Leading change – Getting started with a Philosophy of Change (free online course)

I am not sure if anyone is still here after our kick-off last year but thought my recent activity fits within the change we discussed earlier.

During the initial introductions, I mentioned that one of the things I can contribute to bringing about change is helping others learn about change processes and what it takes to be a Change Agent.  To that end, I have started to develop a series of online courses on leading change in yourself, your organizations, and society at large.  Free access to the first course in that series is now available at http://skl.sh/2ak3HMc  This course sets the foundation for getting started with what you believe about change and how that impacts your approach.  I also include the “essentials” that must be addressed for successful change to occur.  In return for the free access, I would like to know (1) what difficulties you face leading change so I can prioritize my development efforts and (2) degree of interest in organizing Learning Circles to complement the videos and documents I am preparing.  What I learn from your feedback to this second question will help me determine where to post future courses (platform functionality and student interaction capabilities).


Helping organizations

For the past month, I have been thinking about Bob’s initial invitation and reading all the comments that have been posted. Picking up Bob quoting Grace Hopper, I am taking this opportunity to summarize what I have read and organized everything within some structure that seems to make some sense (to me anyway). Not all of the following are necessarily mutually exclusive and may be considered in various combinations. Note also that each item below can easily be expanded to fully define what might be accomplished. Ask questions if anything below is new to you or conflicts with what you already know. (The use of A1i numbering is hopefully sufficient to support a discussion using a shorthand to individual items.)

Q1 Who is our target audience?
A. Ourselves (peer-focused) serving as change agents.
B. Managers who can lead organizational change within their area of organizational responsibility.
C. Change agents across the organization, working for change within their area of influence.
D. Laymen, managers with some training & experience, and/or subject matter experts.
E. Something else.

Q2 What comprises the “essence” of what change we desire?
1. Organisational psychotherapy (or therapy) – how might this be summarized in a sentence or two? One definition put forth by Bob is “Organisational Therapy offers a non-directive approach to addressing some of the dysfunctions present in any organisation. It allows the organisation to grow in self-awareness and capability by seeing itself more clearly, and then finding its own solutions to some of its more pressing issues.” (There is some danger is having too much focus on abnormal vs. normal organizational behavior. Another concern is setting expectations for ethics and professional certification that is carried by the term “psychotherapy.”)
2. Define a new practice (set of diagnostic & prescriptive practices) to bring about healthy organizations.
3. “Something” to help change agents be effective in delivering upon the change vision they desire.
4. Help organizations identify and solve core problems. (The type and scope of consultation may need to be narrowed somehow.)
5. Help organizations move from “adequate” to “excellent.” This assumes that even healthy organizations can grow to become even better.
6. Any differentiation in type of change? Strategic, transactional, transformative, continuous, etc.
7. Clarification of scale – changing individuals, changing organizations, and/or working to change something much bigger and more ambitious
8. Clarification on target stage(s) of change: gaining awareness that change is needed, understanding what needs to change, preparing for change, determining how the change process can be managed, and/or consolidating change within the culture.
9. Application of neuroscience, complexity science, self-organization,and other new learning to organizations and the people who inhabit them.
10. Something else.

Q3 How do we approach delivering upon our vision?
i. Establish a Community of Practice (CoP)
ii. Body of knowledge on change leadership that change agents can use just-in-time as needed.
iii. Encouragement of change agents so they can move through the difficult times that are often encountered when leading change.
iv. Shared practices that are shared among the follows.
v. Champion systems thinking to root out core problems and help get beyond the symptoms.
vi. Self-help and/or walking the path with expert assistance.
vii. Book and/or training courses that provide a revenue stream for those involved.
viii. Something else.

Please (1) contribute your thoughts to see if we might expand this list and then (2) we can narrow it down to our initial focus sufficient to move forward to do something. (Does anyone have access to an online survey tool that might be used?)


