Category Archives: flow

Rough Waters: Leading and Learning in Turbulent Times

Making Waves, Silver Turbulence (c) 2014 Amberwood Media Group, all rights reserved

Turbulent Waters in the Organization. Can we still make headway when our emotions turn to survival? image (c) 2014 Amberwood Media Group

CHARLOTTE, NC.  Leadership and organizational learning are hard enough on a good day, when things are calm.

When our surroundings become turbulent the situation can worsen quickly, as we begin facing new obstacles. The rules change. Challenges arrive more rapidly. Problem definitions morph before our eyes. Goals begin to shift in real time. Team members may end up in different roles, and the opportunity to communicate with them may be limited.

Whether its new management, new competitors, or even new regulatory presures, leading in times of change places considerable demands on us (ref: 21st century Kotter; see also: Collaboration DNA). Learning focus can move to the back burner.

Out of fear, do we simply latch onto survival instincts?

Or do we manage to focus, somehow, on the challenges flowing toward us?

Too often, fear consumes us. When we most need our thinking and perception skills, the flood of rapid change can cause paralysis or panic.

I love the metaphor of turbulent water (think flood waters, river rapids, or heavy surf) because the notion of rough water demands attention, skills that favor balance, and a clear ability to react in the moment. In short, turbulent change requires all of our energy. If we apply the metaphor in the organizational learning context, what may leaders take away? Let’s discuss it:

  • Q1. What are some secrets for change and learning leaders seeking to function in turbulent situations?
  • Q2. Can an organization still learn when rough waters distract us?
  • Q3. Are there good arguments to suspend learning when focus shifts to survival?
  • Q4. As the world grows more connected and accelerated, the rate of flow can only increase; will we ever see smooth sailing again?

I hope you will join us MON May 12th at 8pET using hashtag #cdna. Water metaphors or no, we always have in-depth conversations. Bring an extra paddle, and let’s see where we might go.

See you online.

Chris @sourcepov


It’s Your Move: Finding Balance in the Collaborative Flow (Ch.17)

In the game of chess, every move brings important decisions. Is it best to advance, and stake a claim to new ground? Or to retreat, consolidating gains? Taking the lead, or letting the person across the game board set the pace?

Collaboration is fraught with decisions like these, where we must decide how to engage, and then revisit those decisions again and again, making adjustments.

Much depends, of course on our intentions and the context of the situation at hand. Are we there to share and inform, or to learn? Ultimately, isn’t it some of both?

In the context of effective team dynamics, I believe we need a balanced strategy, finding the optimal place between extremes, sharing and learning in useful ways. It’s about letting the circumstance of your knowledge, the topic, and the chemistry of the group tap new, “emergent” possibilities.

As we continue to explore the dynamics of effective collaboration in The DNA of Collaboration, “Balanced Objectives” (Ch.17) asks us to consider the importance of a balanced approach, and to understand how to get there.

In our chat SAT Nov 17 11aET (click here to join), let’s unpack it like this:

  • Q1. Explore the shifting dynamic of teacher v. learner in a collaborative context.
  • Q2. As in chess, collaborators balance opportunities to advance v. consolidating gains. Can we switch often and be productive?
  • Q3. To achieve collaborative balance, must our roles keep shifting between leading and following?
  • Q4. Is there an optimal balance between structured process and a more open, creative flow?

Hope this helps bring the balancing act of collaboration a bit more into focus. It’s critical thinking at the micro level, making decisions in the moment. When it comes to solving problems in teams, paying attention to dynamics like these pays huge rewards.

Challenge me with your thoughts and ideas .. we’re all here to learn!  I’ll see you online!

- Chris Jones, author, aka @sourcepov


Who’s Role is it Anyway? Dynamics of Effective Collaboration (Ch.14)

Promo image from "Whose Line is it Anyway?" courtesy ABC

Promo image from “Whose Line is it Anyway?” courtesy ABC

When we come together as a team, whether instinctively or out of habit, we tend to gravitate to natural roles that we find comfortable, whether as contributors or listeners, active participants or passive observers, leaders or supporting cast.  Depending on the group, there can be lots in play at once, but we tend to overlook the dynamics.

Consider an improv comedy troupe performing live, or a band working out tracks in a recording studio.  What’s really happening?  Can we tease out more explicit roles that influence our collaborative results?  I think we can.  Too often we don’t put thought into the kinds of participation we really need.  We discussed this last fall in our KM World W5 work session and explored the dynamics still further here in Charlotte at our QCF “New Thinking” workshop (slides).

Let’s keep the exploration going.

The #CDNA Crew has launched a new series MONDAYs at 8pET on Key Roles in Collaboration.  It’s the focus of Chapter 14 in The DNA of Collaboration (in softcover or Kindle on Amazon) and it’s almost always a conversation that strikes a chord.

In the weeks ahead, we’ll attack these roles, one by one, to see what we might learn:

  • Q1. Catalyst. In what ways can we spark new thinking in our discussions?
  • Q2. Connector. What happens when we connect ideas during a collaborative session or chat? And to make this happen more, what are:  (a.) key initial conditions? (b.) supporting behaviors? (c.) times they add most value? (d.) situations when their role is most important?
  • Q3. Aggregator/Curator. Often this means lots of work. How can we make the capture/takeaways of ideas more interesting?
  • Q4. Moderator/Planner. What skills make these leadership role effective?
  • Q5. Analyst. How do we make time for facts, data, and critical thinking?
  • Q6. Challenger. Can we take issue in constructive ways, without coming across as a naysayer?
  • Q7. Designer. What is the potential for truly creative thinking? Does a meeting afford enough “white space” for this?
  • Q8. Historian/Researcher. How can these important activities happen in real time?
  • Q9. Referee. Is there a place for (simple) rules, and how do we ensure healthy boundaries?
  • Q10. Practitioner. What’s the best way to engage the hands-on folks that practice what’s being discussed?
  • Q11. Expert/SME. These folks often kill collaboration with the weight of their knowledge; how can this be avoided?
  • Q12. Did we leave out any roles? If so, which ones, and why?

I’ll be posting takeaways as comments to this post, but I’d really appreciate it if you’d do the same.  The value is in our diverse perspectives ..

Again, hope to see you guys for the conversation MONDAYs 8pET using hash tag #cdna .. many folks use Tweetchat (link).  See you there.  What role will you play?

Chris aka @sourcepov


A Time and Place, Venues for Flow (Ch.13)

Clearly, collaboration requires a venue, a space where people can come together and share ideas.  But to open opportunities for flow, we’ll need to work to get outside the box of traditional meetings. As low tech and old school as it seems, a conference room provides many of the necessary trappings needed for in-depth conversation.

But what else is needed for flow?

As we prepare for KMW12 W5 tomorrow, let’s tap tonight’s special #cdna chat to unpack this.

  • Q1. How can space be modified to capture ideas more fluidly, perhaps using un-conferences as a guide?
  • Q2. How might adaptive facilitation further open dialog?
  • Q3. What metaphors for flow might help collaborators further shed notions of structured facilitation?
  • Q4. Can visualizing idea streams make a difference?

Hope to see you online, as we begin to unpack “flow” in the collaborative context.

- Chris Jones aka SourcePOV, author, The DNA of Collaboration


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