Second, a sketch! Well, Jason, it isn’t really a sketch. It is a visual decision tool!
That offered, there is SO MUCH to say about visuals as a tool for change. Recently a small group of #liberatingstructures practitioners pooled our LS visuals in a photo album and my mind went crazy with possibilities. Take a peek. https://goo.gl/photos/HhfmWEsihK35SpoT7 .
For me, one of the essential qualities of visuals, particularly the hand drawn visuals we make during the process of our interactions and meaning making, is that they are imperfect, beg questions and open conversations, rather than “definitively” nail something with certainty. In complex contexts, certainty is often a false friend.
Third, well, Peter, it was a beautiful and rare sunny weekend in Seattle and I really don’t understand this #KSS and #K4DP stuff — I don’t even know what that last hashtag represents, so I’ll have to disappoint you. Sorry! So I allowed the garden to lure me instead of trying to figure it out. I guess age has it’s priveledge!
For my friends at Trusted Sharing (an amazing platform, by the way), there was a post I had been meaning to write so I used your prompt to get it done. You can find it here. (I’m having some tech problems, so for the moment the visuals are missing. Grrr..) It certainly is not an exhaustive answer to your question, but maybe a few things to start with.
Finally, Steve, for you… what I’m thinking about these days is not just want I want to write about, but what I want to do going forward. It is transition time, of some sort – always a wonderful and challenging moment in time!
(Note: currently the images on this post have gone missing. I’m working on it!)
I have developed an enormous backlog of things to write about my learnings from my Liberating Structures practice. Sometimes I need a little kick in the keister, so this tweet got me rolling from @TrustedSharing
“Any ideas on events that get people to facilitate using #liberatingstructures? I have a group that wants to learn.”
Events are certainly one way to get people started using Liberating Structures (LS). Earlier this year Tracy Kelly and I facilitated a two day LS Immersion for the education community up in British Columbia and based on some tweets that have followed on, some (many? Who knows) participants have begun incorporating LS into their teaching and administrative meeting practices. Tracy wrote up a great blog post here: http://www.tracykelly.net/?p=1247 and the BC Campus hosts wrote here https://bccampus.ca/2017/04/05/opening-the-flow-of-learning-with-liberating-structures/ . Both posts highlight some very useful ideas and practices for event based invitations into LS and from a specific domain perspective (in this case education, but imagine other domains!)
Having co-led immersions for the past few years and participating in them for longer, the real clincher for me is to make sure the event isn’t just about LS, but looks closely at the real application “back at home/work” for the participants. When you have groups with some shared purpose, this is magic. When your group is heterogeneous, it can be harder to find that “what, so what, now what” hook that helps people not just get an introduction, but to understand the value proposition of using LS to increase engagement in their work and lives. Real stuff. Tracy wrote it well: “Purpose is the new vision!”
Once I was introduced to LS, I thought “yeah, these are good” and then slipped back into my old ways. I needed to experiment and practice with at least one other person to push myself past my own ruts and comfort zones. So after an immersion, it can be super useful to convene lighter, smaller experiences for people to practice, dig deeper and understand how to use LS in their own work. After all, there are tons of riffs, variations and different sequence options.
These groups can be geographic, within a workplace or domain. What matters is getting together. If I use an LS once, that is all fine and good. If I use it twice, I’m beyond the initial twinge of possibility. Repeated use is the “gateway drug” to full use — and all of the rich possibilities of LS.
Here in Seattle we have a deeply playful and creative user group. At the May Seattle users group, Keith (LS co-founder) hosted us to explore “punctuations.” A couple of years ago when some of us retreated for a weekend to play with some emergent structures, I had this sense that we all did these little things in between individual structures, and I described them as punctuation. The term took hold.
When we gathered to play with punctuations, we started with a little meaning making – what DID we mean by a punctuation in the context of LS? Of course, we had to use a little punctuation to elicit our definitions, using a visual riff on Gareth Morgan’s, “What is a Pig” exercise. Hard to see in this picture, but our images had a lot of connectivity and bridging metaphors. Breaths, pauses for soaking in and making sense of an experience. Something that prepares us for what comes next.
Turns out we had some different initial definitions, which grew a bit closer with conversation and some experimentation. For example, Keith was imagining punctuations as affordances for specific structures. For example, how can Fisher Qua’s riffs on Spiral Journal support a deeper “What, So What, Now What?” (There is a picture of the Spiral Journal about half way down this page and hopefully someone is working on writing it up. Hint, hint, you know who you are!) I saw them independent of any particular structure, and called upon as needed, sensing what a group or situation needed. By the end of our What is a Pig Conversation, our senses of the word became intertwined. But darn it, did anyone write down some sort of synthesized definition? I think we were having too much fun.
