MindShift

INSIGHT – TRANSFORMATION – LEADERSHIP


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Driving development vs scaling change

Group transformation processes, much like individual transformative processes, follow different phase with distinctly recognizable stages. According to these patterns, a skilled coach/facilitator can keep the individual or the group in the process. The main task is to counteract the conscious or unconscious attempts to escape or to sabotage the process because of phenomena that are considered uncomfortable, irritating or even painful (e.g. Scott M. Peck’s “Groan Zone/Authentic Chaos”/ R. Kegan’s “Immunity to Change”).   

Individual processes can take the form of individual coaching, intensive retreats in self-leadership with awareness based technologies. They are geared towards reintegrating disassociated parts of the self-system or the dis-identification with mapping errors in the meaning making system of the individual.Group processes can have different intentions that go from more coherence in teams, integrating pathologies, towards more authentic participation, innovation and other emergent properties. Most of the time they are not automatic and require facilitated and committed process work with the respective team or group. In an ideal case, group facilitation requires only those minimum elegant structures that keep the group in process while resisting the temptation to go with any of the easy solutions that inevitably pop up along the way, while constantly scanning the quality of presence that is arising in the group and mirror that back. This would ideally also require a kind of ‘process literacy’ of the participants; the ability to distinguish between the self and the (power) moves of identity. The phases and stages of these processes along with the phenomena normally showing up are pictured above. For further reading on the dynamics of group processes see Bonnitta Roy’s article in Kosmos Magazine or this chapter published on group processes. The process traps and the tools and method to counteract escape mechanisms are pictured in Slides below. Please note that the representation with the U-Figure is oversimplified, these processes are non-linear and can’t be followed as a recipe (e.g. “step 5: find deeper meaning and purpose”.) Each phase is emergent from the prior one and can’t be planned, forced, constructed, or jumped. The figure U makes only sense as a coherent view in hindsight and thus differs from the majority of Theory U applications.

While both individual and group/team processes require time, place, effort, training, personal commitment, nurture, practice and guidance, they have a place in adult – , leadership – and team development as well as innovation training, but not for scaling and shifting larger collectives or organisations. Pictures 4 and 5 show  how working with large scale differs in its approach. Complexity thinking and cognitive science deliver the design principles for sensemaking approaches (see Prof. D. Snowden’s work/Cognitive Edge). Here, we work with triggering people into paying attention (cognitive activation) while they volunteer to deliver real, self-signified, and real time data about what is actually happening as opposed to what should be happening. The shift of the whole collective (change) is an effect of the sum total of all micro-shifts of everyday behaviours and attitudes in a more generative direction, toward an ‘adjacent possible’.

Team training, group processes and leadership development as well as internal capacity building might still be desirable in specific instances to complement this process. However, the beauty of this approach to change is at least twofold:

a) with this approach no one has to go a developmental growth process and are allowed to be who they are and have the values they have, while at the same time shifts and change are possible, and they can chose how. 
Thus, sensemaking is complementing adult development while counteracting the developmental bias seen in many (integral) change initiatives, where larger scale change is seen almost exclusively through the lens of growth to higher levels of consciousness as the only way to solve complex problems. This attitude has a built-in arrogance that, sure enough, creates pushback and resistance to change.

b) it scales, with immediate impact, in real time. This is exactly what we need.

This blog was previously published here.


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Leading change: First in the subtle, then in the world.

If you want to lead change – personal, organizational or societal – you have to intimately know how change works. This includes experiential clarity in knowing how to overcome – and help overcome – resistance towards change. It also includes knowing the ever so subtle, almost unnoticeable shifts in your own inner experience when facing a challenge to change a personal reality in the face of a conscious or unconscious resistance. This is especially true if the change you want to induce is not just incremental change, i.e. getting better at something, but a real transformational shift, or even a paradigm shift, personal or otherwise.

This is what Bill O’Brien or Otto Scharmer talk about, when they tell us how much the `inner place of an intervener´ matters to the success of an intervention.

217868_454397854583456_2109798001_nLeading self comes before leading others. Let us illuminate that ‘blind spot of leadership’ and take a closer look at what happens in our own spaces first. How do you deal with your own personal change? How do you overcome your own resistances when they are well hidden from your own insight and logic? How much do you know your own inner quiet place where you examine your own assumptions, what you are unconsciously knowing (e.g. “I am not good enough”) and can you unlearn what you know? What you are ignoring (“I can’t bear feeling that”)?  Are you aware of what it is you are secretly protecting?  What encountered knowns and unknowns do you leave unexamined? With which consequences?

