We know culture eats strategy, structure and others for breakfast – it’s very hungry….
So it seems really appropriate at the start of a new year to learn how best you can deal with culture change because in this VUCA world it is part of the norm in order to innovate.
In a recent survey from PwC (2013) on Why Culture matters and how it makes Change Stick, 84% of the respondent believe culture is critical to the business with only 35% thinking their company’s culture is effectively managed. The top barriers to change are the usual culprits of competing commitments creating change fatigue and inadequate systems, processes…to support change with only 48% agreeing that critical capabilities aren’t in place to sustain change.
I believe one of most efficient way to sustain change is to upgrade your own internal capabilities, your operating system, mostly with internal change agents using (Systemic) Team Coaching as a conversational tool to bring about the desired result. This work is not for the faint… team coaches must be people who can gain the trust of intelligent, sceptical leaders and be able to engage the individuals and the whole group immediately.
A way of looking at Systemic Team Coaching through the connections of different fields and their relationships is to look at the work of Gregory Bateson.
An Ecology of Mind-The Gregory Bateson Documentary
He developed his theory of ‘the difference that makes a difference’ as a way of understanding something according to the relationships it has to other things, rather than seeing things as separate parts. He explained that the whole world is connected by the relationships between things.
Throughout his lifetime, he never settled into working in one field and worked across a wide spectrum of areas believing that how we understand the world isn’t separable into specific components, so different fields shouldn’t and cannot exist separately.
Everything is interconnected; every system is part of a network, individually and collectively starting with you and the interactions between your mind- body meaning your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and attitudes can positively or negatively affect your biological functioning.
For example, from an OD perspective, the pace of leadership development within an organisation, individually and collectively, must match or exceed the pace of change in its market. Linking the external pace of change and your own internal capabilities is one connection in this system, meaning you cannot treat L&D with just the sum of individual learning needs analysis within it.
Organisations are not separate machines that can be controlled, monitored, prescribed in a confined environment within functional silos. They aren’t just one network, it is several and they each have their own culture and identity.
The challenges and complexities of the interconnections of all these networks require culture stewards to change not what they know, but how they know. This requires a different kind of change, one which is more complex than simply adding more information (i.e. skills) to the way we may currently see the world.
The ways organisations usually react to these challenges and complexities of interconnections is by bringing about change in behaviours. In other words they usually treat the symptoms.
This has never been so true today as the general rule seems to be that the level of consciousness of an organisation cannot exceed the level of consciousness of its leaders.
"The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence - it is to Act with yesterday's logic" Peter Drucker
Systemic Team Coaching (STC) works with the team from the inside-out (team development) but also from the outside-in and the field is wide, blending, Group Relations Theory pioneered by the Tavistock Institute, (Team) Coaching competencies and Group Supervision, Action Learning with its tool kit of experiential learning exercises from the field of Dialogic Organization Development Approach to Transformation and Change, Team Facilitation/Development and most importantly Process Consulting as oppose to Expert Consulting.
Dialogic OD practices differ along a continuum from episodic to continuous change practices that overtime accumulate into a transformed state of being. Those sponsoring STC do not know exactly what changes are needed, wanted or how to achieve them outside of the behavioural symptoms such as lack of communication, trust….etc. – defined as horizontal learning. This has been best described by Heifetz (1998) as the difference between technical problems and adaptive challenges. This means that application of ‘best practices’ or pre-existing knowledge to identify and then implement change is unlikely to be successful.
Fredric Laloux’s recent book ‘Reinventing Organisations’ is a reminder to leaders that there is a horizontal and vertical developmental journey to take in order to create the kind of organisations that will be fit for purpose in the 21st century.
• ‘Horizontal Learning’ means improving and consolidating current competencies to continue to effectively meet the demands and expectations of the developmental stage we are at right now.
• ‘Vertical Learning’ means increasing our capability and capacity to include and integrate new competencies and qualities from a level above our current ‘meaning making’ stage.
This kind of developmental journey calls us to study our natural state and how we have become disconnected from our visceral sense of purpose, and to question and why we may no longer be having the impact we once had. No better place to reconnect to your nature than in nature itself.
Just like the study of nature from Bateson and his interest in systems theory we incorporate nature into our learning journeys with our STC students and have the privilege of using the Irish west coast landscape as a laboratory.
Just like the model of team effectiveness outlined by Wageman et al. (2008) documented from more than 120 leadership teams to assess team effectiveness, one of the enabling conditions identified is competent team coaching to help the team grow individually and as a team.
We invite you to immerse yourself in this landscape and walk your way to new understandings, new vision and renewed purpose in your life in order to become a change agent in 2016.
About the Author
Bernard Chanliau, ICF Ireland Coach of the year (2015) is a faculty member on Xenergie's Advanced Systemic Team Coaching Diploma accredited by the Association for Coaching UK (AADCT) and recognised by the International Coach Federation (94 CCEUs). A highly experienced and qualified C-Suite coach. He holds the Professional Certified Coach (PCC) status from the ICF and can be contacted on +353 (0)86 104 38 05 or LinkedIn.
*Image credit The Rhizome Network