There were also some emergent threads – maybe principles – that emerged from our play with punctuations.
There are always many riffs and variations. How do we discern when we are riffing for our own love of riffing, and when we are responding to emergent contexts and adapting and iteratively experimenting forward?
Our core group of experimenters is in love with clever language. When do we, as Viv McWater’s says, “put down our clever” from Keith Johnstone- noting when others may feel confused or excluded.
Including many senses might make LS strings (sequences of structures) more flexible and mixable. See the next section for more on this.
Punctuations are flexible and mixable.
They elicit things (this deserves more unpacking!) They reveal things.
They are bridges, synapses.
So practice groups are places for LS to soak in, get clear and “stick!”
Intentional Experiments and Salons
Finally, there are some of us who want to dig in more, play more. A small group here in Seattle have started hosting little experimental “salons” with our first one just a few weeks ago exploring the role of space and movement in the application of LS. You can see a few cryptic pictures here, and yes, I have promised a write up. https://goo.gl/photos/mKNnhtmmNHcrBZ2fA We plan a few more and I am on the hook to organize one around visuals and LS.
That said, there are a few things that became clearer to me as we moved around a beautiful dance studio and reflected on how we use our bodies when we “meet.” The primary driver for these salons and which was clearly visible in the first was we, as facilitators, participants, leaders, engagers, need to remember all our senses. A moving meditation as a group is completely different then asking people to “quietly sit and reflect” in your seats. At the same time, I’ve been working with an amazing network across the developmental disabilities community and I have to carefully attend to abilities and how to invite movement when I’m with a group of diverse people. I’m still feeling quite bad that I did not fully tweak a “Shift and Share” design with quick changeovers that were difficult for folks in wheel chairs. I underestimated the logistical load (not to mention cognitive.) Always learning…When we engage multiple senses, we must attend to design for including everyone.
Finally, the thing that has kept me moving my LS practice forward has been the generosity of my mentors, Keith, Fisher, Neil and many others. From a quick phone call or “over coffee” meeting, to our online spaces in Slack and Linked in, the ability to throw out a question, or offer a string of structures for feedback and critique has done the most to inform, deepen and improve my practice. So @TrustedSharing, if you mentor one, the magic is happening!
Ready for a thinking ramble? Payoff isn’t until the end. Fair warning!
I have found myself pointing to Donella Meadows’ “Leverage Places: Where to Intervene in a System” more and more these days. First surfaced in the Whole Earth Catalog in 1997, and expanded in 1999, the essay resonated with me then and continues today. Read the whole thing, but if you just want to scan the leverage points, check out the Wikipedia article. When I mention the article, everyone starts pulling out their pens, phones or electronic note taking devices. People are hungry for clues about where to intervene in the complex systems within which they work and live. Here are her leverage points:
PLACES TO INTERVENE IN A SYSTEM (in increasing order of effectiveness)
9. Constants, parameters, numbers (subsidies, taxes, standards). 8. Regulating negative feedback loops. 7. Driving positive feedback loops. 6. Material flows and nodes of material intersection. 5. Information flows. 4. The rules of the system (incentives, punishments, constraints). 3. The distribution of power over the rules of the system. 2. The goals of the system. 1. The mindset or paradigm out of which the system — its goals, power structure, rules, its culture — arises.
Her number one leverage place: 1. The power to transcend paradigms. From the Wikipedia article:
Transcending paradigms may go beyond challenging fundamental assumptions, into the realm of changing the values and priorities that lead to the assumptions, and being able to choose among value sets at will.
Many today see Nature as a stock of resources to be converted to human purpose. Many Native Americans see Nature as a living god, to be loved, worshipped, and lived with. These views are incompatible, but perhaps another viewpoint could incorporate them both, along with others.
A bit more from Meadows’ essay on #1 and worth savoring, slowly:
There is yet one leverage point that is even higher than changing a paradigm. That is to keep oneself unattached in the arena of paradigms, to stay flexible, to realize that NO paradigm is “true,” that every one, including the one that sweetly shapes your own worldview, is a tremendously limited understanding of an immense and amazing universe that is far beyond human comprehension. It is to “get” at a gut level the paradigm that there are paradigms, and to see that that itself is a paradigm, and to regard that whole realization as devastatingly funny. It is to let go into Not Knowing, into what the Buddhists call enlightenment.
