Thursday, 4 February 2016

Values Tracks/Themes

What is Organizational Culture?

"Culture eats strategy for breakfast, operational excellence for lunch, and everything else for dinner.”
Peter Drucker

Organizational culture is the unique way that an organization forms and defines itself in terms of its shared values, worldviews, principles, traditions, customs, rituals, stories, practices and unwritten rules that distinguish it from other organizations. This includes the ways the organization conducts its business, treats it employees, customers and the community of which it is a part. Its culture affects its productivity, customer service, marketing and advertising practices, HR policies and capacity for innovation. Increasingly, it also includes its environmental and social responsibility practices. Organizational culture is unique for every organization and is one of the hardest things to change. It is influenced by national culture as well. It is also well established that organizational culture is a significant barrier to successful mergers and acquisitions. Most mergers fail due to cultural incompatibilities. A 2015 KPMG study indicates that 83% of merger deals do not boost shareholder returns because of the failure to manage cultural issues.

Organizational Values Tracks

Organizational Culture may be also understood as an emergent property of its Values System and is measured and profiled through analysing how the values combine to work together as Values Tracks or themes that illustrate the shared beliefs about “how things should be done around here”.

Each organizational Values Track contains multiple values that are profiled in our Organizational Culture Values Inventory report. This report identifies the primary Values Tracks for a group, team or an entire organization and can help to determine which types and combinations of group values, and their priorities comprise its culture. The chart below illustrates an example of the combination of values and their measured priorities for the Values Tracks of Customer Focus and Learning & Innovation for a senior team within the Minessence International COOP.

Example Values Tracks and Their Values

Track Values Example

Organizational Values Tracks as a Strange Attractor

The diagram below shows three other example Values Tracks which relate the values and beliefs of people in an organization to how they act (Action), how they create organizational structure (Order) and whether they are doing things primarily for their own benefit or to add value to their clients (Share).
3 Tracks Example

Values are both primary individual and group motivators. Values Tracks which coalesce within an organization become a collective pattern which motivate group behaviours and can profile organizational culture. These patterns are called Strange Attractors.

Strange Attractors create a certain form of order within any complex non-linear system be it the weather, a bushfire, the stock market, societal cultures, an organization, a team or an individual person. For living entities, their values system is their Strange Attractor.
Why do we use the term Strange Attractor instead of simply referring to values as attractors?

The term Strange Attractor comes from the study of complex systems which exhibit "order within chaos". Chaos Theory and non-linear system researchers discovered that certain entities behaved in strange ways yet their behaviours were obviously being influenced by a strong attraction to something. Attractors which led to entities behaving in strange and not entirely predictable ways became known as Strange Attractors. Attractors which lead to predicable behaviours are termed ordinary attractors. Gravity is an example of an ordinary attractor. With ordinary attractors such as gravity, one can mathematically compute exactly what will happen in the future. For example, if a person drops a ball from 1-meter height, it can be calculated precisely when that ball will land. When an entity's behavior (motion, actions, path, etc.) is governed instead by a Strange Attractor, one cannot predict what will happen in the future, however, one can predict the general form or nature of what will unfold.

For example, a person with priority values of achievement, competition, work, financial success, and duty will be attracted by these values to behave in a completely different way to someone who has priority values of expressiveness/freedom, play, intimacy, search/meaning, service, equity/rights. Clearly in both these examples you cannot know what each person will do moment to moment, however, you will know with a fair degree of certainty the general nature of how they will behave as their life unfolds. For each person, their values-system (in its role as a Strange Attractor) gives a sense of order to their life. So it is with teams, organizations and different cultural groups.

One explanation of the way Strange Attractors work is to consider fish in an ocean. As the water moves in synchronism with the current or swell, the fish all appear to move together from side to side or up and down as though connected by some invisible connector-- of course, we know that it is the water of the ocean. A similar phenomenon is seen in flight patterns of birds.  Strange Attractors behave the same way: we cannot see them and they (unlike the water of the ocean) have no material substance, yet, they link all material objects. In Newtonian Physics physical reality is considered to be solely a material reality. The existence of Strange Attractors has caused us to change our notion of reality since no one will dispute that they are real, but they have no material substance. This is a working assumption of Quantum Physics.

