We made a public commitment to share what we had done on the book each day, starting on Wednesday March 7. Here are this week’s updates, in reverse date order.
Saturday, March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day)
Michael & Michele – from the book Introduction
The purpose of this book is to layout a framework that will change the world in its own small way. If the book were alive, it might say that it wants to evoke and condition your thinking, highlight and validate your intuition, amplify your feeling, and give direction and intention to your actions. It wants to transform transformations, because they are currently conceived from a weakened condition. Fundamentally, it wants to stop further ‘suffering.’ The suffering that comes from barking up the wrong tree, from unintentionally misleading people out of our own optimism for what they can accomplish within their current thinking and structures. At the same time, it wants to share the good news that change – even transformation – is surely possible, but at some cost, the least of which is monetary, the most of which is sacrificing many of our own self-limiting beliefs; beliefs that together form our ego, both as individuals and as the collectives called teams and organizations. And the good news that the such transformations will truly change the world.
- Book 0 is foundational – titled The Transformation Leader’s Operating System – providing the underlying conceptual model upon which the book is built, the Integral Agile Transformation Framework™. Exploring holons, quadrants and altitudes, it provides the unifying mapping system for everything that goes on in organizations, from individual people, their thinking and relationships, to structural and cultural systems; from command and control to emergent leadership.; from Scrum to Kanban to scaled frameworks. As the title reveals, we conceive it as the underlying operating system for a transformation leader, the fundamental structure upon which the leader’s thoughts and actions rest, creating a place to ‘locate’ any given state of affairs encountered in the organization, plus a way for the transformation leader to think about and operate on that state of affairs in an intelligible, effective, and relevant manner.
Friday, March 16
Michele & Michael – Awareness, Acceptance, & Love of Your Shadow Self
“There will be no shadow if there is no light”. Going into our shadow sounds like such a scary event. We know that where there is darkness there is light. As humans, even in our darkest times of life we will look for the light. If you’ve gone through a dark time in life, at some point you may have said “there’s light at the end of the tunnel”. If our shadow part of ourselves is causing us problems, we will become cut off from the light, or the gifts that are there to make us whole – to be who we really are. So, how can we embrace our shadow, actually love it, and transform it into light? First, we have to understand what is there in the shadows. We have to become aware of what is causing us to be so uncomfortable in certain situations that seem to challenge us so much. If we can become aware of it, without judging it, being ashamed of it, or running away from it, then we can realize that those darker emotions are there to inform us about what we need to improve on in order to transform our uncomfortable experiences into positive, creative experiences. One way we can begin to become aware of our shadows, is to do some self-awareness recording in those unsettling situations. When we begin to consciously observe ourselves and track our self-talk, emotions, physical reactions, and behaviors, then we can begin seeing patterns. In that way, we are actually shining a light onto our shadow self in order to see new possibilities of choice. Another way we can begin to cultivate a loving relationship is to have a little fun with it. Find a constructive way to work with it. Music, art, drama, with all the fun apps out there, the opportunities are endless for this expression of shadow self in a fun way! Another way is to practice mindfulness such as meditation or Yoga or anything that helps you slow down, be in the moment, be still and just BE, because in stillness is where you find your true self and where all the gifts are waiting.
Thursday, March 15
Michele & Michael – Quantum Entanglement
As coaches, when we contemplate a new engagement, there is a certain level of excitement, of adrenalin, a rush to the head with all the possibilities, the prospect that our deepest gifts will be used . At the same time, there is a sober questioning – can I be helpful to this organizational system, to the human beings who collectively create that system? Do they know what they’re getting in to? Do I? How has our destiny been tied together, somehow, bringing us to this place?
In physics, there is the notion of a quantum entanglement. As Wikipedia puts it: “Quantum entanglement is a physical phenomenon which occurs when pairs or groups of particles are generated or interact in ways such that the quantum state of each particle cannot be described independently of the state of the other(s), even when the particles are separated by a large distance—instead, a quantum state must be described for the system as a whole”
Think about that! You can’t describe the individual particles — in our case, human beings — independently of the state of the other human beings and the system as a whole. The quantum state must be described for the system, like an organization. We are drawn to the clients, or employers, that we are because we are quantumly entangled with them. Our destinies are intermixed, our issues mirrors to each other. We might think this is a disadvantage, that if we as coaches have similar issues to our clients, we can’t help them ‘objectively.’ Or, we might instead think: how better to help them than to share the same field of play, a mirrored set of issues?
At the end of the day, I can only control my own behavior, thinking, and attitudes; I cannot do this for someone else, as much as our clients sometimes want us to. Since our issues are entangled, since somehow our quantum state can only be described ‘for the system as a whole’ — client and consultants — who is in a better position to make a difference?
Wednesday, March 14
Michael & Michele – Why We Must
As we’ve gotten involved in more engagements, it becomes ever more clear why we must do this work. There is a hunger in our world for deeper contact, for more conscious living and working. The status quo will certainly not do. It is true that not everyone is ready to move beyond it, but enough are to keep us busy for a long time. When we find those leaders who are willing to do their own work, who are dedicated to serving their constituents, it is so precious; how can we not then dedicate ourselves to finding the place within us that has the potential for holding them back in their quest? The privilege of sitting in the fire with someone willing to look deep within themselves is too compelling to resist; how could we not do everything we can?