People who cling to paradigms (which means just about all of us) take one look at the spacious possibility that everything they think is guaranteed to be nonsense and pedal rapidly in the opposite direction. Surely there is no power, no control, no understanding, not even a reason for being, much less acting, in the notion or experience that there is no certainty in any worldview. But, in fact, everyone who has managed to entertain that idea, for a moment or for a lifetime, has found it to be the basis for radical empowerment. If no paradigm is right, you can choose whatever one will help to achieve your purpose. If you have no idea where to get a purpose, you can listen to the universe (or put in the name of your favorite deity here) and do his, her, its will, which is probably a lot better informed than your will.
It is in this space of mastery over paradigms that people throw off addictions, live in constant joy, bring down empires, get locked up or burned at the stake or crucified or shot, and have impacts that last for millennia.
“Evolutionary theory’s individualistic turn coincided with individualistic turns in other areas of thought. Economics in the postwar decades was dominated by rational choice theory, which used individual self-interest as a grand explanatory principle. The social sciences were dominated by a position known as methodological individualism, which treated all social phenomena as reducible to individual-level phenomena, as if groups were not legitimate units of analysis in their own right (Campbell 1990). And UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher became notorious for saying during a speech in 1987 that “there is no such thing as society; only individuals and families.” It was as if the entire culture had become individualistic and the formal scientific theories were obediently following suit.
Unbeknownst to me, another heretic named Elinor Ostrom was also challenging the received wisdom in her field of political science. Starting with her thesis research on how a group of stakeholders in southern California cobbled together a system for managing their water table, and culminating in her worldwide study of common-pool resource (CPR) groups, the message of her work was that groups are capable of avoiding the tragedy of the commons without requiring top-down regulation, at least if certain conditions are met (Ostrom 1990, 2010). She summarized the conditions in the form of eight core design principles: 1) Clearly defined boundaries; 2) Proportional equivalence between benefits and costs; 3) Collective choice arrangements; 4) Monitoring; 5) Graduated sanctions; 6) Fast and fair conflict resolution; 7) Local autonomy; 8) Appropriate relations with other tiers of rule-making authority (polycentric governance). This work was so groundbreaking that Ostrom was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics in 2009.”
Notice Ostrom’s core design principles. See any relation to Meadows’ leverage points?
Argue more. But do it well (“We don’t need fewer arguments today; we need less stupid ones.”)
Liu gives us three concrete ways of unlocking the patterns and leverage points.
My work has clearly been situated in ever increasing turbulence. Traditional strategic planning? Throw it out the window.Focusing on mission and vision? Unless tied to concrete, actionable purpose, throw it out the window. It is too easy to be lost in our own abstractions and old/stale paradigms. (Thank you Donella!) Building knowledge management systems to capture everything? Fuggedabout it if we aren’t listening to each other (Thank you, Eric!) Trying to work just top down and with existing, rigid governance systems? Do you have all the time in the world? NO, ditch it! (Thank you, Elinor!)
So how am I designing now? Quickly, iteratively, and ruthlessly reflective. My group process practices in the last 18 months reveal a pattern where groups are getting more traction into creating insights on their work, and slightly increased traction on acting on those insights. I attribute this two two things: the application of Liberating Structures and other group processes that are informed by complexity sciences, and the use of emergent visuals to help show the path of thinking, understanding and action. The processes devolve power and responsibility to, as LS says, “unleash and include” everyone. They focus on immediate steps rather than waiting for certainty and perfection. They ask us to question our assumptions, measure our experiments and understand negative and positive feedback loops (Meadows again!) They seek to sidestep the barriers of traditional governance as much as possible without rejecting the participation of those institutions.
People get it. Quickly. The visual practices help bookmark the moments of insight and support telling the story to others.
The traction for action is still a bit elusive. Our reward systems punish many of the behaviors of emergent practices. Power is challenged. And just getting a grip on all the working parts can serve as an excuse to throw one’s arms up and give up. But we won’t give up. Nope. Sadly, Meadows and Ostrom died too young. But their words continue to feed us.
The fabulous Tracy Kelly of BC Campus invited me north to Vancouver to co-facilitate two workshops, one on graphic facilitation in higher education (“VizEd“), and the second a larger team collaborative Liberating Structures 2 day immersion workshop. In keeping with my debrief/reflection practice, here are my lessons from the sold-out GF workshop.
