Although we begin ‘with the end in mind’, we do need first to define what we mean by Organizational Culture before exploring the link with the Creative Interchange Process.

The definitions of Organizational Culture

If you want to provoke a vigorous debate, start a conversation on organizational culture. While there is universal agreement that (1) it exists, and (2) that it plays a crucial role in shaping behavior in organizations, there is little consensus on what organizational culture actually is, never mind how it influences behavior and whether it is something leaders can change.

This is a problem, because without a reasonable definition (or definitions) of culture, we cannot hope to understand its connections to other key elements of the organization, such as structure and leadership. Nor can we develop good approaches to analyzing, preserving and transforming cultures. If we can define what organizational culture is, it gives us a handle on how to diagnose problems and even to design and develop better cultures.

In our work, and thus in these series of blogs, we use the following definitions:

“We are what we repeatedly do.” Aristotle

Culture is consistent, observable patterns of behavior in organizations.  This view elevates repeated behavior or habits as the core of culture and deemphasizes what people feel, think or believe. It also focuses our attention on the forces that shape behavior in organizations, and so highlights an important question: are all those forces (including structure, processes, and incentives) “culture” or is culture simply the behavioral outputs? Therefore we add:

“Organizational culture defines a jointly shared description of an organization from within.” 

Culture is a process of “sense-making” in organizations. Sense-making has been defined as “a collaborative process of creating shared awareness and understanding out of different individuals’ perspectives and varied interests.” Note that this moves the definition of culture beyond patterns of behavior into the realm of jointly-held beliefs and interpretations about “what is.” It says that a crucial purpose of culture is to help orient its members to “reality” in ways that provide a basis for alignment of purpose and shared action. Please note too that this definition uses the left side of our Crucial Dialogue Model.

“Organizational culture is the sum of values and rituals which serve as ‘glue’ to integrate the members of the organization.”

Culture is a carrier of meaning. Cultures provide not only a shared view of “what is” but also of “why is.” In this view, culture is about “the story” in which people in the organization are embedded, and the values and rituals that reinforce that narrative. It also focuses attention on the importance of symbols and the need to understand them — including the idiosyncratic languages used in organizations — in order to understand culture.

“An organization, a living culture that can adapt to reality as fast as possible”

Finally, cultures are dynamic. They shift, incrementally and constantly, in response to external and internal changes. So, trying to assess organizational culture is complicated by the reality that you are trying to hit a moving target. But it also opens the possibility that culture change can be managed as a continuous process rather than through big shifts (often in response to crises). Likewise, it highlights the idea that a stable “destination” may never — indeed should never — be reached. The culture of the organization should always be learning and developing.

In this first blog I will further introduce and use the Schneider Culture Model based on Schneider’s book “The Reengineering alternative: A plan for making your current culture work”. This model has been chosen because it leads to actionable plans.

What is a culture model? A culture model tells us about the values and norms within a group or company. It identifies what is important as well as how people approach each other end work together.

Schneider Culture Model

The Schneider Culture Model defines four distinct cultures:

  1. Collaboration culture is about working together;
  2. Control culture is about getting and keeping control;
  3. Competence culture is about being the best;
  4. Cultivation culture is about learning and growing with a sense of purpose

The diagram below summarizes the Schneider Culture Model. Each of the four cultures are depicted – one in each quadrant. Each of the four quadrants has:

  • A name;
  • A descriptive “quote” that characterize that quadrant;
  • Some words that characterize that quadrant.

Please take a moment to read through this picture and get a sense of where your organization fits.  Please click on the picture to make it bigger and  remember that Organizational Culture means “How we do things around here to succeed!”

Schneider0

There are also two axis that indicate where the focus of an organization is:

  1. Horizontal: People Oriented (Personal) vs Company Oriented (Impersonal)
  2. Vertical: Reality Oriented (Actuality) vs Possibility Oriented (‘Future’)

This provides a way to see relationships between cultures. For example, Control culture is more compatible with Competence and Collaboration cultures than with Cultivation culture.

“All models are wrong, some are useful” – George Box, statistician

I’ve knonw this truth for years, therefore I developed a Cause and Effect model since I was not content any more with Birds’ Domino Model (which he derived from Heinrichs’) and the MORT (Management Oversight and Risk Tree) Model. Heinrich’s model ‘blamed’ the worker or his education, Bird blamed the Safety Management System and MORT blamed Top Management. My Filter tower model is wrong I know, and it has been very useful to understand the causes of the causes of the causes of Accidents.

