La circularidad del sistema

La circularidad del sistema resulta tan valiosa como el cambio. En toda la era moderna, el círculo ha gozado de peor prensa que la flecha: el círculo quedó asociado a lo medieval y religioso (ej.: los rituales religiosos), y la flecha quedó asociada a modernidad, progreso y desarrollo (ej.: el cambio incremental). La emergente economía circular vincula el círculo y la flecha. Esta conjunción compleja de ambas dimensiones antropológicas puede significar el gran salto de era.

Los dos modelos de aprendizaje organizativo de los que soy autor – identidad completa y los seis pilares – toman en consideración la circularidad antropológica. Y también el aprendizaje y el cambio. Eso les hace genuinamente sistémicos. Es reduccionista aprehender el sistema desde una sola dimensión.

Todos los sistemas humanos que aprenden muestran comportamientos de circularidad. También los sistemas que fracasan, al menos durante un tiempo hasta llegar a la crisis sistémica:

  • En la mediocridad, de manera reiterada actuamos las mismas resistencias, repetimos los mismos problemas, cometemos los mismos errores y no superamos los mismos umbrales; no hay conciencia de compartir un modelo y a pesar de ello los individuos y los equipos nos sincronizamos desde esos comportamientos.
  • En la excelencia, de manera reiterada conversamos desde un modelo compartido y para compartir una visión, lo cual requiere auto-control. Fruto de esas conversaciones, las personas y los equipos aprendemos y revertimos dichos aprendizajes en el sistema, contribuyendo a la mejora del mismo.

El aprendizaje genera apertura, haciendo que el círculo se vuelva una espiral.

De HR Business Partner a HR Business Driver

La estructura mediante HR Business Partner lleva probándose un cuarto de siglo con éxito desigual. Mi propuesta es un modelo basado en HR Business Driver.

La idea de una estructura segmentada por colectivos homogéneos (ej.: HR Business Partner de Ventas, HR Business Partner Funciones Soporte, etc.) se vio como un progreso en la entrega de valor desde la función personas, respecto a la estructura tradicional por capacidades o etiquetas transversales (ej.: Compensación, Desarrollo, Relaciones Laborales, etc.). Dos décadas después, muchas empresas han hecho sus pinitos en esta segmentación. Todavía hoy, algunos DRH creen que están inventando la rueda.

Mi hipótesis en este artículo es doble:

  • La organización mediante HR Business Partner por un lado, y mediante etiquetas transversales por otro estaría topándose con un límite en la entrega de valor. Hay tópicos relevantes para el negocio que, como consecuencia de la evolución de los mercados, de la tecnología y de las personas, están en tierra de nadie. Por ejemplo, los de marketing hacen sus encuestas de clientes y los de recursos humanos hacen sus encuestas de empleados pero si convergen es por pura casualidad. Los de marketing derrochan dinero comprando campañas para mejorar la imagen de la marca cuando los propios empleados no ven cómo conectarse con la propia marca entre otras razones porque no se invierte dinero en su desarrollo. Otro ejemplo, los jefes siguen sacando punta al organigrama con el (supuesto) propósito de mejorar la eficiencia organizativa, cuando los colaboradores inmediatos no saben cómo mantener conversaciones eficientes en equipo.
  • La negación del límite en la entrega de valor al negocio estaría restando reputación a los responsables de la función personas ya que por otro lado son los que más recitales ofrecen a directivos y empleados sobre el cambio.

HR Business Driver

Desde mi modelo sistémico de los seis pilares (drivers), entiendo que toda organización, ya sea funcional o matricial, tiene que ser cosida desde tres ejes:

