Author Archives: Chris Jones

About Chris Jones

Thinker. Author. Instigator. Dad. Passionate about learning and coffee. Founder of #smchat and #orgdna. Now writing with #coop52

The Workplace is Changing. What Lies Ahead? Join #orgdna in our new #futureofwork series launch

As our conversations continue to explore changes in the workplace, the #futureofwork hashtag has materialized seemingly out of nowhere.

It’s rapidly catching on. You might say it’s caught up with us.

Our last 3 chats on org futures tapping Laloux’s ideas have helped lay the groundwork. You may see some of his thinking in our topic outline, below. Echoes of our conversations on Wheatley are there too. But even more catalyzing, to me, is Deloitte’s recent Tom Friedman interview, hosted by CEO Cathy Englebert and senior strategist John Hagel. Have a look, prior to the chat.

Then let’s use our chat space to distill a few of the key elements for our upcoming #futureofwork conversation, with inputs from Christy Pettit, Allison Honery and me.

Some early ideas for themes to explore include:

  • Purpose at Work | Work-Job Disconnects
  • Job Design
  • Gig Economy
  • Management Models | Anti-Silo Design
  • Roles not Titles
  • Engagement | Collaborative Models | “Radically Open”
  • Virtual Pros/Cons | Work-Life in the Balance
  • Learning at Work
  • Change | Embracing Ambiguity
  • Structure vs. Flow | Push vs. Pull
  • AI in the Workplace
  • Trusting Cultures
  • The New Leader

As always, lots to talk about, with some new ideas on how we frame and unpack changes in the workplace.

Join us MON 9/21 from 9-10:30pm ET to lay out and prioritize series topics. There’s enough content for a solid 6 months of monthly chats. I think it’s worth devoting a chat to a roadmap. Think of it as our chat agenda.

Stop in for the conversation. It’s always lively.

Chris (aka @sourcepov) Charlotte NC

ABOUT THE GROUP. Over the last 5 years, a small group of OD thinkers has been discussing the future of the organization, using hashtag #orgdna. Small, of course, is relative. Our number of active contributors has hovered around 20-25, but any given month, there are 5-10 of us engaged in a dialog on the future of work. 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 AUTHOR. A thinker, instigator, and explorer of edges, Chris Jones has been unpacking the forces at play inside organizations for 30 years. Find his thinking here on the #orgdna blog, on Medium – or for his deepest dive, over on Amazon.


Laloux Part 3: Evolution, Purpose and Complexity MON 7/17 9pET #orgdna

 

Interest in Frederic Laloux’s 2-book series on “Reinventing Organizations” continues at #orgdna. His traditional 2014 business book favors the long form analysis with case studies, end notes, etc. The 2016 illustrated workbook introduces the concepts in a lighter-weight mode, ideal for visual learners .. and twitter chats.

Try to find Laloux’s RO-illustrated (2016) .. we’ll be referring to it.

Meantime, by request of the group, I’ve expanded the frame below to include more detail, to facilitate chat without the book(s) in hand. Let’s look at 6 key ideas in Laloux’s Part 3, his closing analysis:

  • RETHINKING VISION & STRATEGY. Laloux says our century-old predict-and-control mindset, rooted in ego, is the main force blocking better organizations. Obsessing on competition out of fear for survival, he believes, keeps us distracted. But he provides an alternative — Q1. How does a “sense and respond” change problem solving in an organization?
  • EVOLUTIONARY PURPOSE. Citing Brian Robertson of Holacracy fame, Laloux references the analogy of a bicycle ride to describe the discovery and response aspects of adaptive leadership, new processes essential to a teal organization, so let’s ask — Q2. Can the modern company allow the destination, strategy & purpose to evolve? Will Wall Street entertain so much ambiguity?
  • INITIAL CONDITIONS. For Laloux, two conditions are necessary for an organization to evolve: buy-in to teal principles from (a.) leaders and (b.) owners. Are both of these key groups prepared for risk taking, less structure and fundamentally new thinking? Laloux says it’s what’s needed to launch successfully, prompting — Q3. Is buy-in at the top enough, or is more required, such as an enabling culture?
  • HOLDING SPACE. A new skill for teal leaders is bringing and sustaining focus, at least for awhile, amid the chaos that decentralized decision-making can bring, taking us to — Q4. How and when does a leader know to focus, and for how long must it be held?
  • KEY ROLES. While teal CEOs make fewer strategic decisions, the need for leadership is stronger than ever, so — Q5. What current skills can be leveraged as today’s business leaders search for a path to new roles?
  • A SIMPLER WAY. Laloux cites Wheatley, as many of us do, for providing breakthrough thinking on how orgs need to function, using the metaphor of an org as organism over the prevailing metaphor of org as machine. In the organic view, evolution and adaptation are integral to how things work, so let’s ask — Q6. Can new mindsets or metaphors influenced/sparked by complexity thinking help us re-imagine the organization?

