Complexity Coaches

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.

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Company Values and Mindset

are an emergent outcome, not prescribable. 

Companies have become aware of the fact that core values – integrity, trust, fairness – can function as attractors that drive beneficial behaviours in the workplace. What they are not getting is that core values just can´t be prescribed, top down or in any other direction.

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While many companies large and small have come to the laudable conclusion to focus their organizational development efforts on values rather than behaviours, most go about this strategy in a wrong way.  When values are defined upfront without letting them emerge through a process and paying attention to which values are currently operative, people tend to game the system and display what HR and HQ want to hear. Dave Snowden puts it this way: “As soon as you write your values down, you´ve lost them”. Read More

“In a world where causality is systemic, entangled, in flux, and often elusive, we cannot design for absolute outcomes. Instead, we need to design for emergence. “. Ann Pendleton-Jullian

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has made it quite clear that the world has become more volatile and complex. Uncertainty and ambiguity are no longer buzzwords, but people have a felt sense of what it means to face these challenges for real on a daily basis in both personal and professional life.

How to respond to an increasingly ‘white water world’ is the primary challenge facing today’s leaders and leadership.  At EZC.Partners, we help people, leaders, CEOs, managers and other professionals to navigate these challenges.

  • we are thinking partners to our clients, and help probing the system, developing viable directions and solutions toghether
  • we support individual leaders with personal learning, individual growth, insight, and leadership skill development and decision-making under complex conditions
  • we help teams towards healthy, creative coherence and self-organization
  • help to strengthen the health and generativity of the organization’s culture
  • we help the organization with change and transformative processes especially in the face of resistance and pushback

“Seeking the ideal has a long history, it produces many saints but few paradigm changes”. Dave Snowden

We work with developmental models and find them helpful in many ways, especially when working with leadership development. We draw on models from different researchers, such as Susanne Cook-Greuter (ego development), Bill Torbert (action logics), Robert Kegan (orders of consciousness and immunity to change) or Theo Dawson and her team (Lectica/LDMA). photo-1439337153520-7082a56a81f4-landscape

We work with developmental models where they are adequate in order to cope with ever increasing complexity in the VUCA world. We don’t focus on teaching people to think at “higher levels”. “Higher levels of performance emerge when knowledge is adequately elaborated and the environment supports higher levels of thinking and performance. We focus on helping people to think better at their current level and challenging them to elaborate their current knowledge and skills”  (Theo Dawson). Read More

“The temptation to lead as a chess master, controlling each move of the organization, must give way to an approach as a gardener, enabling rather than directing. A gardening approach to leadership is anything but passive. The leader acts as an “Eyes-On, Hands-Off” enabler who creates and maintains an ecosystem in which the organization operates.”

― Stanley McChrystal, Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World

Today’s Leaders are asked to navigate in complex systems, while most of their technical skill sets enable them for technical, expert style interactions.

The distinction between complex and complicated domains has become a crucial one in the VUCA world, with a capital C for Complexity. In complicated operating contexts, the connection between cause and effect is knowable. Decision trees of possible outcomes can be identified, risks and probabilities around these outcomes can be calculated, and contingency plans for each path can be predetermined, controlled, and de-risked.

In complex domains, the relationship between cause and effect cannot be predetermined and hindsight doesn’t lead to foresight. Both outcomes themselves and the paths to get there are emergent and cannot be controlled, project managed and de-risked ahead of time.

What is more, there is a growing distinction between leaders – and leadership. Complexity leadership looks as much at the context, the ‘inbetween’ and the relationship dynamics as well as the actions and skills of individual leaders. The key challenge for next generation leadership is to seed change by cultivating conditions, not to steer change by plotting out a course.

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