MindShift

TRANSFORMATION – INSIGHT – 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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We-Space revisited.

Tune in to the We-Space Summit:  http://www.thewespacesummit.com with 150 colleagues from all over the world. 

Our own contribution:

Wednesday, October 11: The New Workplace: Panel Discussion with Johann Entz- von Zerssen, Mushin Schilling and Anne Caspari. In this conversation, the three of them are  redefining theWe-Space and presencing in the context of their work with individuals, teams and OD. They begin by framing the emotional dimension of their experience, where they work with helping clients and teams develop the capacity to face the difficult places in their actual experience or “what they cant be with”, in order to establish a more grounded and realist position collectively. In pointing out some of the hazards of conventional presencing approaches, they problematize some of the common presencing assumptions such as “leading from the future as it emerges” and point out the challenges of working with the chaotic messiness of here and now.

By bringing a curiosity for the process and culture organizations are in the middle of, they work with holding the We-Space via Dave Snowden’s work with Sensemaker® by engaging people as a ‘human sensor network’ to enable them to contribute to getting a more accurate picture of what is really happening in their organization or community. This helps develop a participatory engagement in the We-Space through a more experiential and practical approach that empowers people to work from where they are. The conversation ends with clarifying key distinctions between emergence and structures in formal We-Space practice as well as alignment, coherence and other terms of complex adaptive systems.

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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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Publication – Integral Leadership

Jonathan Reams, Anne Caspari (2012) : “Integral Leadership – Generating Space for Emergence through Quality of Presence”, Journal of Wirtschaftspsychologie 3/12

Abstract:

This article outlines a view of integral leadership as integrity with a quality of presence that opens spaces for what wants to emerge. A focus is on describing Heifetz’s notion of adaptive leadership as creating a holding environment for work to be done. This is framed in terms of how integrity, subtle energies and intuition combine with late stage ego development capacities to create a quality of presence that enable requisite spaces to be opened up and held. This view is contextualized in relation to existing discourse in the field and the authors’ experience in leadership development work. In addition to laying a foundation for the view of leadership used, the concept of integral is examined in relation to integrity. This forms the basis for quality of presence, while intuition is shown to be an essential function in the author’s conception of integral leadership. Intuition is explored in relation to stages of cognitive/ego development, which are also explored in terms of their function and contribution to integral leadership. Future lines of inquiry arising from this conception are presented.

Key words: construct aware, integral, integrity, intuition, leadership

Zeitschrift Wirtschaftspsychologie-3-2012


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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


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Shifting Personal Reality

Shifting Personal Reality

The ability to shift personal reality in one’s self and the competency to assist others with their transformation is one of the basic skills for integral mentoring of any kind. This can apply to individual work with leaders, ‘trim tabs’ and change agents, or to collective work with stakeholder groups, organizations  or NGOs. The kind of assistance needed depends on many different factors, such as the unique action logic or kosmic address of everybody involved  (see previous post) and, of course, on the nature of the task ahead.

Yet despite the abundant variables, transformational change follows a very recognizable blueprint that, much like a wave, keeps its pattern integrity. We encounter this archetypal pattern everywhere, a cultural software of the human species. Its epic version is masterfully described in Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey.

The more post-modern version is Scharmer’s U Process for collective transformation and prototyping. The smaller day to day or moment to moment encounter with transformation, like changing a destructive habit, overcoming fear or shadow work either go unobserved or are subject to a myriad of self-help books. Continue reading


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Mapping Transformative Processes with AQAL and Theory U

Mapping Transformation

In international development we see it more and more the need for leaders to play a new 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, that while many experts and change agents are getting frustrated ‘with banging their heads against the same old walls’ in the exterior quadrants (UR & LR), the dynamics and mechanisms of how to go about genuine transformation are still not widely understood. Continue reading