Translated into our understanding of modern organizations, we can differentiate a Newtonian Science Organization from a Quantum Science Organization.
The Newtonian Science Organization
The Quantum Science Organization
An organization is a collection of choices looking for problems, issues and feelings looking for decision situations in which they might be aired, solutions looking for issues to which there might be an answer, and decision makers looking for work.
Organizational order is provided through motivational energy ordered by Strange Attractors. Order is thus created and maintained through conceptual controls–people's values, ideas and beliefs are creating the order, not some manager with authority. The strongest motivational energy emanates from shared meaning–the source of the organization’s values-system–the Strange Attractors which create and maintains its culture.

Organizational Culture Values Tracks

The example above looked at how values may coalesce to form a Strange Attractor along just three dimensions or tracks: Action, Order & Sharing. The Minessence Values Framework typically uses eight Values Tracks to analyze the Strange Attractor(s) shaping an organization’s culture:
  • Creating Value (multiple bottom lines)
  • Customer Focus
  • Learning & Innovation
  • Respect, Trust & Openness
  • Team Work & Collaboration
  • Organizing/Creating Order
  • Resilience & Renewal
  • Social & Environmental Responsibility
The following diagram illustrates the pattern of Values Tracks (motivational energy) which emerges from the coalescence of values priorities of a senior team within our own Minessence International COOP organization.

3 Tracks Example

Monday, 2 March 2015

What are Energy Field Maps [EFMs]?

Although we know a great deal about the way fields affect the world as we perceive it, the truth is no one really knows what a field is. The closest we can come to describing what they are is to say that they are spatial structures in the fabric of space itself. [Talbot]
Newton’s world of cause and effect required great effort (forces) to make things happen. Since the emergence of the quantum world, we see that it is possible to accomplish this through manipulating non-material structures–i.e. fields–which are the basic substance of the universe.

One explanation of the way fields work is to consider fish in an ocean. As the water moves in synchronism with the swell, the fish all appear to move together from side to side or up and down as though connected by some invisible connector. We know that it is the water of the ocean, however, fields in space behave the same way, we cannot see them and they (unlike the water of the ocean) have no material substance, however, they link all material objects in space. “Physical reality is not only material. Fields are considered real, but they are not material” (Wheatley 1994 p. 50).

The Newtonian Science Organisation The Quantum Science Organisation
An organisation is a collection of choices looking for problems, issues and feelings looking for decision situations in which they might be aired, solutions looking for issues to which there might be an answer, and decision makers looking for work. Organisational order is generated through fields. These fields are conceptual controls–it is the ideas of a business that are controlling, not some manager with authority. One of the most powerful fields is shared meaning or the unconscious common ground within an organisation.
In the field view of organisations, clarity about values or vision is important, but it’s only half the task. Creating the field through the dissemination of those ideas is essential. The field must reach all corners of the organisation, involve everyone, and be available everywhere. We need to imagine ourselves as broadcasters, tall radio beacons of information, pulsating out messages everywhere. We must fill all the spaces with the messages we care about. If we do that, fields develop–and with them, their wondrous capacity to bring energy into form. [Wheatley]
Inspired by Tosey and Smith (1999), we have developed an Energy Field Map [EFM] (used with individuals) or Cultural Field Map [CFM] (used with groups) to facilitate the understanding of values-systems from an energy field perspective. Each dimension of the chart is a field of motivational energy emanating from the underlying values.

The pattern in the centre of the hexagon above maps your priority value priorities on each of eight motivational energy field dimensions.

Key questions to ask are:
  • Which are the strongest fields?
  • Which are weakest or non-existent?
  • Given this is the motivational energy I am 'radiating' to those around me, how will people relate to me?
  • What would they see me doing?
  • What would they hear me saying?
  • How would they feel in my presence?
  • How does the pattern of my energy fields compare that of my team or organisation?
  • What does this mean for myself and those with whom I work?

Take an Inventory of your own values to view your own Energy Field Map [EFM]. Click here to take your Values Inventory [AVI] and select EFM as the desired report at completion of the AVI.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

True Dialogue--The only 'sure-fire' way to see the 'elephant in the room'

An ancient Indian folk tale explains how we each have different perceptions of the world. Some Hindus had brought an elephant for exhibition and placed it in a dark house. Six men, who had never seen an elephant, went into that dark place, one at a time, to see the elephant. Finding that in the darkness, visual inspection was impossible, they felt it with their hands. 