This discussion is also posted on LinkedIn so those involved can easily share their profile and contact information. https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8428096

I will take it upon myself to coordinate and align the key discussion points until a consensus builds on where people would like to call “home” for this discussion. At some point, I would like the core group to gather on Slack with the wider follower list remaining connected via a public discussion.

Organizational Psychotherapy

Organizational psychotherapy has been mentioned in a number of posts in different contexts, but I have not seen a clear working definition spelled out in some detail. How do you define organizational psychotherapy in a sentence or two?

Initial reading list

An early discussion recommended three books to form the initial foundation for what this group might become. I have now reread the books and provide a brief summary of each book’s focus below. What other books or articles might provide some focus?

Sheridan, R. (2013). “Joy, Inc.: How we built a workplace people love”
Joy, such that people look forward to going to work. (culture change)

Lencioni, P. (2012). “The advantage: Why organizational health trumps everything else in business”
Focused on building a strong, cohesive leadership team, establishing clarity & alignment of direction, cross-organization communication that has line-of-sight, and clarity reinforcement through HR and management practices.

Chase, R. (2015). “Peers Inc.: How people and platforms are inventing the collaborative economy and reinventing capitalism”
Building the sharing economy using underutilized resource capacity.

This discussion has also been posted to the LI group where people can share their thoughts and view each other’s profile.

How can we connect?

I have had a couple conversations with Bob about the Mirrormere project and this post comes out of our last chat.  Bob’s initial invitation inspired me to put my hand up and say “I’m in”.  I know many others did too.  For myself, it’s very early days for this project, though what I bring to it, and what all of you bring to it, is the result of many years of work, reflection, experience, visioning and perhaps, frustration, disappointment and even anger.

My “I’m in” response was to Bob’s call, however the community will be the curriculum, if you like, and the curriculum will be the community.  In other words, it will be up to all of us to work out with each other what Mirrormere is.  It seems to me that we still need to know what we are getting into, but the thrill of a venture like this is that “what we are getting into” is entirely dependent on what we throw into the mix, how well we get on with each other and how we synthesise all our respective bits.

What sits with me at this very early stage of the project are questions such as these:

  • “Do I belong here?”
  • “Who else is here?”
  • “How can we begin to form into a community?”

Drawing on my own learning, experience and work in the area of sociometry, one of the most useful ways for me to find answers to these questions is to reach out and invite you to have conversations with me.

It seems to me that in order for us to move from being a group of people connected mainly via Bob and his initial invitation, to becoming more of a community, that “getting to know” stuff needs to happen…at least for me it does.  It helps me to find out how I am connected to you, what things we share, what differentiates us, what we bring that complements the other, what visions, desires or aspirations we share.  It can help us to begin to find ways of being and working alongside each other, even (and maybe especially) if this is virtual.

So this post is an invitation for everyone to begin connecting with everyone else.  I’m fortunate that Bob and I live down the road from each other (which I’ve only recently discovered to my delight), however, when I look at the list of interested folks, we are spread far and wide.  Let’s make this manageable and enjoyable.  There is a list of fellows with contact details.

I suggest that we might start with some one-to-one Skype calls (other video chat applications are available), beginning to weave our relationships together in an easy way.  Then, let those of us who do this, post a brief digest of what emerged in the conversation, in a way that allows the wider group to begin to know something of who everyone is, what is going on in the wider reaches of the group (so that we are aware that life is beginning to flourish) and perhaps something of those aspirations, visions, life (and work) experiences that lead us to be drawn to Mirrormere.  Perhaps the folks who do one of these skypes could co-write a brief post for this blog.

Happy to hear comments and further suggestions that add on what I’m putting out.  Also happy to begin this connecting up with you.  Best place in the first instance to get hold of me is via @JohnQShift on Twitter.

Warmly, John



What Do You Need?

And more specifically, what do you need to actually step up to the plate and DO something for this community and your fellows?

– Bob

P.S. For context, see e.g. The Antimatter Principle


What Does It Mean To Be A Fellow?

I’d be interested to hear your take on this question.

– Bob