Book Progress – Week of May 14, 2018

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, May 18

Michele Michael & Michele – Co-coaching

Two people coaching together is like two people leading together. Co-coaching, at its best, is working in flow, acting from stillness. Presencing – bringing presence and sensing together, seeing from our deepest source so that our joined capacity allows us to see ourselves differently, and to see our client differently. Working in flow requires us to slow down, to let go of pursuing every ‘rabbit trail’ of the mind, to discriminate what is really worth pursuing. We don’t want to move from our small mind, but rather from our combined, big mind. There is a fine-tuned precision when we listen from one mind; there is a harmony of two hearts, a letting go to let come, a united will for what wants to emerge. The effect is like laser-focused surgery – cutting away only what must be cut. When we manage our habitual speed of mind, we talk less; we act from the simplest thing that can possibly work. Co-coaching in this way is powerful, breakthrough coaching that can take clients to a place that neither we, nor they, imagined.

Thursday, May 17

Michael & Michele – Organizational Structure

What difference does the organization’s structure make to our Agile implementation? The difference lies in how product value flows through the organization and how adaptable your organization is able to respond to the marketplace. Structure determines performance. So, the structure will determine how flow happens in your organization. A structure aligned to a function or capability of the system will reinforce the fiefdom of the VP in charge of that system; a structure aligned to a value stream will reinforce and support the value stream. In the ITS quadrant, ideally, the architecture of the organization supports the flow of value, through end to end processes, including people and processes that are part of that value stream. When we struggle to find a value stream, it might be because the structure is aligned with platforms or product capabilities; it is then difficult for the team to understand the vision of the product or their part in creating the product.  At the same time, if the organization is centered around Achievement-Orange values, it is not uncommon for it to be structured to reinforce a combination of functions and project management. Value streams are more of a Pluralistic-Green concept, though it could be consistent with healthy Achievement-Orange where people were able to get beyond politics.

Organizational Structure also affects mindset and culture (I and WE quadrants). As the old quote has it, “where you stand depends upon where you sit.” So, for example, if I am in the PMO, I tend to see the risks associated with projects and the need to have control over them. If on the other hand, I am on a project team, I believe I can manage my own risks, thank you very much. The role of a transformational leader is to break down the ‘borders’ that are limiting effective collaboration – resulting in the “us vs. them” mentality. The Integral quote might be modified to “where you stand depends upon how many perspectives you can take.”

A conscious integral leader – meaning a leader who is “awake” and “aware,” sees what others miss because they are in tune with the present happenings, and they can listen and understand why another person has the perspective they have; they then use that capability to span the boundaries between groups and individuals.  This capability allows for genuine collaboration, allowing groups to intersect and co-create what needs to happen for the future to emerge. And so we return to the idea that structure determines performance.

Wednesday, May 16

Michele & Michael – Boundary Spanning Practices (Part 3) 

In Part 2 of Boundary Spanning Practices (May 10th),  we talked about the 4th practice, “Mobilizing” – shifting from an “Us” and “Them” perspective to a shared “WE” mindset.  The next Boundary Spanning practice is “Weaving” – establishing a creative space, where interdependence develops & collective learning takes place.  The outcome of Weaving is innovative ideas and new solutions; this is done by forming new boundaries, ones that bring together members of disparate groups that now need to be connected in new, unforeseen ways. These newly formed ways adapt to the new realities seen when the old boundaries are transcended and new configurations are required.

What happens in reality when forming cross-functional teams, is that they haven’t laid the groundwork of managing differences and finding common ground before they can actually move to higher ground – where creativity happens. This might happen on a simple level on a Scrum team, when the Product Owner and the Tester – formerly members of very separate groups – form a new alliance around a passion for representing the customer voice through clear, well-articulated acceptance criteria. Weaving involves the ‘intersection’ of group boundaries, where group identities remain distinct, but they are interlaced to add up to a larger whole.  Weaving capitalizes on the power of both differentiation and integration in order to realize creative solutions. The old identities are not lost, but transcended by forming new, perhaps ad hoc, subgroups. In this way, Boundary Spanning is an Integral practice as it considers all perspectives as needed to represent reality. The more authentic perspectives we can take, the better at boundary spanning we will be. And the better at Boundary Spanning we are, the more successful we will be at realizing real, authentic transformation Transforming is the final Boundary Spanning Practice, where new territory of innovation, and the “Nexus effect,” come online. These 6 Boundary Spanning Practices are how we move from “The Great Divide” to the “New Frontier” as described in Boundary Spanning Leadership.

Tuesday, May 15

Michael & Michele – Using an Integral Approach to Metrics (Part 2)

Moving on around to the IT quadrant, we find the mentality we normally think of for metrics: direct business results like customer satisfaction, time to market for products, market share, etc. – all objective measures. Taking an Integral view on these leads us to think what will be consistent with the culture we wish to create, with trusting people rather than assuming they have to be checked up on, with measuring things that workers are naturally concerned about (e.g., how does the customer perceive and value the product that I help produce?) vs. those that insult them (e.g., did I fill out my time report).  

Thinking from an I perspective is perhaps the most difficult when it comes to metrics, though certainly possible if we understand that people’s opinions and perceptions are valid things to measure. We must also recognize the natural purview of each quadrant and it’s “truth” criteria. From an IT point of view, “truth” means something is indeed a fact –  if our measurement says product sales are growing, they indeed better be growing, else it is untrue. From an I point of view – a naturally subjective place – it is not “facts” we are looking for, but rather authenticity; is what someone is saying – or how someone is leading – an authentic expression of who they are, as opposed to acting like a fake? Do workers feel the ability to express their true feelings in meetings and with their boss, or must they pretend to ‘toe the party line’ or play politics? Such measures are not directly business results, but they create the internal environment within which value is created, and customers are satisfied.

By measuring our organizational world from all four perspectives – and from the appropriate altitude – we obtain a much richer, more complex, more actionable set of perspectives on our business. A human perspective in a results-driven world.

Monday, May 14

Michele & Michael – Using an Integral Approach to Metrics (Part 1)

Organizations typically develop metrics and set targets and objectives and cascade them down the management hierarchy.  This reinforces the silo’s you have already set up in your structure. The structural silos will get worse because at lower levels everybody’s working on different objectives. It’s not that there is a problem with using a scientific method approach for measuring business results; but as Einstein said: not all that counts can be counted, and not all that is counted, counts. Taking a more Integral approach can bring balance to the typical use of metrics in an IT quadrant kind of way.  

If we look from the WE quadrant, for instance, what we want to measure might be the health of the relationships within teams, between departments, and across leadership layers. Further, if the organization is centered in Achievement-Orange, it is appropriate to measure whether people are being held accountable in a healthy, as opposed to destructive, way. For an organization centered in Pluralistic-Green, on the other hand, we might instead focus on determining whether there are warm personal relationships, or the feeling of ‘family.’

Moving to look from the ITS quadrant, we want to measure the flow of value through the organization. You might think this only applies to product value stream, but the flow of value in our conversations and communications is a factor that also affects product value delivery.  When we take a deeper look into our bottlenecks, we find the blocks are not only from process but from the burden of political or other physical barriers to getting things done. So, using Integral Systems Thinking to diagnose what’s behind suboptimal performance might lead us to “WE” solutions or interventions, just as much as “ITS” solutions.

Michele Madore
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