First, it was a joy to collaborate with Tracy. She has the domain skills and expertise and organizing mojo as icing on the cake. She attracts fun and interesting people to her BCCampus offering and she is has a deep sense of fun and playfulness. The whole package. So saying “yes” to Tracy is easy peasy.
The registration information gave a clear snapshot of the day’s plan:
Join us for a hands-on, full-on day of exploring the opportunities and practices of bringing hand made visuals into our teaching and learning. (P.S. “handmade” can mean electronic too!)
We will warm up with some exercises to banish our inner critics, then explore practices for going visual in our work. Bring your challenges! Bring your ideas! Bring your inner learner, your inner teacher and your inner child as we explore visual practices together.
What you can expect:
Tips and practice for basic drawing skills (Courage! Confidence! Color!)
Examples of visual exercises and activities, and where they might be useful in your work in higher education
Explore templates for collaborative visual meaning making
Experiment with the intersection of group process and visuals
THERE ARE NO “ARTIST” PRE-REQUISITES!
What we Planned
We iterated our agenda and then whipped it into final shape the night before. There were so many elements we wanted to include, but had only one day! We pulled exercises from both of our practices. It was interesting to see where we had developed different versions of similar exercises. So we riffed and improvised across our two practices.
The basic building blocks included an visual self introduction using the Liberating Structures Drawing Together, my ever-ever-ever-beautiful favorite “I Can Draw” exercise I learned at an IFVP gathering in New Mexico years ago, a brief exposition of what comprises graphic facilitation, development of the elements of a visual vocabulary, and ways to put it together through space organization, templates and metaphors.
To put this together, we planned to give an overview of sketchnoting, then have them sketchnote/graphically record Tracy interviewing Jason Toal and I. Jason is another fab visual practitioner from SFU.
Then we planned to break into small participant driven groups to Shift and Share around four topics before identifying personal next steps and do a River of Life for evaluation. (Visual agenda on your right!)
We had only an hour to set up the room, so we were blessed by a team of helpers who helped transform the pin boards into paper-covered drawing boards. Never underestimate the labor (or for my Canadian friends, labour!) it takes to set up the room for a graphic facilitation workshop! We had packets with pens, pastels, eraser, pencil, “boo boo labels” and a few other things ready for everyone. People like their goodie bags!
The drawing practice itself is very physical and I’ve learned to encourage people to take care of their bodies right off. I am beginning to work more with communities comprised of people with very different physical and mental abilities. There is a lot I have to learn about useful accommodation.
We had 26 people from various parts of the higher education ecosystem (with just a few classroom teachers). It was a quiet but fearless group. They stepped into every invitation, even at moments of “confusiasm.” They jumped into the self portrait with five simple shapes and used that as a basis for peer self introductions as we got to know each other.
The “I Can Draw” is always a visual feast of color and beauty. That we can fill up a room in 30 minutes with such a visual richness never fails to stun me. So often people walk in with that “but I can’t draw” voice sitting on one shoulder, so this exercise is about freeing oneself of that voice.
We sprinkled some slides with some exposition about visual facilitation practices, mostly to situate the simple drawing practices into areas of application. In the higher education context, there are so many opportunities, from visual planning, visual engagement in the classroom, and visuals for constructing and sharing ideas and information. The main point was that we can incorporate visuals in so many places: we just need to remember to THINK about it!
Tracy had a great version of the “how to draw basic shapes and icons” that I had not experienced before. Everyone started Round 1 at a blank canvas of large paper. We’d demo shapes and icons, they would practice, and we’d step back and look at each others work for inspiration. Supporting these rounds of drawing were resources on the table – various sets of icon cards to peruse and practice, depending on the relevance of an icon to a particular person’s work.
Then they would rotate to the canvas to their right for the second round. So instead of just working on “their” piece of paper, they were working on top of each other’s work. We debriefed not only the drawing, but this experience of layering our work. The rounds included:
Round 1 – circles & spirals with icons that include light bulbs, globes, spiral arrows, balloons, etc
Round 2 = squares, stars, triangles and arrows with icons like computers, phones, buildings, documents, books, barriers, wrenches
Round 3 = people – including star people, stick folks, bean people, spring people, and basic face structures to show a range of emotions. Here we also talked about the cultural implications of how we drew and used color for people.
I liked this better than my version, which was to go from shapes, to people, to arrows and frames and finally to icons for two reason. The groupings helped break things into bite-sized pieces, and it accomplished the “writing over each others work” that I usually do in a separate exercise. So when time is tight, you get “two for one!”