Key points about culture

  • Management guru Peter Drucker says “Culture… is singularly persistent… In fact, changing behavior works only if it is based on the existing ‘culture’”;
  • “Culture eats Strategy for breakfast” is another quote most often attributed to Peter Drucker;
  • In the Schneider Model, No one culture type is considered better than another;
  • Depending on the type of work, one type of culture may be a better fit;
  • Schneider suggests that most companies have a single dominant culture with elements from the other three culture quadrants;
  • Departments, groups or even teams within a group may have different sub-cultures (e.g. maintenance vs operations);
  • Differences can lead to conflict.

How to make Culture Work

The starting point for making Culture work is understanding it. The book describes a survey that can be used to evaluate the organization’s culture: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/VVNT5FB  .

There are several suggestions for using cultural information to guide decision making:

  • Evaluate key problems in the context of culture. Sometimes changes are needed to bring the actual culture into alignment with the needed culture (for the transformation who is critical)
  • Sometimes the culture is too extreme, for instance too much collaboration without the necessary competence, and therefore elements from other cultures are needed to bring the organization into balance;
  • Consider the possibility of creating interfaces and connectors to undo the mismatches between departments, groups or teams.

 

 

Although the personality typology of Jung is ‘under discussion’ nowadays and the Myers-Brigs Type Indicator (Myers, 1962), that is based on it, is complete ridiculed by my friend Pedro De Bruycker (@theband): http://theeconomyofmeaning.com/2014/07/23/interesting-read-why-the-myers-briggs-test-is-totally-meaningless/ , I still had fun to see how Jung’s personality typology is linked to ‘my’ Crucial Dialogue Model. First of all, I’ve never been fond of the MBTI and somehow I lovedJung’s typology. Tthe little tweet conversation I had with Pedro yesterday was the trigger for this blog.

While struggling with organizational problems, managers – as I’ve witnessed whole my life – spend most of their time in gathering and assimilating information and making decisions on that information. So my Crucial Dialogue Model, since it is based on the mother or Meta process of learning, the Creative Interchange Process, is extremely helpful in this difficult and recurring task of all managers.

There are different ways in doing ‘problem solving’, depending on the manager’s personality traits and the nature of the problem itself. In my earlier blog of this month I’ve been talking about the link between Problem Solving and the Crucial Dialogue Model, where we have been concentrating on the different steps involved in managing complex problems. In this blog I’ll dig into the link between the personality typology of Jung and the Model. The personality typology of Jung has been used extent fully in explaining the effect of individual differences on organizational behavior. Specifically, Jung’s framework argues that people have different ways of taking in information and then taking decisions.

The taking in of information and understanding  of it is the left side of the Crucial Dialogue Model, the finding the possible solutions to the problem and the taking of decision the right part.

THINK-DO_eng

Indeed in order to understand appreciatively the information which is gathered, one has to gain insight and THINK and in order to solve the problem one has to find the solutions, make a choice and DO it. And don’t forget what Yoda (and my father some twenty years before) said: “No, don’t try! Do or do not, there is no try.”

According to Jung, there are two basic ways in which people take in information: intuition and sensation. Intuition refers to the preference for taking in information of the whole rather than the parts.  Intuition is based on possibilities, hunches, or future implications of a situation. It focusses on extrapolations and the unique relationships between the pieces of information, what cannot been seen or touched directly.  In contrast, sensation refers to the preference of taking in information directly by the five senses. Sensation focuses on the parts, the facts, the specifics of a situation, the hard data – what can be seen, touched, smelled, and so on. Thus sensation focusses on the parts themselves, while the focus of intuition goes beyond the parts. So according to Jung people develop a preference for one or either mode of taking in information. Of course people can theoretically apply either intuition or sensation when required; they may be unable to do each equally well. In fact, the information gathering mode that is not preferred regarded as a people’s weaker function or ‘blind side’. In my life I was learned, as an engineer, to look at the hard data, facts and figures, and I was more or less forced to make from the intuition mode my ‘weaker side’. Intuition was mostly disregarded. My first boss often said to me: “proof it!” If you can’t proof it, it doesn’t exist. Sometimes my intuition could be proofed by facts, sometimes not, and then I had to drop my intuition intake.