  • El eje Visión-Cultura: en su versión más elevada, la visión compartida se corresponde con los escenarios de futuro compartidos; conversar para elaborar relatos de escenarios requiere una actitud colaborativa y aprendiente de la que nadie se está ocupando. En su versión más aterrizada, la visión compartida se corresponde con cómo están representados los clientes en los atributos de la marca. Ya indiqué en un artículo anterior que hay mucho pico en la función marketing sobre la experiencia del cliente, y muy poca pala en la función personas sobre la experiencia del empleado ¿Acaso no se ve que hay un corta-fuegos entre ambas? ¿Acaso no es necesario trabajar en las resistencias que se dan en la entrega de la promesa que hace la marca a los clientes? ¿Están los propios Directivos cortocircuitando este trabajo sobre las resistencias porque va contra la lógica del ordeno y mando?
  • El eje Poder-Cocreación: el poder es siempre poder orgánico en su versión más vertical y controladora, poco importa si el estilo de quien ostenta el poder es más directivo o más participativo. Una condición esencial del poder es perseverarse manteniendo o acrecentando el control. Todos hemos asistido a crisis sistémicas por abuso de poder (Volswagen, Bankia, Popular, Pescanova, Caixa Catalunya, Marsans, Lactalis…). Tomemos un ejemplo: es impresionante el sumidero de energía que supone la organización matricial, todo ello porque prevalece el eje vertical de poder sin complementarlo con el círculo y lo que representa como capacidad colaborativa ¿Acaso no se ve la importancia de tener conversaciones de negocio más eficientes? ¿Acaso no es importante para el negocio que el líder orgánico haga cesiones temporales de autoridad a los equipos para generar apertura sistémica?
  • El eje Innovación-Resultado: ya sea en producto, servicio o proceso, la innovación es el pilar que más impacta en el resultado futuro del negocio. Los mayores nichos de innovación están en la colaboración multi-empresas, lo cual va contra el sentido de la propiedad del talento y en favor del trabajo en comunidades de aprendizaje. Contra todo pronóstico, hay tres pilares detractores de la innovación:
    • el poder y su fantasía de reproducir el buen resultado sin hacer grandes revoluciones, o su fantasía de control;
    • la cultura del negocio, con su modelo mental y sus resistencias;
    • el propio resultado, ya sea desde el “tampoco nos ha ido tan mal hasta ahora”, o desde la dificultad para ejecutar iniciativas.

El HR Business Driver tiene que trabajar tanto para promover la apertura (vision, innovación, co-creación) del sistema, como para amortiguar la clausura (poder, cultura, resultado) del mismo.

Collaboration as leadership

Collaboration as Leadership

by Ken Homer Collaborative Conversations

The purpose of collaboration as leadership is to re-humanize the workplace. It is each of us learning how to work and play well with other people when we are not necessarily in a position of authority.

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived – that is to have succeeded.

In the nearly 40 years since I first read Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote above, I have spent considerable time in conversations with vastly different people talking about how to leave the world a bit better. The bold idea that success can be equated with making the world a bit better seems to be widely shared and passionately pursued by an astonishing variety of people. Emerson is generous in his criteria for making the world better: a healthy child, a garden patch, a redeemed social condition, etc. I have tried so often to work on larger scales and in so doing I have overreached and been humbled in my attempts. But still, improving the world at larger levels seems to be called for today. When attempting to work on larger scales I have learned to hold the idea of making the world better as more of a guiding star for my efforts than an actual destination that I can reasonably expect to reach. Being humbled in my grand attempts has led me to believe that if we want to cope with the enormous complexity of the challenges we have created for ourselves, than we need to couple our bold ideas with modest approaches. We need ways of working that are within the reach of ordinary people. Approaches that can be easily to put into practice by anyone anywhere who wishes to help.

The purpose of Collaboration as Leadership is to re-humanize the workplace

Over the past year, I’ve been working with three gifted colleagues: Antonio Linares, Etienne Collignon, and Marion Chapsal on something we’ve been calling Collaborative Leadership – or more recently, Collaboration as Leadership — it’s constantly morphing as we gain more experience with it. The purpose of Collaboration as Leadership is to re-humanize the workplace. We posit that perhaps the most powerful thing we can do as individuals or as groups is to become aware of when we are dehumanizing other people and find ways grant them legitimacy. It’s a bold idea; some might even call it idealistic. However, seeing another human being as a human being is the essence of being human. It takes no special skills. However, it does take courage.