On coming out, each explained to the others:
  • The palm of the first fell on the trunk. "This creature is like a snake," he said.
  • The hand of the second lighted on an elephant’s ear. "Oh no," he exclaims, "It's like a large leaf."
  • The third man felt a leg. "I found the elephant’s shape is like a tree," he said.
  • The fourth caught hold of its tail, "Nonsense, an elephant is just like a rope."
  • The fifth man placed his hands on the side of the beast, "It's just like a brick wall," he said.
  • The last man, feeling a tusk, asserts, "You are all wrong, it's like a sharp spear!"

Moral of the Story...
No one sees anything from all points of view.
Only through sharing points of view,
can we come close to "seeing" the whole.

Each of us has a unique view of the world which includes a set of beliefs about the nature of the world in which we live. Beliefs about:
  • The nature of human relationships (hierarchical, collaborative, individual),
  • The nature of human nature (evil, mixed, good),
  • The nature of human activity (being, becoming, doing),
  • The nature of our time sense (past, present, future),
  • The nature of our relationship with the environment (subordinate to nature, harmony with nature, dominant over nature). etc.
These beliefs structure our view of the world. In turn, our personal world-view gives rise to a unique set of personal value priorities. The reverse is also true. Knowing a person's value priorities, makes it possible to gain insights into how a person views the world.

Only through true dialogue, in a genuine effort to understand each other's worldview (i.e. understand why we each see what we see and why we each believe what we believe), can we create a peaceful world.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Transformative Leadership

Transformative leadership is a team effort. It requires constructive dialogue between Transactional leaders (the implementers) and Visionary leaders (the dreamers).  It's through the dialogue between these two groups that a new tacit worldview emerges. So who are the Visionary Leaders, and who are the transactional leaders?       
     From when we are born our interaction with the world around us stimulates our brain. We quickly begin to develop preferences for some forms of stimulation over others. By late adolescence these preferences are virtually "set in concrete" and we have developed a preference for one of four ways of relating to the world around us: things-abstract, concrete-things, concrete-people, or people-abstract. Below, each of these four ways of dialoguing with reality are briefly described along with preferred leadership modus operandi.

Things-Abstract [Technical Architect]

These are people who have a preference for using their hands to "tinker" with or to create things and to use their intellect to develop models or plans. They rely mostly on discovering things about the world through thinking about it and intellectually analysing it. They prefer to gather information visually. They are the "accidental leaders" because they will often create a technology which everyone else wants. People such as Bill Gates and the inventor of Facebook are examples. People with this brain-preference are not particularly interested in politics, they are the "corporatists" and would be quite comfortable living a totally privatized world.           
     Those who belong to this brain-preference will be seen as visionary leaders if people like the technology they have created.

Things-Concrete [Quality Producer/Crafts Person]

These are "hands on" people who like certainty and like activities/organisations to be well structured. They prefer things to be down-to-earth rather than abstract and intangible. People with this preference may be athletes, mechanics, surgeons, gardeners, accountants, farmers, etc. They will prefer a political party which gives them certainty and a sense of security. They will also prefer a party which is conservative in its policies rather than one which comes up with innovative new (never-tried-before) policy.
     These people can be fabulous transactional leaders. Those who are masters of their craft will be sought out to teach others the best way to perform their chosen occupation.

Concrete-People [People Servants]

As with the Quality Producers, People Servants like structure. However, their preference is for spending time with and talking to people, rather than relating to the world of non-human things. They will choose careers as school teachers, actors, ethicists, priests/nuns, public servants, value consultants, etc. They will also prefer a party which is somewhat conservative in its policies, however, they will put people ahead of balancing the budget. So, if their party spends too much money on welfare (i.e. caring for those who can't care for themselves), their party will probably be voted out of office and a party supported by the Quality Producers will be voted back in on the promise of spending cuts to bring the budget back into surplus.
People Servants are great facilitators, they are key to facilitating the oft difficult dialogue between the Visionary Leaders and the Transactional Leaders. Without this dialogue transformation is not possible. Understanding the worldviews and values of each group is essential to facilitating effective dialogue.

