grave’s theory (including what we call Amber, Orange, and Green), he termed ‘deficit’ levels, like Maslow, because we are meeting our own needs (Maslow’s first four), not being driven from our life’s purpose. At the seventh level – what Laloux terms Evolutionary-Teal – we are finally centered in fulfilling our purpose, in self-actualizing. Graves saw the Teal level and beyond the second-tier. We could say that the Evolutionary-Teal organization — with its self-organization, its inner rightness as compass, its striving for wholeness, and its wisdom beyond rationality – is the first type of organization that nurtures us as human beings in our default state.

To quote Laloux: “With fewer ego-fears, we are able to make decisions that might seem risky, where we haven’t weighed all possible outcomes, but that resonate with deep inner convictions. We develop a sensitivity for situations that don’t feel quite right, situations that demand that we speak up and take action, even in the face of opposition or with seemingly low odds of success, out of a sense of integrity and authenticity,” p. 44. Laloux calls this inner rightness as compass. In Teal thinking, making decisions based on this inner compass is a perfectly valid approach, whereas in an Achievement-Orange world, it would be seen as fuzzy-headed.

Laloux summarizes this fundamental mind shift: “instead of setting goals for our life, dictating what direction it should take, we learn to let go and listen to the life that wants to be lived through us,” (p. 45, emphasis mine).

Putting this together with what Michele is calling “power partners,” people that help catalyze us into our higher self; the Evolutionary-Teal organization could be structured to bring such power partners together, and then to create practices and organizational support for the fulfillment of its members purpose, all in alignment with – and in service of – the organization’s purpose. In making such a shift of focus, we can’t see organizations as machines, as the Achievement-Orange paradigm does, but rather as living systems, co-creating a world with us partners.

Michele – Today I spent time organizing my thoughts and writings of the ‘IT/Practices and Behaviors quadrant in service of Product Development and Innovation. As we move up in the altitudes we begin to take more and more perspectives, just as in other quadrants. We mostly hear about the need to be customer-centric, but that is insufficient because it doesn’t consider the needs of the organization itself. Organization-centric practices focus on internal and external drivers of change. Brand-Driven Product Innovation is an organization-centric approach that puts the brand at center and considers the brand qualities for all the various stakeholders: customer, marketing, the product, the organization. The Brand-Driven process goes back and forth from internal to external to consider all change drivers. More to come another day. Tonight’s Post will have to be shorter because I am falling asleep! This is quite the accountability and vulnerability process.

Saturday, March 10

Michele  –  Abraham Maslow, one of the most famous psychologists of the 20th century, is most known for his idea that people have a hierarch of needs.   Physiological – fundamental survival;  Safety – stable, secure; Belonging & Love – feeling worthy, wanted; Esteem – need to value ourselves through individual achievement and recognition from others.  Maslow refers to these as ‘deficit’ needs because they are states in which people are seeking something that is lacking for them.  When people’s ‘deficit’ needs are met they are then able to move to the next level of development which is self-actualization.

Self-actualization is characterized by such things as: being guided by our own inner purpose and values; accepting of ourselves and who we are as well as accepting others; deep sense of an appreciation for life; freely express emotions; form deeply connected relationships with others, and effective in how we perceive reality.   Self-actualization is the place where people are at their best.

But there is another big idea from Maslow’s theory, that is less well-known and not talked about much, and that is that self-actualization is the default state for human beings.  It’s who we really are, who we are before we take something away.  We actually start there.  It is the stories we make up about ourselves (Ego) that takes that state away from us. We are already made to self-actualize.  When we begin to “awaken” to a new state, we could step into it and give up the old story, knowing that we already have the power and tools to do so.

When we can write a new story, letting go of the one’s that aren’t helping us anymore, then we are able to move out of Reactive (problem-solving) to Creative (outcome-creating).  When we feel we have reached that “glass ceiling”, it’s breakthrough we are after.

How can we cultivate this?  It’s not going to happen with mindfulness and inner work only, we are integral so this is only part of the equation.  We have to activate this in our life.  One way to do this is to cultivate power partners. Find others who are just as passionate about us reaching our higher self, figure out what breakthrough means for ourselves, and catalyze each other into it.  We all have critical resources to help each other and when we bond together we are much more powerful.


Friday, March 9

Michael – I worked today on the overall book plan – likely a piece of the Preface or introductory chapter, but something to keep Michele and I synchronized (heck, I needed this kind of thing to keep myself synced with myself; adding another person makes it even more critical :-). The book plan has been there before, but needed updating with the innovations we are bringing into the business agility area (organization-centric, society-centric, etc.), as well as the human systems agility side of things, with human and social field theory. We are putting together some exciting, and wildly divergent concepts, and seeing the whole is quite exciting.

I really like this public declaration process. It creates a useful container, public pressure, and a fascination to see what my writing partner worked on today.

Michele –  Moving from Customer-Centric to Organization-Centric…(“IT” quadrant)

The Agile industry mostly thinks about product development in terms of being ‘Customer or User-Centric’. There are several strategic advantages to an organizational-centric approach. Here are a few:

1. Goal setting for everyone in the organization can begin as soon as the high level organizational goals are created. (Boundary Spanning in Practice!)

2. Goals can be linked across the organization with contribution from all voices in the system, allowing for a more comprehensive understanding of all the nuances involved in achieving that goal.

3. High-level goals belong to the organization, not an individual, so they are not affected by changes in staffing or the organizational structure.

4. Employees at all levels know how their work impacts organizational success, so this creates a culture of accountability as well as engagement. (“WE” and “I” are impacted from the “IT” quad work)

5. The focus is on organizational success rather than individual or team success. This is moving the org’s level of development up as more perspectives are being considered and understood.

Thursday, March 8

Michael – I worked today on clarifying the concept of “left-hand” systems thinking. Traditional systems thinking tends to be ITS oriented, focusing on the artifacts of systems, like org charts, workflows, bottlenecks, etc. Left-hand systems thinking (or we could say “systems sensing”, because it may be something we intuit or feel or sense) is concerned with the internal experience of systems, what we pick up in the emotional field (Bowen, ORSC) or the social field (Schwarmer). Starting to clarify the distinctions around the different fields that show up in each quadrant, how we detect or sense each, and what the impact is of each.

Michele – Today I worked on articulating the thinking behind Meta-modernism as an organizational architecture type moving from Post-modernism (ITS Quadrant Lens).  As I was working on this, I found myself moving to the “I” quadrant and thinking about leadership in terms of Meta-modernism and the reality that innovation in technology is moving so much faster than innovation in leadership.  As we have moved from Modern, to Post-modern and now into the Meta-modern era, leadership styles have had to shift. The shift to Meta-modernism is challenging our leadership like never before, because it requires a higher stage of development than where the majority of leaders are at this point in time. Scholars make the point that Meta-modernism involves a transformation of the self, and that it integrates diverse spontaneity and creativity with science and technology to improve organizational performance (Dumitrescu, A. E.). In a Meta-modern organization, creativity and innovation occurs at all levels of the organization and from collaborations with other organizations.  Thinking of Meta-modernism as a stage of development at the Teal level, organizations are engaged in co-creating meaning across all boundaries within an organization, an effort that calls forth an integral mindset. This can only be led be authentic transformational leadership – conscious integral leadership.

Michele Madore
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