There are two basic ways in which people arrive at decisions thinking and feeling. Thinking refers to a very impersonal, logical, analytical preference for making a decision. If this and that is true, then such and such follow, based on logical analysis. Feeling, in contrast, is a very personal, subjective, unique way of making a decision. Does the person like the solution? Does it fit with her values and the image she has of herself? While the development of such a conclusion is not logic per se, it is not per definition illogical either. Feeling is alogical – simply based on a different style of reaching decisions. Just as they do with sensation and intuition people develop a preference for either thinking or feeling. Although they can apply either when required, they may be unsure of themselves when they rely on their blind side for decision making.

The Crucial Dialogue Model has two decision points. The first has to do whether we see the problem as ‘our problem’. In other words ‘do I accept the ownership of the problem?’ At this decision point, the thinking has been done to appreciatively understand the problem, we’ve SEEN it. The decision ‘will or won’t be do something about it’ is mostly done by feeling, and hopefully by using, what I’ve often done, the serenity prayer:

Serenity-Prayer1

Or in Crucial Dialogue Model language:

SEE-FEEL-DO

At the second decision point the question “Which set of solutions, created by the third phase of the Crucial Dialogue Model, will be chosen?” will be answered.

The two personality characteristics associated with information taking and decision taking result in four personality types: intuition-feeling (IF), intuition-thinking (IT), sensation-thinking (ST) and sensation-feeling (SF). Each personality type is most suitable for a different step in problem solving.

Jung

The IF (intuition-Feeling) person enjoys ambiguous situations. Such people prefer looking in the future and all its possibilities and use very personal criteria for deciding what is important to consider. Such people thrive on dynamic complexity; they function best when there is a minimum of structure or whena problems and solutions are not defined yet. The IF persons are most confident with steps One, Three, Four and Seven of problem solving: Sensing problems, Appreciating data, Accepting the Problem and Evaluating Outcomes. Because of their preferences, however, they become uneasy when faced with the structured aspect of the process – their blind side.

The IT (Intuition-Thinking) persons enjoy looking at complex situations from different global perspectives. Such people are attracted to abstract discussions; get bored with well-structured and routine problems, and do not like details. NT persons, therefore, are most confident with Step Three of problem solving, appreciation of the problem. They like to investigate different problem definition, and to synthesize those into one. Because of their preference for thinking, they need the help of others who have indicated that there is an existing problem.

The ST (sensation-thinking) person enjoys the well-structured aspects of problem solving. Such people choose a certain solution on the basis of a logical, impersonal analysis. ST people seek single answers to most questions and prefer a black and white thinking: either right or wrong, using some quantitative tool (for instance a cost-benefit calculation). It is not surprising that ST persons are most confident with dealing with Step Five of problem solving: deriving solutions. They are less confident with dealing with ambiguity and uncertainty, with subjective criteria and personal feelings.

The SF (sensation-feeling) person enjoys interpersonal interactions. This activity satisfies their preference for the immediate experience as well as for being with people. SF people are concerned with the special needs and aspirations of all their colleagues in the organization. SF persons therefore are most confident with step six of problem solving, implementing solutions. Their personal sensitivity and warmth enable them to feel how any solution might affect the quality of life for the members of the organization.

These descriptions of personality types portray extremes. In fact, all types can function in all steps of the problem solving and we need all types to have success in problem solving. Knowing the four characteristics can help to see the problem and the solutions as a whole. One should strive to encorporate ‘both/and & diffferent from mindszt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Problem solving and the Crucial Dialogue Model

This morning I had a tweet conversation with David Ducheyne in which he stated that the Creative Interchange Process is the answer to many questions. Hallelujah, he’s right! To underline his statement this blog will treat the answer to the question “How do you solve complex problems?”

We at VOF LCCB use our Crucial Dialogue Model to solve complex problems, and this model is entirely based on the four characteristics of Creative Interchange and is thus an application of the Creative Interchange Process.

THINK-DO_eng


The Model is used starting in the Middle and then one goes through the Lemniscate the following way: Communication à Appreciation à Middle à Imagination à Transformation à Middle.

If after the ‘first round’ something still needs attention, the cycle is repeated.

Step one: Sensing the Problem

First of all, in order to solve a problem it should be sensed: someone in the organization senses that something is wrong, that there is probably a problem. A problem is defined as an unacceptable gap between what (the actual reality) is and what should be (the desired reality). If the gap is big enough the problem is sensed.

Any indicator, formal or informal, can be used to sense whether a problem exists. Some of these indicators are ‘hard’ ones: the number of accidents, high turnover or absenteeism, increasing customer complaints … Aside of these ‘hard’ measures, any sign of culture fixation may signal a significant problem: general apathy, extreme resistance, anxiety, deep frustrations, disruptive behavior. Once an indicator crosses the threshold of what is accepted, some members of the organization usually sense that a problem exists.