Being a purpose-driven organization changes everything. It organizes our world — and our work — in a different way than for those merely trying to “hit their numbers.” We want the book to help show the way to a new place, a new “come from.” At the same time, we want to create compassion for those who are in a different place. After all, how can we know when it is someone else’s time? It is hard enough to know when it is ours.
Tuesday, March 13
Michele – The Leader’s Role in Transforming
Most people will agree that ‘true’ Organizational Transformation has to be led by the leaders; that it cannot be delegated; even if that’s not the reality of what is happening in most organizations. But what does it really mean for a leader to lead a transformation? We say it has to start with them; even within them, with their own personal transformation. All true. But what exactly is their ROLE in this? I believe there’s been a general lack in the Agile Industry in our ability as Agile consultants and coaches to help leaders understand, embrace and most importantly build their capability to lead authentic transformation. The only way for an organization to become more customer-centric, more organization-centric and ultimately more society-centric and to achieve true organizational agility is for the Leaders to be able to span the various boundaries that exist in the organization. The only way innovation can happen is for people to embrace a broader, more integral vision of their service to the world. It means moving past the “Us” and “Them” mindset, the silo’s that exist, which have gone from boundaries to borders – limiting an effective collaborative environment that will ever bring about innovation or agility. It sounds simple enough when you write it down, even say it, but in practice it is very complex. A leader can only take on such a task if they themselves are aware of their own limitations in collaborative interactions, and only then can they begin to get skillful at helping others do the same thing. This is work of the mind, the human psychology of change. A transformational leader has to continuously cultivate their own awareness of complex intergroup dynamics and figure out how to skillfully work with the fundamental tension that exists between groups. Two basic human needs are to belong and to be unique. Unity and Separation. I want to belong to a group, to feel accepted; and then I want to be valued for my differences. Those polarities are what creates the tension when groups in organizations intersect. And that is exactly where we need to pay attention, because that is where we create the “Great Divide” and lock in our positions, achieving no ground OR where new frontiers are forged and where creativity and innovation happens. And for us to even be writing about this, takes us to our own edge of knowledge and experience. However, if we can COLLECTIVELY expand our awareness in this area, we can become more effective and able to think and act differently, pushing us past our own limitations, and collectively creating solutions and inspiring others in their work as Transformational Leaders.
Michael – The Delicate Beginning of a Transformation
Michele and I are in the planning stages of several new transformation engagements. As we begin envisioning together with the leaders involved, I am reminded of what a delicate time it is as we begin the quest to realize a new vision. It engages everyone’s ego, and their inspiration — the leaders involved, and ours. As consultants, and outsiders, it is our job to hold a clear container of neutrality, not “voting” for what we want (yes, we are often biased towards transformation), but truly serving our client by helping them make a clear decision: what are they truly prepared to commit to? What are they prepared to pay the price for? A gentle developmental change, from waterfall to iterative agile-fall? A somewhat ambitious transition, perhaps to some level of Agile team delivery? Or a grueling transformation, to true organizational agility, reinventing mindsets, culture, and structures along the way?
In some instances — if we are authentic — it is our job to dissuade leaders from engaging a transformation; sometimes, we can sense the organization — and the leaders of that organization — are not ready to pay the price they’d need to pay; the business drivers are not that compelling. Other times, our job is to lend our courage to leaders who know they need the full throttle of a transformation, but are a bit shy as to how they can pull it off. In either case, our job is to stay out of the way; as Shunryu Suzuki said, “When you do something, you should burn yourself completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself.” (Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind). Leaving no trace is what distinguishes Catalyst leaders, what signals an Integral mindset.
Pray for Michele and I, as we try to burn ourselves completely in this new work.
Monday, March 12
Michael & Michele – today we worked on the concept of Meta-Modern organizations, an evolution beyond Pluralistic-Green, or Post-Modernism. Post-modernism is itself a reaction to our overly materialistic, reductionistic society. The dysfunction of Modernism drives growth for growth’s sake and treats people like “resources” whose only purpose is to buy things to feed the ‘system.’ Post-Modernism quite understandably wants to return to a more humane time, but ends up taking everything apart (deconstructing) in the process, and ends up making a big mess. The Meta-Modern position is a change urge many of us feel, looking for a middle ground that maintains the sane impulses of both Modernism and Post-Modernism, while not being tied to either the matrix organization of Modernism nor the flat one of Post-Modernism, but rather opts for an adaptive structure that is ‘fit for purpose;’ not insisting on hierarchical leadership, but not shying away from taking charge when the situation calls for it. The Meta-modern impulse is anchored in purpose and effective action with a systems view.
On the WE side of things, Meta-modern (Integral, 2nd Tier) shows up in things like Relationship Systems Intelligence (from ORSC), or as group practices involving mindfulness and consciousness — like Otto Schwarmer’s Theory U and a practice he calls presencing. Entering the U, a group suspends their ordinary judging mind, observes in great detail a situation with new eyes, connects deeply to each other, and comes to a place where the mind slows down and a different kind of awareness becomes available. From this place, innovative and swift action is possible. Schwarmer — a collaborator and colleague of Peter Senge — calls this ‘leading from the future.’ We are starting to explore these topics in our Agile Transformational Leader workshop, which will give us valuable feedback to help make these complex subjects more easily accessible to our readers.