Much of this material we’ve covered in past conversations. But Laloux’s framework builds on the ideas in interesting ways, perhaps even actionable ones. I’m excited to find what we’ll learn from this, and where our dialog may take us.

Please plan to join us MON 7/17 at 9pm EDT. We recommend a streaming app like Tweet Deck. Just add #orgdna to your tweets, and we’ll talk then.

Best,

Chris Jones @sourcepov, Charlotte NC US


Frederic Laloux: On Reinventing Organizations, an Evolutionary Model

Many of us talk about change in our organizations, but few have been able to articulate a future state as clearly as Frederic Laloux. In Reinventing Organizations, he outlines a vision, examined both in historical context, and in contrast with other proto-evolutionary stages. For me, his comparitive approach is a useful mechanism to discuss a family of organizational cultures that are as familiar as they are dysfunctional.

I was introduced to the work of Laloux by #orgdna chat member/leader Christy Pettit (aka @odguru). I quickly found his content consistent with the theme’s we’ve been discussing. Thanks Christy!

Perhaps his most divergent, if not revolutionary, idea? Evolution driven by a next stage human of consciousness, further fueled by explicit linkages to complex adaptive systems. Echoes of Senge and Scharmer here of course. Definitely linkages to Wheatley. But there is some useful new thinking as well.

Here are 5 questions to frame our conversation. As always, we may diverge a bit ourselves, as the dialog evolves:

  • Q1. Evolutionary Purpose. A core theme for Laloux. Are his ideas actionable?
  • Q2. Teal, Amber, Red, et al. Do the colors used for Laloux’s organizational models resonate?
  • Q3. Linkages to Human Consciousness. This is a big step. Does it advance our thinking? Or distance it? [Note: The shift Laloux describes is fundamentally a change from Fear/Scarcity to Trust/Abundance. For me, in this more specific context, the abstract leap isn’t quite as hard to navigate as the ‘consciousness’ reference implies.]
  • Q4. Linkages to Complex Adaptive Systems. The implications for orgs and social change keep us wanting to learn more. How has Laloux advanced this?
  • Q5. Forward. What happens next? Are leaders and their organizations ready?

Lots to reflect on, for certain. And lots worth discussing.

Please join us Monday, 5/15/17, at 9:30pm ET, as we discuss Laloux and his ideas. Just add #orgdna to your tweets at the appointed time. To allow conversation, we suggest a streaming app like Tweetdeck, to make sure you see the tweets as they come in.

What is #orgdna !? It’s not just a hashtag. It’s a lively bunch of OD-minded change makers, congregating monthly to compare notes. I hope you will join us!

Chris (aka @sourcepov)

 

Sources and further reading:

  • Laloux, Frederic. Reinventing Organizations (2014). Nelson Parker.
  • Jones, Chris. The DNA of Collaboration (2012). Amberwood Media Group. [Note: I like to think of my first book as a research guantlet, laying down foundations for what’s to come in OD. I pause to list it among these titles, but it contributes to the OD discussion, and it was the early genesis for this chat, started way back in 2012. More on the site you are on, if interested.]
  • Mitchell, Melanie. Complexity, A Guided Tour (2009). Oxford University Press.
  • Wheatley, Margaret and Myron Kellner-Rogers. A Simpler Way (1996, 1999). Berrett-Koehler.