People-Abstract [Social Architects]

The Social Architects, like the People Servants, prefer the world of people to the world of non-human things. Social Architects are comfortable functioning in a world of uncertainty--in fact it's their preference--too much of the "same old, same old" and they get bored. Social Architects like to create models to understand how people behave, they like designing new social systems. They are the "greens", social-ecologists, social-activists, social scientists, social policy planners, etc. in our society.
     These people are potential Visionary Leaders in respect of societal and/or organisational change. As with the facilitators, to be effective as a visionary leader they must be able to gain rapport with those the desire to influence. Remember, the key is to change is firstly gaining real rapport with people. And, for genuine rapport to exist, people must really know that you are able to see the world through their eyes and therefore understand what they have the values they have.

*     *     *     *
In the video below, Matthew Taylor describes just how essential to our future are the coexistence of structure (maintaining world-views/transactional leadership), commitment and cohesiveness (the facilitative leader/mediator),  and innovation (visionary leadership).

Monday, 12 March 2012

If morality is broken, we can fix it

There's an excellent article in New Scientist [18 February 2012; p. 3] titled, "If morality is broken, we can fix it". The intro to the article reads, "SCIENCE has made great strides in explaining morality. No longer is it seen as something handed down from on high; instead it is an evolved system of enlightened self-interest. Altruism, for example, can benefit your genes and disgust can protect you from disease. This picture is progress, but it can also lead to a kind of fatalism, a belief that our moral values evolved for a good reason and so we should stick to them.
   "Yet some value judgements are difficult to fit into this framework. Why is it acceptable to take certain drugs but a criminal offence to take others? Why is it wrong to create human embryos to cure diseases endured by millions?
  "Now an experiment suggests that morality isn't entirely about evolutionary benefits to individuals [New Scientist, 18 February 2012; p. 10]. We also have an evolved tendency to make and obey arbitrary moral rules, probably as a way of promoting social cohesion.
   "That picture opens the door to more progress. Yes, we follow rules that bring little benefit and can even be positively harmful. But the rules are not set in stone, so there's nothing to stop us getting rid of those that don't work and putting better ones in their place."   

Saturday, 10 December 2011

What's the Minessence Group's Take on Memes?

Memes are ideas, tunes, inventions, retorts, ways of doing business, ways of asking for help, and ways of saying hello. (Palumbi 2001, p. 243) 
Over the past few decades there has been a shift in thought concerning the evolution of human culture. Ever since Dawkins, in his book The Selfish Gene, coined the term “meme” as the selfish unit of societal evolution analogous to the gene’s role in the evolution of species, there’s been a groundswell of people focussing on the evolution culture via memes.
     Dawkins suggested that memes, composed of memory and imagination, were the basic replicating units through which human culture evolved. Yet, memes simply do not fit the model of classic Darwinian evolution.
     Ideas are not passed on from one generation to another in a linear fashion as are genes. Most often, each person adds their own slant to an idea or may simply not understand it properly and pass on some distortion of the original (Chinese whispers). Also, people’s values have a profound impact on the transference of ideas. Values filter what people give attention to—people don’t even notice, let alone pass on, ideas which would make no contribution to what they value. People may also deliberately make a conscious choice to pass on, or not to pass on, particular ideas—knowledge is power. 
     The main distinction is: Darwinian evolution is about the survival of the species which, by chance, have adapted to change in a way which avoids their extinction; whereas, the survival of ideas depends on complex values dynamics:
The impact of conscious selection at the stage of idea mutation and transmission blurs the distinction among the three elements of Darwin’s engine and suggests a very different way of looking at ideas than Dawkins’s notion of evolving memes. Picked over as carefully as meatballs at a cheap buffet, ideas are sorted by the finicky process of conscious selection. They are created, used, and discarded by active minds seeking their own advancement or their own comfort. What other element of our lives do we consciously improve for better function and pick carefully among to fill our cultural shopping carts? We can also consider ideas as tools.
     As tools, ideas may be practical or not. They may have general or specific uses. Others may shun them or adopt them with gusto. Sometimes they seem to have a life and independence of their own, like the wooden handle of an axe that becomes polished through use to fit the hands that wield it. But in the final analysis they remain tools, ways of manipulating the world or understanding it. They do not evolve like genes because like tools, they cannot really replicate themselves—they can be made only on demand by brains, and only by this agency can they spread through to other brains. This does not say they always benefit us—akin to the way many of us have tool boxes stuffed full of things not currently doing us any good—and it does not claim that they can never do damage—like an unchaperoned gun. But the function and rapid change of ideas does not require their independent evolution...(Palumbi 2001, p. 252)
Q. If memes are not the mechanism by which culture changes, what is? A. Changes in the culture's values-system, i.e. changes t its strange attractor.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

How do I Become an Evolved Person?