Denying the existence of a problem does not solve the problem. If it is really a problem and it is not addressed, the problem will grow as a cancer. The other side of this coin is that some members of the organization believe there is a problem, when in fact there is none. When an organization is too sensitive regarding fluctuations in indicators and therefor initiate problem solving efforts and ‘jumps to conclusion’, time and resources are wasted with bringing something in control that in fact is in control.

The question “Who’s responsible of sensing the organizations’ problems?” has a simple answer: Everybody. Therefor there should be trust and openness in the organization. The tools of the first phase of the crucial dialogue model can help to raise the levels of trust and openness. This first phase is in this ‘step plan’ step number two.

Step two: Defining the problem

Once somebody has sensed that a problem exists, the next step is to discover just what the problem is. Essentially the probable causes of the problem will define the problem, this in contrast to the symptoms. Symptoms are the results of the problem, for instance higher number of accidents, while the definition of the problem is the reason why these results took place. The objective of this step is to work backward from the symptom to determine what caused it.

Therefore, all facts, observations and objective data are gathered, in order to define correctly the problem. We have already mentioned that the basic conditions for this phase are Trust and Openness. What we’ve learned using the Creative Interchange Process and its application the Crucial Dialogue Model is that the use of the tools enhance the basic conditions. Indeed using the phase one behaviors: ‘Asking the crucial question’, ‘Advocacy and Inquiry’, use of Non-Verbal Communication and, most of all ‘Confirmed Paraphrasing’, will finally enhance Trust and Openness.

At the end of this step all facts, observations and objective data are filtered so that no interpretations or coloring of the fact took place. Then we are ready for the next step.

Step three: Appreciation of the Problem

With this we mean the second characteristic of the Creative Interchange Process: Appreciatively Understanding. We don’t just have to understand the facts; we also have to appreciate them. Here the mindset of the people in the problem solving group is extremely important. More often than not people assume that their view of the world (their frame of reference, specialty) defines the essence of the problem. The late Stephen Covey use to say: “The way you see the problem, is the problem”. Professionals wear blinders in order to become specialists and finally see only what they can see. This biasing effect is reinforced by the personal traits of the persons’ mindset and sometimes by the group itself (which puts pressure on the members to see the problem a certain way, a.k.a. ‘Group Think’).

Any problem appreciation arrived at through tunnel vision can result in an error in the understanding of the problem. We have to go out of our comfort zone, because that comfort zone is the assumption: ‘that’s the way it has always been addressed’, even if the problem has never been resolved.

If the Creative Interchange Process is not alive and kicking, everyone knows what everyone else will argue for or against on any giving topic, but practically nobody bothers to understand why the other has a different viewpoint, let alone how these different viewpoints can be synergized into a correct ‘appreciatively understanding’ and thus in a correct problem definition.

The basic conditions of this phase are Curiosity and a high level of tolerance for Ambiguity. Ambiguity comes from the viewpoints of the other participants, when those are very different from your own. One has to have a high level of tolerance for ambiguity in order to use the tools necessary to appreciatively understand the point of view of the other(s).

The behaviors to enhance our Curiosity and tolerance for Ambiguity are: ‘Asking questions’, ‘Finding plusses in the point of view of the other’, ‘Integrate the differences of the different point of views’ and the understanding of the respective ‘Mental Models’.

When we have finally understood the problem in an appreciative way we are ready for step four.

Step four: Accepting the Problem

Once the problem is being defined, it has to be accepted. The owner of the problem should raise and the other participants should accept their role as client to the owner, in order to propose possible solutions.
If this is not the case the problem is appreciatively understood and at the same time disregarded: ‘this is not MY problem’. Unless a problem owner is found and that those person can rely on people who will help him to resolve the problem, that problem will stay around and will do its devastating work.

So the problem has to be felt as ‘my/our problem’, and when the gap is consistent, the creative tension will pull the problem owner and the members of his problem solving team towards the ‘desired state’.  This leads us towards the next step.

Step five: Imagination of the Solutions to the problem

Imagination will generate different solutions to the defined and accepted problem. Where after the ‘problem owner’ select the best of them. All members of the problem solving team must use their imagination and experience to construct alternative solutions. They should stay aware and should not chose ‘old’ solutions of the problem, if it is a recurrent problem. Because those solutions did not solve the problem in the first place. The quote ‘If you’re doing what you’ve always done, you will get what you’ve always got’ should be remembered during this stage.