 


Edgar Schein: On the Evolution of OD, Leadership and Group Dynamics

Anyone who has spent time in the study or practice of Organizational Development knows something about Edgar Schein. He has been a central voice in this space for more than 5 decades, with books and papers that have advanced the field. He has helped to unpack what we mean by research and experimentation in the social sciences, and he has guided application of OD concepts through all aspects of teaching, mentoring and consulting.

What might we gain in looking back at his contributions?

The short answer: plenty.

Let’s use our April 17, 2017 #orgdna chat to unpack some of Edgar Schein’s most important and influential views:

  • Q1. Leadership: best defined as a role, not a position. Has Schein’s perspective received traction by CEO’s? Wall Street?
  • Q2. Culture: includes artifacts, values and assumptions; it’s encountered in layers. Which aspects are most fully realized in the practice of modern OD?
  • Q3. “The job of a leader is to create culture” -E.Schein. Agree/disagree?
  • Q4. Group vs. Individual Dynamics. Does a Western culture emphasizing individual achievement fight with a need for group/team learning?
  • Q5. OD Research vs. Practice. Fragmentation may be the enemy. Few B-schools have picked up the torch. Why?
  • Q6. What does Schein see ahead for OD?

The #orgdna chat community is continuing to unpack key trends in the 21st century practice of OD, from leadership to learning. In 2017 we are looking at ideas of key thought leaders. This year we have looked at Peter Block and Chris Argyris. In the past, we’ve looked at Margaret Wheatley, Peter Senge, and Donella Meadows.

The conversation continues. Let us know where else to direct our focus.

Meantime, join us MON 4/17 9pm EDT for our next #orgdna. We suggest a streaming app like TweetDeck. Just include #orgdna in your tweets, and we’ll see you online.

Chris (aka @sourcepov)

More on Edgar Schein? Try these resources:


Chris Agryris: “On Organizational Learning” .. up next at #orgdna

Examining ideas of OD thought leaders is a vital thread for the #orgdna community. Some of our best discussions resolve around ideas of the masters like Peter Senge and Margaret Wheatley. Most recently, we checked in with the thinking of Peter Block.

One takeaway: it’s usually not the theory that eludes us, but the application.

It’s time to check-in on the ideas of Chris Argyris, a powerful force of the 1980’s and 1990’s, whose timeless ideas about organizational learning still offer insight today. His seminal On Organizational Learning first appeared in 1992.

We’ll use the following discussion outline for our chat.

  • Q1. Argyris was among first to cast light on dysfunctional orgs. What did we learn?
  • Q2. For Argyris, Double Loop Learning is to adjust our learning approach when we see gaps. Has this theory worked in practice? 
  • Q3. How might adaptive, Double Loop Learning be applied in today’s org?
  • Q4. What did Argyris teach us about the viability of learning culture? What gaps must we tackle?
  • Q5. What did Chris Argyris achieve that others had not?

I already feel this discussion will be valuable. As OD students and practitioners, if we can figure out how to move the needle on the status quo, our chat may prove a good example of double loop learning in practice.

I hope you’ll join us Monday 3/20 at 9pm EDT. It’s always lively. Just join the conversation on Twitter with hashtag #orgdna. We recommend a streaming app like TweetDeck.

The rest is up to you. See you online.

Chris (aka @sourcepov)


A Time for Sense Making: Then, as Now, Our Understanding Evolves

While the search for understanding can be traced back to the ancient greeks, the modern take on sense making has a history of it’s own.

Space will not allow for a full accounting, but I see four primary vectors to help us track its modern evolution, unwinding both the practice and promise of sense making in modern terms. Consider:

  • Dervin (1983, 1992, 1996), and Russell, et al (1993, 2009) – on the human-computer interface, with the earliest explorations on the psychology of recognition and understanding.
  • Klein, et al (2006) – studying frame-to-data, and data-to-frame matching as a means to test patterns observed, advancing the earlier work of Cohen, et al (1996) and Piaget (1972,1977).
  • Weick (1979, 1988, 1993) – exploring organizational implications, with 7 discrete properties in the sense making process in groups or teams; without delving into them in detail, they are:
    • Identification – the role/sense of self, as it relates to the observed
    • Retrospection – looking back, considering the function of time
    • Narrative, discourse, and feedback – developing context and understanding via story, often through real-time dialog
    • Cues – using familiar points of reference
    • Plausability – establishing viability of scenarios
  • Snowden, et al. (2003, 2007) – with the “Cynefin” framework, introduced complex and chaotic scenarios, in contrast with the simple, the merely complicated, and the hopelessly disordered; with this more robust landscape, real world situations were more accessible, or at least visible.

