Author Archives: Chris Jones

About Chris Jones

Thinker. Author. Explorer of edges. Passionate about learning and coffee. Founder of #smchat and #orgdna communities. Writing on Medium.

Are we embracing Complexity and Agility too late? #orgdna #globalchat SAT 8.25.18 1-3pGMT

The 21st century has a breakneck feel. It’s increasingly difficult for organizations to stay apace. We try to focus on the work before us, but our attention is continually flooded with every option imaginable. The sum total of our collective/industry knowledge taunts us, always just a few clicks away. And that’s before Google and social media factor in.

Ideas are everywhere, but our ability to prioritize them is strained.

How can individuals and teams be expected to function? How can organizations thrive?

Amid this torrent, notions of complexity and  agility are intriguing. Could they represent better ways to navigate the flood of ideas? Most experts and academics say ‘yes’.  Unfortunately, the words get dropped into meetings and board rooms like all the latest buzz words. Yet both concepts hint at important, underlying themes:

  • Complexity is a paradigm shift in how we see the world, less focused on empirical cause and effect, more on networks of interdependent actors that can learn and co-create organically; it’s where the whole can’t be predicted by the sum of the parts; where initial conditions and critical mass play key roles; where new thinking, under the umbrella of emergence, marks new pathways for adaptation, aka continuous improvement
  • Agility is a paradigm shift of it’s own, whereby organizations become more nimble in response to change; trust regains center stage; adaptation becomes a critical skill; incremental approaches open new ways to solve problems

Changes like these are at once exciting, and daunting. Our ability to work together and learn together is at the core in our #futureofwork. I believe Complexity and Agility are integral aspects of how work needs to get done in a highly interdependent world. So, for me, it’s critical that we understand these concepts, embrace them, and put them to work.

Are we taking on these challenges too late? Let’s discuss.

In our 8/25/18 #orgdna #globalchat, we’ll examine Complexity and Agility in the context of the #futureofwork , with a focus on key initial conditions:

  • Q1. Trust Networks. Why is trust needed for collaborative dialog to emerge? To enable agility?
  • Q2. Agile and the Price of Speed. Can a simple methodology help organizations move faster? Within what constraints?
  • Q3. Small Wins. What makes notions like “minimum viable product” so essential?
  • Q4. Adaptive Governance. Can there be oversight without bureaucratic grid lock? What is the new role of leaders? Do we still need Kotter-style coalitions?
  • Q5. Making Sense of Complexity. Why is this a critical 21st century organizational skill? What are its elements?
  • Q6. A Collaborative Culture. Why is an organization’s collective mindset an important initial condition? What are the complexity implications? Can culture be influenced?

Lots to talk about. And it’s going to be a journey. This outline will inform follow-on conversations, like these.

In fact, we’ll continue to unpack the #futureofwork through the lens of social complexity each month, now on 3rd or 4th Saturdays, from 1-3pm GMT, which is 9-11am EDT. Stop in at any point during the 2-hour conversation. Can’t make that time? Feel free to tweet thoughts/inputs/comments using hashtags #orgdna #globalchat, or post comments to this blog.

It’s been a great exchange to date. We’re 6-years in, and gaining momentum. Transcripts of our conversations abound.

We hope you’ll join us for the next one. See you online!

– Chris Jones, aka @sourcepov, Charlotte NC

 

How does a Twitter Chat work?  We recommend a streaming app like TweetDeck. Just append #orgdna to your tweets adding #orgdev #agile #agility #complexity and/or #futureofwork to specific tweets, as relevant, to expand the thread. Sometimes we’ll chat in the #orgdna stream in real-time, like a flash mob, with insights just popping up.  But for the in-depth discussion, join us at the appointed hour on Twitter.

What is #orgdna?  It’s a self-selecting community of #orgdev thinkers, discussing collaborative aspects of the organization since 2012. 

What is a Global Chat?  This may be the first one.  Many challenges facing the modern organization are global in nature, or in impact. I’m hoping #orgdna can make #globalchat a more frequent and welcome exchange, with increasing scope of participation and value.

