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Connecting #Holacracy with #VSM (Viable System Model) – there’s hope yet!

I’ve been reading quite some stuff recently on Holacracy, and I think it would make for a very nice mashup with the Viable System Model. Here’s how:

  • The circles look a lot to me like Systems 1 and a hierarchy of them (super-circles, sub-circles) smells like VSM recursive levels to me. If you add that you can have Cross Link representatives (connecting circles that are not hierarchically connected), that starts to looks like true recursivity to me.
  • Then, you have the “process breakdown” part of the constitution that, to me again, is a way to detect unmatched variety at some level and pass it up the hierarchy/recursivity for managing (System 2)
  • And of course, the Lead Link/Rep Link roles match somewhat naturally with the vertical channels: the ones going down from system 3 to System 1 and up through System 2 as well.
  • Separation between operational meetings and governance meetings would fit well with an S3/S1 separation as well
  • Holacracy incorporates some features of the personal productivity method “Getting Things Done” (GTD) from David Allen, and this obviously would make for a very nice addition to a VSM-based organization (or any other one for that matter).

Indeed, Holacracy looks like a very nice way of running a VSM at whatever level you consider it. Where people might mismatch a VSM organization for a hierarchical one, having circles one inside another as a way to feature the recursive nature of VSM and at the same time having each circle functioning as a viably entity in its own would be a great addition. Holacracy doesn’t address the viability of circles explicitly, yet it provides for some nice alerting mechanisms (algedonic signals in VSM terms) that would allow to bootstrap viability.

Where VSM brings a bit more to the picture, to me, is with its specific focus on the Environment (bringing the outside in, something that Steve Denning identified on Forbes) and the explicit focus on the Future and Ethos through System 4 and 5.

What do you think?

The paradox of improvement and #change in a #deficit or #strength-based vision of the world…

I was considering change this morning, in the context of how the brain, as a complex adaptive system, deals with it (this is explained in my book “The Colors of Change“).

When you work from a deficit-based perspective on life (that is, you have a vision or an ideal in mind and all you see are gaps between it and reality around you, that is, problems):

It’s easy to point out problems, but it’s difficult to solve them.

It’s difficult because you will want to fill a gap using things absent. Which is difficult obviously.

On the contrary, when working from a strength-based mindset, the situation is just the opposite:

It’s hard to point out strengths, but it’s easy to improve on them.

Because strengths are so easy to use, they are hardly noticed on first sight, especially by the person expressing them. For others, it’s a bit easier because someone’s strengths might look so different to one’s own mental model that singling them out is easy.

As for improving, well, the person exercising a strength needs to notice it first before being able to do more of it. But once it’s made visible again (using a slight shift in perspective, for instance), then it’s far easier to do more of it, because you know exactly what it is: you’re going to do more of something you already have done before. Compare this to doing something you never did or for which you’re not so good at!

As far as efficiency is concerned, I’d rather think a bit more beforehand to understand the strengths at play, and then act more easily afterwards, rather than the opposite (jumping straight on a problem but being dragged in acting out a solution to it).

Of course, there’s the middle path where you identify a problem, and then work out to find times when the problem was not present, what the corresponding strengths might be that made the situation better, and then do more of them. A bit simpler than strict problem solving, though still longer than pure strength-based work.

So what? Well, my conclusion is to just don’t damn look for problems in the first place. Just identify what you want more of because you just seem to like it, identify how come you’re good at it, and just-do-more-of-it!!!


Ma réponse à “Le but de l’entreprise, au-delà du sophisme et de l’idéalisme” via @alexis8nicolas

J’aimerais réagir à cet excellent (comme toujours) article d’Alexis Nicolas. Alexis recadre le débat du but de l’entreprise, le faisant passer du seul gain financier à la proposition de valeur à la société : Le but de l’entreprise, au-delà du sophisme et de l’idéalisme.

Globalement je suis d’accord avec lui et viser l’apport de valeur ajoutée à la société (de manière durable !) me semble plus pertinent qu’un simple calcul sur les aspects financiers.

Et pourtant?

Personnellement, j’ai tendance à penser que viser des gains financiers sur le long terme peut être une bonne chose. Mais quand je dis long terme, je veux vraiment dire de manière durable. C’est à dire que si vous visez, comme Alexis d’ailleurs le remarque, les seuls gains court terme, vous appelez l’asphyxie par épuisement de vos ressources rares : talents, environnement et probablement clients (car vous exploiterez le filon le plus rentable du moment en oubliant la nécessaire adaptation pour suivre les mouvements de la société).

Mais je pense que lorsque l’on vise le long terme ou mieux, le soutenable / durable, d’autres éléments entrent dans le cadre de réflexion. On devient plus facilement capable d’avoir une vision systémique de l’entreprise. En effet, sur du long terme, on comprend plus facilement comment au moins trois paramètres entrent en compte et sont étroitement liés :

  • les clients (qui fournissent la mane financière) ;
  • les collaborateurs (qui réalisent la valeur ajoutée) ;
  • l’organisation elle-même (management, actionnaires qui organise les relations entre les deux premiers).

Si l’on prolonge encore le long terme pour devenir permanent ou soutenable, un quatrième paramètre entre en ligne de compte :

  • l’environnement (qui fournit le contexte dans lequel les trois précédents peuvent exister).