After lunch we gave a few more examples of how to unify and organize visual elements with frames, templates, layouts and metaphors. (Tracy introduced the term “grounds” for these things!) This warmed them up for their sketchnoting/graphic recording practice. Tracy again came up with a great idea for listening and capture practice with “VizEd Radio.” She had a set of domain related questions for Jason and I while people madly sketched, followed by a reflection on what it felt like to try and visually capture a conversation. For me it was great to listen to Jason’s reflection on his practice, and where we had similar and different experiences — important for seeing the diversity of this practice.
During the course of the day people had asked about specific elements of visual facilitation. Our Shift and Share session provided the chance to identify four of these areas for short, collaborative learning huddles. People could spend 15 minutes in each area, getting a taste, or hang out at one for the full hour. The four stations included digital recording, designing visual supports for specific facilitation practices, visuals and the classroom and more on templates and layouts! I regret we did not do any good capture of these sessions. I think we all got lost in the interesting conversations and demonstrations. The photo above is all that remains. Harvest fail!
Finally, we asked people to think about how they would apply their new found/enhanced visual skills when they headed back to their classrooms and offices combined with a short visual reflection of their day. We used River of Life, where you visually draw a river, left to right. The upper left is the past: what you wanted out of or anticipated about the workshop, the middle is the present: what you learned, and the upper right is the future – your next step in using the skills. You can see some samples of the Rivers here: https://goo.gl/photos/iaLHerqP3ZS1K3RBA. We also offered a small visual grid on the way out where they could leave impressions – but I think by then we had fully exhausted everyone!
What We Learned
Here are a few snippets from the evaluation:
85% of respondents said it was a high quality learning experience and 93.8% said they can apply what they learned to their work.
I enjoyed being challenged to approach what I normally do in a new way.
The facilitators created a safe environment for us to try out new ideas. Plus it was just plain fun to get out of the office and do something I have never done before.
I learned so much about some of the basics of visual practice that I feel confident learning more on my own now. That is important! and I also gained confidence in drawing…I learned to let go of the critic and just practice. Okay, the critic is still there and hasn’t been let go of but is quieter.
I learned a lot – both how to draw things and how to use the things I draw
We had some moments of dissonance as well. Some felt the afternoon was not as well structured as the morning. And of course, some loved the food, some did not. THAT is not a problem I have ever been able to solve!
In the mean time Tracy and I have been exchanging our personal reflections via email.
I continue to be invited into fabulous collaborations every time I co-facilitate a graphic facilitation workshop. From Michelle Laurie for our RosViz workshops, to Tracy I am just damn lucky.
Yes, you can do a workshop with results in one day. I used to think we really needed two days which feels like a luxury these days with people so busy and short of time and resources. With each iteration the agenda gets sharper.
USE the darn visual agenda (it was at the far end of a long room… I should have positioned it better)
Don’t overpack the agenda. As I’ve mentioned in other blog posts, I’ll be learning this the rest of my life, but I think we exercised appropriate restraint.
Work hard, hard, hard to reinforce each specific idea for application. In all the hullabaloo, this is so easy to lose.
Get clearer in how I express some of the fundamental ideas. I do get lost in my own obscure jargon. Argh!
I need to practice my own drawing more, but I remained convinced that my imperfection is an invitation not a straight up weakness! 🙂
Have good food. THANK YOU BCCampus!!!
My VizEd course/practice is expanding from a very heavy leaning into graphic recording into broader Viz practices, with specific hooks for supporting education and organization processes. In the future, I will continue to include more smaller scale work than I have done before (bonus: less paper) and give a bit more air time and encouragement for sketch notes. This means my sketch note practice needs to improve too.
I still feel like end of day harvest/how we end isn’t what I want it to be (though I confess I love that I have my “river” from taking your course to look back on). When I do this course solo, we finish by doing our first large scale GR and gallery walk, which is like “yay” and “omg look at it all! we did it!” I like that vibe to launch them OUT the door. But it may not be the most useful for all people, will continue to give thought… (Nancy nods in agreement.)
Clark Quinn has a great provocation on his blog today. I ‘ll share a quote, then reply.
So, many of the things we’re doing are driven by bad implementation. And that’s what I started wondering: are we using smart technology to enhance an optimized workforce, or to make up for a lack of adequate preparation? We could be putting in technology to make up for what we’ve been unsuccessful at doing through training and elearning (because we’re not doing that well).