Do we have a Master Agenda?  Yes, but it’s evolving, as we learn more. We’ve captured many of our ideas and themes to date using Coggle. Our roadmap is posted on this site (CC4-BY-SA). Have a look, and share your thoughts.

 


Being Agile: On the Path to Organizational Agility | #orgdna on the #futureofwork (discussed 6/11/18)

Like so many buzz words in the corporate lexicon, notions of agility get dropped often in work settings. Who doesn’t want to get the important things done faster? Even moreso, the Agile methodology, born and bred in the world of software development, introduces a welcome path to help get there.

Easy enough?

Well, no. Actually, it’s as difficult as can be. Because changing how we think, how we work together, and how we attack problems is painful, and sometimes slow. Agile champions and enthusiasts may beat the drum of change, but their energy doesn’t always sink in, or sustain.

If Agile is a path to organizational and corporate agility, it’s going to be more of a journey.

Agile is as much a mindset as a methodology. It’s not just the steps and the formats. It’s a social paradigm shift. Consider.  How and when should we engage others? How do we get comfortable with ceding control? Are we able to develop a bias for trust?

No small challenge, agility, but I think it’s the essential path. The 21st century marketplace demands a quickened pace. The nimble will survive.

So let’s get to it.

In our 6/11/18 #orgdna chat, let’s discuss a few of the critical elements that are key initial conditions on the path to agility:

  • Q1. Quickened Pace. Can you and your team(s) pick up the pace of decision-making, even to the extent of a sprint?
  • Q2. Flexibility. Will your and your team(s) be willing to shift direction midstream?
  • Q3. Cross-Functional Engagement. What level of cooperation can you achieve?
  • Q4. Commitment. Are stakeholders truly empowered to own solutions and take risks (vs. lip service)?
  • Q5. Permission for Transparency. Is everyone (including/especially those “up the chain”) ready for honest appraisals of gaps?
  • Q6. Flow of Work. Agility is fueled by an organic, opportunistic flow of work, not what we are used to: structure and control. Are you and your team(s) ready?

Lots to talk about, all of it foundational to becoming agile.  Let’s discuss, and put some stakes in the ground.

The mission? We’re continuing to unpack the #futureofwork through the lens of social complexity, and I hope you’ll join us.  We meet monthy, mostly on 3rd or 4th Mondays, from 9-11pm. For June, we’re holiday hopping, and it’s a 2nd Monday.

See? We’re being agile already. Hold on for the ride.

Chris Jones, aka @sourcepov, Charlotte NC

 

How does a Twitter Chat work? We recommend a streaming app like TweetDeck. Just append #orgdna to your tweets adding #orgdev #agile #agility and/or #futureofwork to specific tweets, as relevant, to expand the thread. Sometimes we’ll chat in the #orgdna stream in real-time, like a flash mob, with insights just popping up.  But for the in-depth discussion, join us at the appointed hour on Twitter. It’s always lively, and we hope you’ll join us! 

 


Agile Personas: A Step Toward More Dynamic Teams? | #orgdna on the #futureofwork (discussed 4/23/18)

In our 2018 #orgdna conversations to date, we’ve been discussing the specific roles in organizations that are essential for new thinking. On the short list from our latest transcript, consider the value of team members like these:

  • Connector – linking concepts across domains, silos, or functions
  • Catalyst – sparking or challenging new thinking, helping others break from norms
  • Designer – envisioning alternate end states (what is possible?)
  • Aggregator – focused on semantics, solution elements and actionable takeaways
  • Practitioner/SME – subject matter expert on problems at hand

These roles are laser-focused on problem-solving skills. They may be less common on traditional org charts, but they are essential to high-functioning teams.

You’ll note classic titles like “VP” and “Director” are missing from the list. Titles assigned by H/R are important, but so often hardwire us to limited task assignments and accountabilities. They don’t speak to thinking skills or problem-solving skills – key qualifications for fluid organizations who need to change how they operate.

Perhaps we need something in the middle?