People often write about levels of consciousness which is curious, since no one yet even knows what consciousness is, let alone able to define levels of this elusive concept!
     Brian Hall (Figure 1), Clare Graves (Figure 2) and others go so far as to suggest that human development is correlated to levels of consciousness.
Figure 1. Stages & Phases of Human Development (Source: Brian hall)
     Clare goes further than Hall's global consciousness level, seeming to imply there's no limit (Figure 2):
Figure 2. Levels of Human Consciousness Development
Supposedly, any person who has the global level consciousness of Hall's model, or is at level 10 or above of the Graves model, is an evolved person. There are two flaws in these and similar models of human development:
  1. Evolution cannot be tied to growth, development, progress or any other like concept. Identifying someone is an evolved person actually says nothing about who they are as a person, in fact the statement is rather meaningless.
  2. Levels of consciousness cannot be tied to values development.
Let's look at these flaws in more detail...
Evolution Cannot be Tied to Growth/Progress
Figure 3 is a typical technology timeline advertisement which explicitly assumes a link between evolution and progress:
Figure 3. Linking Evolution & Progress
However, Darwin himself pointed out that evolution is only about species adapting to change--those which adapt appropriately survive. It's about the continued existence of the fittest to survive. Those which survive are not better or more intelligent that those which didn't survive. They are simply those which survived because, by chance. they adapted to changed conditions in a way which prevented them from becoming extinct. The current evolution of the human species looks more like that depicted in the two cartoons of Figure 3:
Figure 3. Evolution of Man (Note: Not sexist, just  couldn't find equivalent cartoons with women in too)
If progress really was tied to evolution one would perhaps have expected a result more like this:
Figure 4. An Evolutionary Fantasy (sorry still sexist)
The cartoons of Figures 2 & 3 represent canonical icons--i.e. iconic depictions of an unconscious belief-set (in this case, a false belief-set) embedded in the psyche of Western culture. Interestingly, as highlighted by the side notes in the captions, these canonical icons are also linking males to evolution and progress. Figure 5 is the only one found which did include a female. How do you react to this image? Is it a cynical dig at the male concept of evolution and progress? Or, is it just using sexual imagery to promote something?
Figure 5. What's the Canonical Message?
In summary, there's no link between evolution and progress. In fact, letting this false belief guide our collective behaviour is a form of "cop-out": we don't have to think, put the brain in neutral and let random selection create a better world for us--"Sorry. It ain't gonna happen!"
Levels of Consciousness Cannot be tied to Values Development
What is consciousness? For starters, consciousness is not like an on-off switch where we are either conscious or unconscious. It's more like a dimmer switch, where it can go through a continuum from were you are totally disconnected from the world (asleep or in a coma) to the other end where you are totally pre-occupied with some worldly issue be it operating one someone's brain, repairing a car motor, writing a song, solving the problems of the world with a colleague, landscaping the garden...(Greenfield, 2000)
      Latest neuroscience (Geddes, 2011) has identified that consciousness is correlated with the synchronisation process of brain activities. The more our brain is involved in connecting all the dots, the more conscious we are. When we are most conscious, paradoxically, we disconnect from the world around us (our senses are effectively "turned off") and we lose track of time--we are in a state Czikszentmihalyi (1992) describes as flow...
Figure 6 is a simplified version of the diagram Czikszentmihalyi uses in his video.
Figure 6. Commensurate Increases in Challenge & Skills Creates Flow Experiences  
Whereas no scientific research has been uncovered which links consciousness with values development, raised consciousness (flow experience) is linked to skills development. It follows that there is a link of sorts with values, i.e. we will only ever be self-motivated to take on challenge and skills associated with activities which match our values. Click here for a case study where this approach is applied to living the value health/well-being.

So the term evolved person is rather meaningless because there's no link between evolution and progress or development. So lets re-frame the question to,  "How do I use my values to guide my personal development." Answer:

  1. Know and live your own values ("If you are not living your values, whose values are you living?)
  2. Continually seek to increase your skills in living your values using the model given in Figure 6
  3. Because we are part of nature, we cannot live our values any way we want, so live your values in consideration of other life on this planet.