The foundational premise of Collaborative Leadership is that if you give people good tools, appropriate facilitation, and adequate time, they can work together to solve even the most complex challenges. It’s a bold idea that we’ve coupled with a modest approach based on a simple tool called Collaborative Conversations. Collaborative Conversations maps out the four different kinds of conversations required for any group to define a mutually desired future and then plot a course for successfully creating that future.

Conversation is how we create understanding and build relationships. Relationships and understanding are the basis for bringing world-size problems down to human-size abilities.

Collaborative Leadership asserts that if we can learn to master the skills of Collaborative Conversations in handling our daily lives and our routine work, then if we find ourselves called to leave the world a bit better than we found it, we can apply what we’ve learned about small scale collaboration to the larger issues that we’re facing. It begins with the simple yet profound recognition that conversation is how we create understanding and build relationships. Relationships and understanding are the basis for bringing world-size problems down to human-size abilities.

Collaborative Leadership is not a single leader getting others to collaborate. It is each of us learning how to work and play well with other people when we are not necessarily in a position of authority. It is using our personal integrity, reputation, and standing coupled with our commitment to something the whole group is invested in creating, that grants us the influence and the ability to positively affect the outcome of the ventures we are engaged with. Collaborative Leadership is what is called for in times of great complexity and uncertainty. It asks us to step up when we have something useful to contribute and to step back and support others when we recognize that they have a piece of the puzzle that we lack. It also requires us to soak in the often uncomfortable energy of “not knowing” long enough for us to generate viable pathways forward.

Collaboration as leadership recognizes that it is up to us to pull together and find our way through the very personal challenges in our lives and work by creating relationships where we listen to understand, rather than to argue, agree or persuade. Where we invite in and honor the voices that have traditionally been marginalized: women, people of color, the very old, the very young, the poor, those who are not eloquent, those who do not think quickly, but who need time to process, those who ask difficult questions, those who dissent from the status quo.

Collaboration as Leadership invites in and honors the voices that have traditionally been marginalized: women, people of color, the very old, the very young, the poor, those who are not eloquent, those who do not think quickly, but who need time to process, those who ask difficult questions, those who dissent from the status quo.

Collaboration as Leadership flourishes in communities of practice where it is accepted as a given that conversations are how we:

  • Build meaningful relationships with each other (humanize)
  • Explore what is possible together (include)
  • Coordinate our efforts in any endeavor (collaborate)
  • Learn how to improve (build our competence)

Collaboration as Leadership recognizes that perfection is not only unattainable, it also encourages rigidity rather than flow and resilience. It seeks instead to broaden our range of options by playing with the boundaries of our thinking instead of inside of them. It recognizes that people are social, that we all have bodies, and our bodies react according to the emotions that are evoked when we come together. It is undeniable, yet rarely taken into account, that while we are not all subject to the same range of thinking, we are all subject to the same range of emotions, and it is our emotions that bring us together in harmony or split us apart in polarity. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to learn how to foster the emotions that increase our intelligence when we come together in groups, so that we can make better decisions. Such awareness is not something that can be accomplished by thinking. It requires us to attend to the signals our bodies are sending us. Collaborative Leadership is an embodied experience not a conceptual exercise.

It is incumbent upon us to learn how to foster the emotions that increase our intelligence when we come together in groups, so that we can make better decisions.

Collaborative Leadership eschews the judgments of right and wrong, substituting instead the inquiry of, “Are we making things better or are we making them worse?” And it follows that question with: “What are we learning together, and how do we adapt our actions based on what we are learning in order to leave the world a little bit better for our having lived?”

We invite you to come and join us in exploring how to apply and embody Collaboration as Leadership. We have two workshops coming up in Europe in May 2017.

Click below for more information.

May 18 and 19 in Madrid Spain

May 29 in Paris France

Systemic Diagnosis

Systemic diagnosis

In my newly issued book, El Liderazgo Colaborativo, I introduce four interdependent systemic approaches to carry out diagnosis and five system containers to facilitate organizational learning and collaboration.