Enter Agile, a methodology for solution design that aligns well with the more dynamic models we’ve been discussing. It emerged from IT, but brings with it flexible charters, movable scope boundaries, and fluid participation. That sounds a lot like the future of work we’ve imagined. And Agile offers faster results than traditional “waterfall” models, dated approaches that deliver answers in annual increments, often after requirements have changed.

Who doesn’t need to move faster in today’s demanding business environements?

Agile uses the notion of Personas, generalized actors in an organization, to define problem/solution stakeholders. Personas are really archetypes, representative roles that help design teams explain how things need to work. Some examples:

  • Leader/Executive – ultimate owner/customer
  • Planner – surveying options, constraints, barriers, and optimal scenarios
  • Line Manager – ensuring resources and productivity, while removing barriers
  • Analyst/SME – subject matter experts, working out specifics

While personas like these seem more familiar than our skill-specific, hypothetical #orgdna roles, they are still generalized. This feels like a step in the right direction. And there are definitely overlaps.

I’ve updated the #orgdna #futureofwork Coggle to show this.

In our Monday 4/23 #orgdna chat, from 9-11pm ET, we’ll unpack how roles become personas in the Agile context, and how this opens up new thinking. Here are a few specific framing Q’s:

  • Q1. On Agile Personas. How might generalizing roles into Agile Personas make team and/or process design more fluid?
  • Q2. Focus on OD Mindset. For team builders, do Personas offer a useful conceptual middle ground between current state hierarchy/specialists and skill-based Roles we’ve been discussing?
  • Q3. Changing OD Mindsets on Key Roles. In practice, how might team builders leverage the power of conceptual Agile Personas and/or our skill-based Roles?
  • Q4. Titles. Are they still important?
  • Q5. Can Generalists take Action? Or do team members without task-specific accountabilities or authority face challenges?

Much to discuss here, as unpack our conception of roles in the organization, with a social complexity overlay. I hope you’ll join us.

Chris Jones aka @sourcepov | Charlotte NC US


ABOUT #ORGDNA.  If you’ve been following along, you’ll know our #orgdna conversation on Twitter is gaining momentum. What will the future of work look like? How can we get there?  See our new #orgdna META page for a little more background on our approach and objectives.  And, as always, we’ll see you online.

 


Key Roles for Dialog in the Modern Organization | frame for #orgdna #futureofwork 3/26/18

Across the corporate landscape, our silo-based cultures tend to force dialog along the chain of command. Look at your work emails. Instructions and permission are top-down. Ideas have to move up and down the chain. You see these patterns every day.

What will it take to change the rules? Can ideas and information flow seamlessly across silos?

This is a timely topic for the #futureofwork.  Open communication is critical for shaping change.  Ideas are all around us.  We don’t need to wait for holacratic, flat, or teal frameworks to start having the important discussions that lead to new thinking.

What are some key roles required to spark and sustain cross-functional conversations?  In my book, I introduce 12 collaborative roles (with definitions posted here).

Food for thought.  But there’s much more to the puzzle: how do these roles interact?  Much depends on group size, focus, skill sets and mindsets.  Holding context can be a challenge.  And that’s quite a bit to juggle.  Part of the magic in collaboration is creating visibility to the core elements for success, and keeping that model in view.

Here are some of those factors:

Key Roles for Collaborative Dialog

Exploring 12 Key Roles for Foster Dialog. Sparking and sustaining cross-functional conversations can require many roles. Contributors often play many at once, without realizing it. Adapted from The DNA of Collaboration (2012), Ch. 14, Fig. 20.

 

For our next #orgdna #futureofwork chat, let’s unpack the key roles that can shape better dialog, as we consider:

  • Q: How do Roles like these transform the nature of dialog in the modern organization? What is their unique power, and how do they work together?

Our regulars know a normal #orgdna Twitter chat has 4-6 questions, which often come too fast to process.  We’re going to slow that pace down a bit, as we seek to drive deeper insights, and more critical thinking.

Let’s do this.  Join us for the live chat Monday, 3/26 at 9 pm ET. Additional details for the chat appear below.

It should be a great conversation, about fostering .. better conversations.  I hope you’ll join us.

