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.
Friday, March 23
Michael & Michele – Manifesting the Field – Co-Leading the Agile Transformational Leader class for the last 3 days has been an eye-opening experience for us. We use a fictional case study in the class involving a company that has acquired two other companies to fulfill their vision. We use the case to teach a number of lessons, one of which concerns the Integral altitudes and organizational culture. Each of the three companies has its own personality, characters and history. Students take our seed profile and embellish it and make it theirs. When the class turns to org culture, it emerges that one of the company’s is a combination of Traditional-Amber and Achievement-Orange, another is Pluralistic-Green, and the third is Evolutionary-Teal. What’s astounding is just how much each student group begins to take on that culture’s values in their actions, their talk, and their thinking; it is not just a “pretend” exercise, but literally becomes reality.
What seems to happen is that the class environment becomes a manifestation of the emotional field of the given company. The emotional field is analogous to a gravitational field, exerting a force over the people in it similar to gravity. Emotional fields is a way to describe the power of culture over us – the way we feel almost compelled to act in certain ways when we belong to a given organization and its culture. We feel this influence when we become a member of an organization for any length of time, when we have learned the “rules” of that organization’s culture. As if on cue, the Traditional-Amber organization couldn’t help but be concerned with regulations, order, and control. They actively bristled when hearing the presentation from the Pluralistic-Green organization about the need to have fun at work, bring their dogs to the office, and the flat nature of their structure. The field manifested itself in these fictional organizations, exerting an unseen ‘force’ — not dissimilar from gravity — over the members behavior and even their thinking. Changing or shifting that field is not to be undertaken lightly; nor is changing culture.
Thursday, March 22
Michael & Michele – Creating Links Between Groups – We often need to help span organizational boundaries – break down silos between groups – in hopes of creating greater synergy. For instance, during product planning across internal customer departments, or between an acquired organization and the acquiring one.
Perhaps paradoxically, the first step in bridging a boundary – in breaking down a silo – is to make the boundary clearer to all involved. In other words, as a boundary spanning leader, we need to help a group see where its boundary is, to understand and articulate its own identity, what they stand for, in order to get clear on their identity. When groups articulate who they are – and who they are not – they strengthen the bonds with others who are like them, who are all members of the same group, the same tribe. Using this buffering process of clearly defining who they are, they protect themselves from undue outside influences and demands. This clear understanding of identity can make it easier to be open to understanding another group and their identity because they feel secure in themselves, they feel self-authored. Our job as boundary spanning leaders is to help assure that boundary does not become a border, creating an us vs. them.
Ways to articulate this group identity include creating a team or group charter, doing a values clarification exercise, creating a team logo, or writing down our principles as a group. Once this identify is clearly seen by all, then we can take the next step of crossing the boundary.
Wednesday, March 21
Michael & Michele – from the book Introduction
- Book 3, Human Systems Agility: The Relationships and Culture that Create and Sustain Integral Agility, focuses on that other half. Relationships are what gets work done in organizations; no one works in isolation. At the same time, the inability to change culture is the number one complaint among Agile practitioners the world over (see the annual Version One surveys on the State of Agile) . The Agile industry is mostly unaware of the fact that consciousness, culture and relationships each have proven methodologies every bit as teachable and effective as the practices and processes side does. This book attempts to fill that gap, providing a sampling of methods that enable Integral agility from the inside-out. We explore human field theory (social, emotional, knowing) and Relationship Systems Intelligence™ (RSI) in the context of working with and transforming relationships. In parallel to how documenting a value stream or a workflow can make the ITS system visible, we will explore ways to ‘see systems,’ in a left-hand quadrant way, with systemic constellations and Theory U. Finally, we will go in-depth exploring the architecture and determinants of culture, how to design a different culture, the role leaders play in that design, and the need to model it in their behavior. Along the way, we’ll look at why all this might be difficult to do.
Tuesday, March 20
Michael & Michele – from the book Introduction
With the IATF as the basis, Book 2, Integral Agility: Practices & Structures that Lead to Breakthrough Innovation & Organizational Value Creation deep dives on the twin topics of innovation and value creation, discussing the practices, processes, metrics, governance and organization structures (the right-hand quadrants) that get us there. It covers the landscape of the organization that focuses directly on achieving customer and organizational value. The higher end of the evolutionary spectrum in this domain allows organizations to realize what we call Integral agility. We believe Integral agility is the next evolutionary step after business agility – evolving beyond customer-centric innovation to organization– and even society-centric innovation methods and thinking. Organizations achieving Integral agility will be fully benevolent and synergistic forces in the human ecosystem, not just net positives. Imagine creation that benefits customers and makes a profit, while also being energizing expressions of the organization’s purpose, that benefit society at large beyond the direct customer; imagine a creation process aimed at people, planet, and profits. These are the topics most organizational leaders care about explicitly, and focus on deliberately; they are surely critical for success; and, they are only half the story!
Monday, March 19
Michael & Michele – from the book Introduction
Michele and I are writing from LAX, where we are laying over on our way to Oakland to teach the Agile Transformational Leader workshop. On the long plane ride to California, we talked about many things, most interestingly about our book writing process. On Friday, Michele posted the following on LinkedIn:
Commitment. It’s about intention and focus for some purpose or action – a specific outcome. @Michael Spayd and I made a public commitment 2 weeks ago to blog every day about what we worked on that day for the book. I was thinking tonight (after writing the blog) how our commitment was created to achieve an outcome, the BOOK, but now we find ourselves living the daily “process”. And a new perspective on this came to me, which is to focus on the process – learn to love it, grow in it, and find flow in it. The book then becomes the byproduct of that – and how much better that byproduct will turn out!
On the plane, we realized we had both come to similar conclusions. As we got deeper into the dialogue, we realized how we had gone through a mini-transformation in our relationship to the writing commitment. Now, instead of seeing it as a daily “chore” — with us on autopilot — we were now seeing it as an awareness exercise; we both opened up some new awareness channels within ourselves and the universe was starting to feed us information to write. In the same way that you are thinking about buying a new car, let’s say a Mercedes, and you start seeing them everywhere. It feels we are co-creating the book, that a writing process is coming through this. The more we cultivate stillness in ourselves, the more that happens. .
The following is a continuation from the Book Introduction (see the March 17 post for the first part).
- After the foundation, we turn in an unexpected direction. It turns out the track record for organizational change is even worse than that for software projects prior to Agile; the level of consciousness embodied by the transformation leader imposes a kind of ceiling on the scope and effectiveness of the organizational change that’s even possible. So rather than beginning talk of Agile process frameworks, Book 1, Conscious Integral Leadership: Integrating the Heart, Mind and Will, focuses on this shift in consciousness in the transformation leader as the first order of business. It covers the skills, attitudes, knowledge and change in beliefs necessary to change ourselves – to create the vertical learning in us needed to lead a transformational change across the organization. It is a primer, reflecting Gandhi’s famously overused but nevertheless relevant quote: “be the change you wish to see in the world.”