Donc, si à court terme on peut se focaliser sur l’un des éléments au détriment des trois (ou quatre) autres (puisque l’accroissement important de l’un peut se faire sans problème, bien qu’au détriment des autres), sur du long terme, il devient évident que les liens systémiques ont des effets sensibles, détectables, des uns sur les autres. Et l’on comprend alors comment les quatre éléments sont intimement liés.

Pour moi (et on me pardonnera cette analyse de cause sur un blog où l’on cherche surtout ce qui fonctionne), les critiques targuant la recherche du bonheur des salariés (par exemple) d’utopiste sont le fait de personnes ignorant les aspects long terme, consciemment ou non. Si conscience il y a, c’est probablement que l’appât financier court termiste est le plus important. S’il s’agit de simple ignorance, alors il est sans doute encore temps d’éduquer.

Heureusement, l’époque actuelle met l’emphase sur l’aspect environnemental et la soutenabilité de tous types d’initiatives, et l’on peut espérer qu’à défaut de proactivité, le pilotage systémique des organisations finira par diffuser de l’extérieur vers l’intérieur des organisations…

Merci de ton article, Alexis !

A proposal for a new #Complexity- and #Strength- based #PDCA (for #Lean or else)

Thinking during commute the other day (should I have to live nearer my work, I’d be much more dumb!) I pondered how a better strength-based Plan Do Check Act loop could look like.

I find the current version of PDCA to be a bit too deficit-based and tainted of Command & Control. All too often we see managers or project managers deciding on a plan in their offices and rolling it over employees, without much consideration about what would work for them (they’re the ones with their two feet in the daily work, so they should know best). Sure, if you’re doing nemawashi, this doesn’t concern you. But not everybody does it, yet.

So, since we’re speaking more and more about complexity (hmmm, Google Trends on complexity is making me a liar it seems – a construction of mine?)… anyway, I came up with the following new version:

  • Connect ideas of different people: who are they? what are their strengths? What ideas do they have? Aspirations? Opportunities they see? Results they expect?
  • Select ideas that you (collectively) would think are the more interesting to try?
  • Effect these ideas: go to the gemba and put them to the test of work. Measure heavily what happens of course (People side: does it enhance the work experience? Quality? Delays? Costs?)
  • Reflect on what happened: what did you learn? What new opportunities do you now see? What hopes does this give you? What else?

PS: well, at least the Cynefin  framework is trending more ;)

Using Emergence to Scale Social Innovation

I just discovered this astounding article from Wheatley and Frieze on Using Emergence to Scale Social Innovation.

I do think the way social networking is done today is broken – or immature to say the least. How are we supposed to create working networks and provoke emergence the way Wheatley explains it, if we stick to groups of people?

What’s important in a network: the people that make it of the contributions they make?

When you look today at the way social networks work, you see communities of people, connected through people. IMHO, that’s not the way it’s supposed to work (it may be flattening to one’s ego to have loads of followers, but I challenge you to find any real usefulness in this kind of network).

Indeed, we can see people intuitively knowing this fact since they tend to agregate around dedicated web sites on specific topics. Look at Google Groups, LinkedIn groups or even Facebook groups! What connect these people are the topics around which they network. Yet, one topic alone isn’t enough. How are the topics connected?

The power isn’t in the @ (how people are now mentionned, such as @nicolasstampf for instance, but in the # (hash tag: the way topics are mentioned). Yet, today, social networks are organized around people. When you want informations about some #topic, you need to find your @people to identify when some #topic has been mentioned. Or to search a whole social network for these mentions (eg. Twitter). How inefficient is that?

#Systemsthinking and #DSRP questions to improve systemic view of processes (Ref @iDSRP)

April 25th, 2013 Posted in Systems Thinking Tags: , , ,

Although I love methods, standards (hey, I’m from Lean!) and the like, I also like when people come up with ways to look at their work and their company in perspectives that external people (us here) might not have imagined.

So, also to keep things simple, I would consider teaching people (and making corresponding “templates”) about DSRP as a way to learn differently than only linear thinking. See to know more on that systems thinking approach or method.

Faced with a problem (a process to be improved for instance), DSRP would allow to ask broader-view questions such as:

  • Distinctions: what are we looking at? What’s missing from the picture? Who could provide for other distinctions?
  • Systems: what systems (notice the plural here) does this process contribute to? What sub-systems is it composed of?
  • Relationships: how are parts of the process interacting with each others, especially differently than from what’s written on paper (possible ISO 9001 documentation)? What relationships are we blind to? How could we know best? How is this process related to other processes (both formally AND informally)?
  • Perspectives: what assumptions are we making regarding this process and how it is supposed to function? What assumptions make it (dys)function the way it does? What other perspective might we take to enlight the process differently? What might we learn, then?

And of course, there’s the possibility to use DSRP to craft positive and appreciative questions. I haven’t much given thoughts to this, but I will surely address the topic in my book “The Colors of Change“.

My @leanpub book “The Colors of #Change” has started its publication!

Details are available on the page over there: or from here (a bit more complete).

Subtitle is “Respectful Change Management explained by Cybernetics”.

Check it out!

@kickstarter project: a new kind of #systemsthinking book, please support @systemswiki!

Gene Bellinger and Scott Fortmann-Roe have started a kickstarter project called “Beyond Connecting the Dots” to create a new kind of eBook where the systems thinking (systems dynamics) models will be directly editable and playable with inside the book!

Please support them by donating!