–  Chris Jones @sourcepov in Charlotte NC

 


 

ABOUT THE GROUP.  Since 2012, a self-selecting band of OD thinkers has been discussing the future of the organization, using hashtag #orgdna. The group continues to evolve, with 20-25 active contributors.

ABOUT THE TWITTER CHAT. On any given month, 5-10 of us come together on Twitter for conversation, which is open to all. For the chat itself, we recommend a tweet streaming app like TweetDeck. Just add #orgdna to your tweets, and we’ll start to exchange ideas at the appointed hour. We’re now running 2-hours to accommodate time zones; just join for any part that you’re able.

ABOUT THE TOPIC. Much is being said on “the future of work” and its unfolding dimensions. See Deloitte’s Tom Friedman interview, Use #futureofwork in your tweets for additional cross-over engagement.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR. Chris Jones is a thinker, instigator, and explorer of edges, unpacking the forces inside organizations for over 30 years. Look for more here on the #orgdna blog, on Medium – or for the deepest dive to date, over on Amazon.


Will Roles/Edges shift in post-Hierarchy Orgs? | frame for #orgdna #futureofwork 2/19/18

Our conversation on the Future of Work continues, navigating with a Coggle mind map we starting building last Fall.  For February, we’re picking up with our January discussion on actors and roles (see transcript), infusing a new dynamic, the shifting of boundaries and edges.

To get you thinking, here’s a meta question:

In a post-hiearchy organization, where a flat or networked model drives new kinds of interactions, what will be different?  Must our mindset change on how we work to solve problems?

Let’s discuss via Twitter Monday, 2/19 from 9-11pm, using this outline:

  • Q1. In terms of roles, how should actors (catalysts, creatives, connectors) behave without hierarchy?
  • Q2. How might edges or boundaries appear in practice, post-hierarchy?
  • Q3. Are ‘boundaries’ necessary? Are ‘edges’ a better frame?
  • Q4. How should we think about teams in this brave new world?

Share your thoughts. Just drop us comments on this post, or better still, join us live using hashtag #orgdna; additional details are below.

Our conversations are lively.  I hope you’ll join us.

–  Chris Jones @sourcepov in Charlotte NC

 

ABOUT THE GROUP. Over the last 5 years, a self-selecting band of OD thinkers has been discussing the future of the organization, using hashtag #orgdna. The group continues to evolve, with 20-25 active contributors.

ABOUT THE TWITTER CHAT. On any given month, 5-10 of us come together on Twitter for conversation, which is open to all. For the chat itself, we recommend a tweet streaming app like TweetDeck. Just add #orgdna to your tweets, and we’ll start to exchange ideas at the appointed hour. We’re now running 2-hours to accommodate time zones; just join for any part that you’re able.

ABOUT THE TOPIC. Much is being said on “the future of work” and its unfolding dimensions. See Deloitte’s Tom Friedman interview, Use #futureofwork in your tweets for additional cross-over engagement.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR. Chris Jones is a thinker, instigator, and explorer of edges, unpacking the forces inside organizations for over 30 years. Look for more here on the #orgdna blog, on Medium – or for the deepest dive to date, over on Amazon.

 


Actors & Roles: A Deeper Dive | frame for #orgdna #futureofwork 1/15/18

A hearty Happy New Year to you, and thanks for stopping in.  Your timing is good, as we are just now organizing our 2018 agenda.  We’ll continue to use our Coggle diagram as a guide. It’s a topic map we’ve built from prior #orgdna chats, with an infusion of complexity thinking.

For 2018, we’re drilling deeper into the details, for a more pracitical, actionable discussion .. focusing on how the real work gets done.

Let’s use our MON 1/15/18 chat, 9-10:30pm ET, to dive into Stakeholder Factors.  Here’s the preliminary outline, in the form of our chat questions:

  • Q1. Why call them “Actors”? Is it, perhaps, where the action takes place, moving from theory into practice?
  • Q2. Focus on Key Roles: Skills, interests and task demands will vary, but what roles are always essential?
  • Q3. How do Catalysts function? Is this becoming the Leaders primary role?
  • Q4. Why Titles can hurt: Do they sustain calcification?
  • Q5. Long-term Change is hard. Can adapting in real-time be easier?