The answer to these questions lead to the areas, where leaders of change need to develop a kind of mastery that is similar to that of martial arts: In dealing with the inconspicuous, lightning fast impulses, and in handling most uncomfortable pushback, shadow impulses and resistance.

We tend to think that facing change and leading change are about the bold moves, that paradigm shifts are spectacular, that holding unknowns or paradoxes is something very noticeable and in your face. This is not the case –  the trick lies in the subtle, in the almost undetectable vibrational shifts and minute impulses that are going on in the background of your own mind, without you noticing them consciously. Continue reading


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Integral Without Borders

Working with Resistance in International Development –  A Concall with Ken Wilber, Anne Caspari and Integral Without Borders

Our third Integral Without Borders Community Call was on December 7th 2013. Listen to the recording of the call here (a donation to IWB would be appreciated)

The topic of this call was diving deeper into  “Working with Resistance in International Development.”  The call was facilitated by Gail Hochachka of Integral Without Borders. Ken Wilber and Anne Caspari discussed the deeper and finer issues  of Theory U and transformative processes, that Anne had mapped out in her earlier work (Diagrams – working with resistance). We discussed the different phenomena of restistance and adaptive pushback that are usually surfacing as recognizable patterns in these processes and their relationship to stages of development, states of consciousness and the shadow. Then we went also to explore the difference between individual and group processes,  a research on collective insighting with Bonnitta Roy and the Alderlore Insight Center, that Anne is also involved in.  Since all of the participants, including Ken was really interested in this research at this ‘fresh edge of discovery’, we will keep you posted on the outcomes of that. Continue reading


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Integral Leadership: Feeling into the Moment

How does it fit together: intuition, integrity, leadership, (construct) awareness, subtle states? Here is the attempt of an architecture. Presentation at the Integral Theory Conference, San Francisco,  July 18 -21, 2013 

integral leadership caspari

Academic Paper download here: Reams & Caspari_ITC2013

Powerpoint: ITC California 2013 Reams Caspari


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Transformative Processes and Adaptive Pushback

Why are we resisting transformation?

In the global change arena we see more and more the need for leaders to know about what happens in transformative processes inside out in order to play a different game. It is ironic that our best whole systems thinkers are becoming ever more frustrated at the lack of visible change in response to knowledge and evidence about growing threats to sustainability. The problem is more often than not that the intrinsic mechanisms of transformation are still not widely understood nor mastered. Transformative processes that are supposed to respond to adaptive challenges require a fundamental shift in perspective and meaning. In order to be able to design, catalyze, foster or lead such shifts, leaders need to recognize stages, depth and width of the process, need to identify patterns of systemic pushback, know what to do with immunities to change and how to handle the usual resistances and escape mechanisms. Continue reading


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Transformative Workshop January 12/13 2013 in Oslo

Transformative Leadership Workshop –  Taking on the Future: Global Transformation, up-close and personal 
“Where the rubber hits the road”
January 11, 2013, 13.00-16.00, Georg Sverdups Hus, Auditorium 2, University of Oslo Followed by a two-day workshop on personal transformation, January 12-13 Continue reading


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Working with Resistance – a praxis paper.

Working with Resistance – When Reality hits, use its Force

Follow the intensity of your resistance down to its source and sure enough you will find a treasure.

“The difficulty we have in accepting responsibility for our behavior lies in the desire to avoid the pain of the consequences of that behavior” M. Scott Peck

With transformation work, encountering and overcoming resistances is an intrinsic part of the game. In coaching and facilitating transformative change, people naturally face stages of resistance, fear and confusion. This will inevitably trigger escape and protection mechanisms of the self/Self system that come in a multitude of shapes, sizes and flavours.

Many of these take the form of well-rehearsed identities (e.g.spiritual identities, cynical attitudes, attack of coach or method, sudden shift of priorities) that are designed to ‘protect’the coachee from the suspected pain of re-owning deeper lying disassociated parts (shadows). These defence mechanisms can easily sabotage the transformative process. In many cases, the coachee is not aware of these phenomena, but rather strongly identified with them. Kegan and Lahey (2009) define this as “Immunity to Change”, a “hidden commitment”, with an underlying root cause, that competes and conflicts with a stated commitment to change. It is these hidden commitments that cause people to not change and to fail to realise their best intentions. It takes experience to spot such phenomena and to defuse or utilize any deviating construct arising in the space appropriately, in real time. Continue reading