Systemic diagnosis assumptions

Classical diagnosis approaches set that “causes” precede “symptoms”; therefore, they have  different status. Causes are usually part of “evidence”, while symptoms are usually part of “interpretation” of the evidence according to a model; interpretation is a kind of explanation.

Systemic diagnosis sets four assumptions:

  • The first assumption sets that system adaptation is an ongoing opening up and learning process happening at individual, teams and large system levels. This process is strongly connected to a closing up process happening at the same three levels.
  • The second one sets that learning (opening up) and resistance (closing up) to learn and adapt go together, also at the three levels. Both are system active processes: although people may feel not so satisfied/happy with current business culture, they are more resistant to losing this reference than to co-create a new business vision that increases their future utility. Systems culture is antagonistic to systems vision.
  • The third assumption sets that individual and team learning should happen within a number of system containers or platforms that set collective direction and subsequently provide shared purpose or shared meaning to them. Aligning people to brand values, as a business container, doesn’t mean building an obliged hierarchy but a commited network.
  • The fourth one sets that any emergent agent should pay attention to learning and to resistances at the same time. This dual or ambivalent focus falls under the adaptive complexity, a sort of empirical term many use without a clear understanding about the meaning.

Many system leaders end up by adopting linear approaches, very disruptive for people and teams.

 

The full identity systemic model

The full identity systemic model

Seven years ago, in my book Identidad Completa (2010), I introduced a systemic model named the Full Identity (FI), applied to organizational learning and transformation. Full identity sets that any human system –individual, team and large system- behaves under the influence of feminine-matriarchal patterns and masculine-patriarchal ones; whether system members are conscious or not this is another story.

FI model is based on a combination of field experience and bibliographic research. The field comes from years of executive coaching, team coaching an intercultural experience. The bibliography comes from imaginary anthropology and gender studies. FI is also my singular way to explore the collective intelligence, a sort of phantom concept we hear about a lot in business…but never see. I have to say that according to imaginary and gender research, there is a difference between gender and sex. Many people either reject or do not understand this hypothesis about differentiating gender and sex…maybe another phantom idea…maybe a resistance due to our mental model.

The FI model assumptions

The first assumption sets the antagonistic relationship between the two patterns: feminine-matriarchal and masculine-patriarchal. When a pattern becomes official (dominant) in the system in terms of influencing attitudes, behaviours, habits or corporate policies, the antagonistic pattern can be observed as symptom. As an example, when an organization becomes too much competitive, demanding, performance oriented, oppressive and vertical (masculine-patriarchal), people show symptoms in form of rumors, stress, boycott and relationship violence (i.e. humiliation, harassment, threat). On the opposite side, when the organization becomes too much social, friendly, caring, protective, easy going, inclusive, tolerant, mystic, patient, slow driven (feminine-matriarchal), people show symptoms of annoy, sadness, mysticism, dispersion and a sort of frustration due to lack of challenge.

The second assumption sets the importance for people to access to shared purpose or shared meaning. Both require inclusion and co-creation, both reduce people anxiety and uncertainty, and increase people commitment. System change implies building a shared understanding and exploration about what behaviours and mental models require to be re-assessed (i.e. which ones need to be abandon and which ones to be reinforced). Systemic crisis may happen when the dominant pattern is unable to provide, not just shared meaning to system members, but also sustainable results for teams and for the large system. As an example, the recent economic crisis represents the failure of the neo-liberal ideology to provide shared purpose to millions of citizens. On the antagonistic side, the collaborative or social economy represents a pattern reversion; digital collaborative technology behaves here as enabler.

The third assumption sets the importance of combining patterns, which means combining combative and collaborative leadership processes or, as Adam Kahane says, combining power and love, vertical execution and horizontal coordination, individual performance and team cohesion, divergent scenario exploration and convergent operating decisions, etc. Adaptive complexity derives from this assumption; adaptive complexity is connected to the way the system learns whether at individual, team or large system level, but also connected to the way the system deploys natural resistance to most of the learning initiatives.

I´m very glad my SOL colleagues, Marion Chapsal and Ken Homer, are exploring the gender field to support system learning and transformation. They will apply their model at the Madrid Collaborative Leadership Workshop this May.