The conversation may move beyond this outline. This just gets us started.  In fact, the Coggle model we’ve created is evolving with the conversation too, as we learn more.

As a reference during the chat, I’ll insert our latest Coggle map; we’ll be discussing the upper left branch, in yellow.

ORGDNA_FutureOfWork-v1-OCT2017

For more in depth viewing, try the ORGDNA-FutureOfWork PDF .

We’d love your input on all this. Just drop us comments on this post, or to individual members tweeting at #orgdna. Better still, it may be easiest to simply join us live; details are below.

Our conversations are always lively.  I hope you’ll join us.

–  Chris Jones @sourcepov in Charlotte NC

 

ABOUT THE GROUP. Over the last 5 years, a self-selecting band of OD thinkers has been discussing the future of the organization, using hashtag #orgdna. The group continues to evolve, but the number of active contributors hovers around 20-25.

ABOUT THE TWITTER CHAT. On any given month, 5-10 of us come together on Twitter for conversation, which is open to all. For the chat itself, we recommend a tweet streaming app like TweetDeck. Just add #orgdna to your tweets, and we’ll start to exchange ideas at the appointed hour.

ABOUT THE TOPIC. Much is being said on “the future of work” and its unfolding dimensions. Don’t miss Deloitte’s recent Tom Friedman interview, hosted by Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert and their senior strategist John Hagel. Add #futureofwork to your tweets for additional cross-over engagement.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR. Chris Jones is a thinker, instigator, and explorer of edges, unpacking the forces inside organizations for over 30 years. Look for more here on the #orgdna blog, on Medium – or for his deepest dive to date, over on Amazon.


Our Coggle Debut: Join the conversation, as #orgdna maps the Future of Work 10/16/17

First, props to Jamie Billingham for introducing us to Coggle, a mind mapping tool that’s allowed us to capture our preliminary thoughts on the Future of Work.

Now, what’s all the buzz about?

Inspired by Deloitte’s Tom Friedman interview back in July, we’ve started to reflect: What will the future of work look like? How can we shape it? What’s already happening to drive these changes?

Here’s the first “snapshot” release – what we have so far – for reflection and discussion.

ORGDNA_FutureOfWork-v1-OCT2017

For more in depth viewing, here’s a link to the ORGDNA-FutureOfWork v1 PDF version.

Let’s use our MON 10/16/17 chat, 9-10:30pm ET, to dive into this. We can discuss what we’ve captured so far using Q’s 1-4. Are we good with:

  • Q1. To the left, initial conditions: Stakeholders, Trust & Culture?
  • Q2. To the right, outcomes: Platform & Learning?
  • Q3. At the top, unsolved problems; Silos & Transparency?
  • Q4. At the bottom, enablers: Technology?

And then to chart our course for 2018

  • Q5. What can we learn from this model?
  • Q6. What’s next?

We’d love your input. Just drop us comments on this post, or to individual members tweeting at #orgdna. In fact, it’s probably easiest to simply join the conversation (details below).

Lot’s to talk about .. looking forward to where we might take this.

–  Chris Jones @sourcepov in Charlotte NC

 

ABOUT THE GROUP. Over the last 5 years, a self-selecting band of OD thinkers has been discussing the future of the organization, using hashtag #orgdna. The number of active contributors seems to hover around 20-25.

ABOUT THE TWITTER CHAT. On any given month, 5-10 of us come together on Twitter, as available,  for conversation. Please join us. The chat is open to all. For the chat itself, we recommend a tweet streaming app like TweetDeck. Just add #orgdna (and optionally, now, #futureofwork) to your tweets, and we’ll see you at the appointed hour.

ABOUT THE TOPIC. Much is being said on “the future of work” and its unfolding dimensions. Don’t miss Deloitte’s recent Tom Friedman interview, hosted by Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert and their senior strategist John Hagel.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR. A thinker, instigator, and explorer of edges, Chris Jones has been unpacking the forces inside organizations for 30 years. Look for more here on the #orgdna blog, on Medium – or for his deepest dive to date, over on Amazon.