To put it another way, would we get better returns applying what’s known about how we think, work, and learn than bringing in technology? Would adequate preparation be a more effective approach than throwing technology at the problem, at least in some of the cases? There are strong reasons to use technology to do things we struggle at doing well, and in particular to augment us. But perhaps a better investment, at least in some cases, would be to appropriately distribute tasks between the things our brains do well and what technology does better.
Let me be clear; there are technologies that will do things more reliably than humans, and do things humans would prefer not to. I’m all for the latter, at least ;). And we should optimize both technology and people. I’m a fan of technology to augment us in ways we want to be augmented. So my point is more to consider are we doing enough to prepare people and support them working together. Your thoughts?
While Clark’s question is in the context of workplace learning, it is resonant in far wider contexts. I see it when I’m asked to design group process and gatherings. We are constantly putting “band aids” on instead of addressing underlying issues. We don’t really “prepare people and support them working together.” Why is that? Is it the continued desire for a quick fix, or the deep denial that how we work together matters and making it work more effectively might challenge too many things: power, status quo, cost?
The observation of this problem is neither new nor unique… it is how things often work. So the question is how do we better shine a light on the underlying issues and take immediate steps — however small – for remediation? Rather than throw up our hands and say it is too messy, hard or difficult?
This is where complexity-informed practices come in. From the deep dives into understanding what is happening with sense-making tools like Cognitive Edge’s Sensemaker, to simple, reproducible group practices like Liberating Structures, we can stop shrugging our shoulders and saying “that’s out of my scope of work” or “I can’t do anything about that.” The point is we have to do SOMETHING. Not just plow on from tech innovation to tech innovation. Here are four possible sets of practices that could help us go deeper and do better. Here are four possible sets of actions.
Creative Destruction to Make Space
What one thing, no matter how tiny, can we stop doing to make space for the things we want to try? Before we add a new technology, do we stop using another one? Before we seek a solution to an efficiency problem, can we find out what to stop doing that caused the problem? Cue up Ecocycle or TRIZ, and make some of these now-useless activities visible. So often we strive to manage and scale when we have either grown past the things we are scaling, or they are no longer fit for purpose. We operate in mostly dynamic environments, yet we try and shoehorn everything into an ordered domain. (The complicated and simple in the Cynefin framework. In an ordered domain “cause and effect are known or can be discovered.” Complex and chaotic domains are understood as unordered, where ” cause and effect can be deduced only with hindsight or not at all.”).
Space for Uncertainty and Experimentation
Maybe certainty and obsession with technical fixes is overrated. Earlier this week I participated in an online gathering hosted by Johnnie Moore on Unhurried Conversations. He offered five principles to support unhurried conversations and one was The wisdom of uncertainty. We can use uncertainty to experiment our way into useful solutions, rather than coming up with a “brilliant idea” that may inadvertently build on past weakness. We may miss the underlying preparation. We can use Improv Prototyping to “act our way into knowing.” We can use Helping Heuristics to strengthen our listening before we pounce with our own (half baked?) ideas, giving space to considerations that are lost for those of us who “think by talking.”
Leadership for Spotting and Picking Up Promising Experiments
When we start getting seduced by technological innovation, it reminds me that there are people who see the world differently and can look within and beyond the tech itself and spot the ideas for promising experimentation. Not everyone has these skills to imagine things. We want solutions and we tend to foreclose on them too quickly, or fail to do, as Dave Snowden loves to say, “safe fail” experimentation to test our assumptions and asses the complexity (or not) of a situation. Sometimes that means we are smart enough to notice others with these strengths, and not try and be the “solution maker” ourselves. Approaches such as Wicked Questions , Discovery and Action Dialog, and Critical Uncertainties can help us spot the things we might otherwise rush by.
Right Management of the Right Things
I do not want to dismiss the Ecocycle domain of “maturity.” When there is a useful technical application, we want to bring it productively into the work. Same for process issues. Not everything is uncertain and shifting. The critical issue is HOW we manage these things into maturity, and how do we ensure we don’t repeat the cycle of “getting stuck” when that thing ceases to add value. And how leaders and managers can both work in this quadrant of maturity while at the same time supporting the other three areas of creative destruction, networking and birth. Great leaders and managers do their magic in the maturity quadrant AND support others to deploy their strengths in the unordered domains. Keep a critical eye on what must be destroyed, reimagined/imagined and birthed, even if it is not their own area of expertise and comfort.