How have these understandings evolved?  Has sense making come of age?

This, of course, will launch a good discussion, if not a healthy debate. In our #orgdna chat MON 2/20/17 at 9:00pm ET, let’s explore this question with the following frame:

  • Q1. HCI as Foundation. Was the early research important to what came after?
  • Q2. Klein and Pattern Matching. How influential have patterns become re: sense making & complexity? Are we returning to foundations?
  • Q3. Weick on Narrative. Has story consumed our dialog in the modern framing of sense making? For better or worse?
  • Q4. Snowden & Complexity. How has Cynefin changed the sense making dialog?
  • Q5. Futures. What is the path to practical application for sense making?

Our back story? The #orgdna chat community has been meeting since late 2012 on topics from leadership to learning, most often focused on the social dynamic.

To what end? Making sense of it all, of course. This topic is right up our alley.

Our conversations are typically lively. Just add #orgdna to your tweets at the appointed hour. We recommend a streaming app like TweetDeck. After the conversation, we’ll share a PDF transcript. And there’s likely to be a follow-up chat on a related thread. We do this every 3rd Monday, 9pET/6pPT.

Props to group member Christy Petit, who helped me shape this conversation.

Intrigued? I certainly am. The rest is up to the group. Hope to see you online Monday night.

Chris (aka @sourcepov, now on Medium)


Peter Block: Better Questions for Orgs in 2017, moving from How? to Why?

We’re kicking off our #orgdna conversation for 2017. For me, there’s no place better to start than a focus on the top questions facing orgs and their leaders. For that, there’s no better thought leader to tap than the purveyor of the better question himself, Peter Block.

In late 2012, on the heels of getting my first book out, I read both of Block’s successful primers: The Answer to How, is Yes (2002) and Community: The Structure of Belonging (2009).

Together they create an excellent structure for online conversation.

Block introduces key elements of collaborative dialog, and methods to frame social change, in general. We conducted a Peter Block book disussion at our #k12 #ecosys chat in April 2013. On reviewing it, I found the frame excellent for our next #orgdna. Let’s reuse the basic structure, with focus on the first book. Here’s an excerpt of the 2013 #ecosys frame:

Block’s ideas are 100% congruent with what I’ve seen in a variety of social Twitter-based communities. Careful question framing changes our ability to recognize new possibilities. Better questions lead us to a dialog on what matters most.

I’ve updated the #ecosys questions just a bit for #orgdna, focused more on the modern organization (noting that public schools remain “in scope”):

  • Q1. Block argues “How?” bypasses questions of intention. Agree? Why?
  • Q2. The right questions, Block says, are those that get us to focus on what matters. What are some examples?
  • Q3. Flexible Structures. What are source/means for adaptive behavior?
  • Q4. Learning Organizations. Inspired by Senge, how does this happen in +2017?
  • Q5. Updated Guidance. Much has happened in OD since 2002. What would Block and others add to this dialog?

Food for thought, without a doubt. And we’ll use our takeaways to fuel follow-on frames.

Please join us on Twitter.  The discussion will be MON 1/16/17, 9pm EST. We’ve been going about 90 minutes, as we work to accommodate multiple timezones and west coasters. Simply add #orgdna to your tweets. We recommend a streaming tool like TweetDeck, to follow the conversation.

There will be more book-based #orgdna discussions in 2017. Besides, Block, we should look at Margaret Wheatley again, and most certainly others. Please weigh in on a proposed sequence. The only requirement is to keep the discussions practical and accessible. It’s okay to tap theories, as long as we don’t get stuck there.

Hope you’re excited for the new year with #orgdna. Let the conversations and deep learning resume.

Chris (aka @sourcepov)