During this step no ‘idea killers’ should be uttered (see my book ‘Cruciale dialogen’ pages 163-171 or http://www.slideshare.net/johanroels33/killerphrases ), neither should one ‘jump to conclusions’ too soon.  This is the step where synergy has to play a major role. ‘Either/or’ thinking has to be replaced by ‘both/and & different from’ thinking, thus real synergy. This synergy is at the root of Creative Interchange.

The basic conditions during this third phase ‘Creative Integrating’ are ‘Connecting’ and ‘Creativity’ and those conditions are enhanced by the use of the following tools: ‘Reframing’, ‘Use of Analogies’,  ‘Use of Metaphors’ and ‘4 plusses and A wish’.

One has to take the time to first discover – without any discussion – and afterwards analyze the different solutions before they dive into action. There is no need for knee-jerk response when Creative Interchange is at play. Once several solutions has been identified and analyzed, the problem owner has to choose the ones he prefers. This is his responsibility, since after all he is the one who is accountable (not the members of the problem solving group). Of course he informs those members why he has chosen those solutions.

Step six: Implementing the chosen solutions

Implementing the chosen solutions leads to transformation. In the Creative Interchange Process, this is called Continual Transformation.

First of all, never assume that a good solution will automatically be accepted and used. One has to foresee and address the obstacles, resistance and forces operation to keep things ‘the same’, in order to implement the solutions properly. Committing an implementing error will nullify the total effort of problem solving.

The conditions in this fourth phase ‘Continual Transformation’ are ‘Tenacity’ and ‘Interdependency’. The behaviors and tools that support those conditions are ‘Repetition and Evaluation’, ‘Feedback’ (Positive Reinforcement and Correction), ‘Dare to Change’ and ‘Process awareness’.

During the implementation phase one should stay awake and the Evaluation and Process Awareness will tell us if we stay on the right track. The real world can change that fast that the chosen set of solutions does not give salvation. Tenacity is needed, though no ‘Blind Tenacity’. If ‘Evaluation and Process Awareness’ show us that we will not reach the goal, we should Dare to Change the set of solutions and/or its implementation.

Anyway, finally we arrive at the ‘final’ step.

Step Seven: Evaluating Outcomes

Did the implemented set of solutions actually solve the problem? This evaluation is in itself an application of the whole Crucial Dialogue Model. And if the answer is ‘no’, we should be ready for another ride on the rollercoaster called the Crucial Dialogue Model based on the Creative Interchange Process! Continuing through this Lemniscate should resolve the initial problem and any emerging problems.

After having understood this way of solving problems, people understand that it is no longer acceptable to continue on their merry-go-round of impulsive ‘jump to conclusion’ and action that never solves the real problem. The Creative Interchange process and its application the Crucial Dialogue Model does!

Flapvlinder_eng_2014

Implications for the Future of Leadership Development

If this is an idea of leadership whose time is coming, what implications are there for the practice of leadership development? What will leadership development mean? What will it include? How will it be carried out?

Definitive answers to these questions are not in view, because the Paradigm in Leadership I am describing is just appearing. What is needed now are ideas of how to move from leadership development as it is practiced today toward the future – a transitional way to work with people who think of themselves as leaders in the traditional sense while opening up the possibility that in the not-too-distant future these very same people will begin to see themselves in a significantly different light.

 Transitional Ideas

Three changes in approaching leadership development are useful in making this transition.

Develop the Individual’s  Ability to Take part. Moving the source of leadership beyond the leader and into the reciprocal relations of people working together means seeing the leader as a participant in a process, as an incomplete, interdependent part rather than a more or less autonomous initiator; motivation and evaluator.

Leadership development, then, will eventually move away from developing those personal characteristics that prepare people to act in an autonomous, tale-charge mode. It will move away from being about how to develop people who can stand alone and make the tough call (take responsibility alone) and move toward developing the capacity of people to maintain themselves as responsible, active agents within a context of interdependence (take responsibility individually and with others). The curriculum will slowly evolve toward being more about taking part than taking charge, more about interdependence than independence.

The design of such a curriculum needs to take into account People’s relative readiness to embrace interdependence, and provide supports for the challenge of stretching beyond existing concepts of authority and leadership. A related curricular change is that of developing what is considered the “leader” type of person. As the idea of leadership itself gradually changes, the idea that some people are “natural” leaders is called increasingly into question. As people gain more experience in making decisions, solving problems, and setting direction in an interdependent mode, leadership development activities geared toward bringing out the natural-leader qualities of certain leaderlike people are sure to become increasingly irrelevant. As people work more interdependently and begin to take responsibility individually and together, rather than “delegating responsibility” to a leader, they are invited to conclude that leadership is effective or ineffective more in relation to their collective ability to interrelate and less to characteristics of any one of them.

Develop People in context. Leadership development professionals will thus be invited to see individuals in context. Relationships are of more central concern, not just thinking more about how people enter into and conduct themselves in relationships (interpersonal skills) but significantly shifting the focus of concern from individuals to the interrelationship of individuals. In other words, to see individuals in context, to usefully take account of the interrelatedness of people so as to view leadership as a reciprocal meaning making process, it is useful to shift the way the individual is viewed (Gergen, 1994). Instead of thinking that my relationship with you is conflicted because I am argumentative and you are rigid in your thinking (our characteristics and qualities are “causing the relationship” to be what it is,) we are invited to see in addition how our interrelatedness brings my argumentativeness and your rigidity into being (our interaction makes us who we are).

This view of relationships as the ground of personal qualities and behavior in turn opens the way to understanding how something like leadership-direction giving, value creating, inspirational-can arise not “in” an individual but in the joint action, the reciprocal relatedness, of individuals.

As I said before, new ideas about leadership suggest that leadership development is less and less about enhancing generalizable abilities of individuals. The leadership development curriculum will move toward being about taking part, not taking charge. with a shift in viewpoint toward the interrelational nature of the individual, the leadership development professional is invited to think more about leadership development as the enhancement of interrelating in specific contexts.

As leadership becomes more an idea of shared meaning making, leadership development activities need to pay attention to the quality of interrelating its possible forms, how people can effectively participate in these various forms, and so forth. In other words, the quality of leadership is seen to be related to the vitality of interrelating; to develop leadership, we are being called on to develop the process of interrelating toward skilled, mindful, heedful forms. Recent interest in dialogue in organizations as an approach to organizational learning (Isaacs[1], 1996) is complementary to this focus.

To emphasize, this is not just interpersonal training warmed over as leadership development. Interpersonal skills training, while quite likely to remain useful in a new leadership development context, tends to make the assumption that interpersonal skill is an individual capacity exercised in a social setting. This assumption diverts attention from the reciprocal way that interrelating creates roles or parts to play, and thus the way that relatedness creates people to fill those roles and parts. It is this whole activity of reciprocating relationships that might be addressed in a revised leadership development curriculum. In a later paper, I’ll describe the Personal Creative Interchange Incentive course.

Develop the Leadership Capacity of Work Groups. With this new Paradigm in Leadership, the focus of leadership development activity shifts away from the individual and toward the interdependent work group. In the future, leadership development will be aimed at improvements in the quality of interrelating among people engaged in interdependent work.

This brings leadership development into the domain of what we have come to think of as team development (team building) or even organization development, yet with a distinct difference. Older Paradigms in Leadership see organizations and teams as objects of leadership activity; the individual leader acts on a team, workgroup, or organization. The team, workgroup, or organization is an entity outside of, and in some ways distinct from, the leader.

The new Paradigm in Leadership invites a different conception of the team and the organization: not as an entity outside the individual that the individual “joins,” but rather the sum total of all interactions. It is less a “thing” that individuals can join and upon which they can act than it is a constantly evolving and changing pattern of interrelationships that individuals create and that creates them.

But when we change the view of the organization from that of a “thing” to that of a vital pattern of reciprocal relations, what about the leaders? How can they participate in the organization as if they are a part of it and not separate from it, above it, acting on it ? The traditional view assumes that leadership is a process that rank-and-file workers can be allowed to enter into by the dispensation of leaders (who “own” the process). The emerging view sees leadership as an all-embracing process that people occupying traditional leadership roles – and thus limited by traditional expectations (their own and others’) – need to work extra hard to get in on.

The leadership development profession is therefore being called on to find ways to work in the context of these patterns of reciprocal relations. what we have thought of as team building and organization development is being called on to expand toward leadership development, while what we have thought of as leadership development is being called toward the realm of group development. Perhaps these two domains of developmental work – the individual and the organizational, individual learning and organizational learning – are bound to meet somewhere in the middle in service of a new concept of leadership: the Creative Interchange Process.

 

 

[1] Isaacs, William. Dialogue and the art of thinking together. A pioneering approach to communication in business and in life. New York: Doubleday, 1999.