#WorkingOutLoud Sharing Extracts From ‘The Change Handbook’

Today i’m sharing a section I’ve just completed around the ’16 Amplifiers of Change’, specifically, a section on ‘validation’. The premise is that we can amplify change if we align with a range of these factors, and ‘validation’ is about ensuring we recognise the value of the lived experience of everyone in the organisation. Note that this is #WorkingOutLoud, so shared incomplete and not yet proofed! I anticipate publishing this work around August.

Amplifiers of Change


Recognising the social structure of the organisation is more than simply believing in the wisdom of the crowd: it’s fundamentally about seeing value in the grounded, lived experience of the very individuals that we employed to get the work done. The Socially Dynamic Organisation benefits from the strategic review and experience that is held within the hierarchy, and at the level of the executive, but benefits equally from the tacit and tribal knowledge that lives right down through the organisation.

An amplifier of change can be the ability of the organisation to validate the ideas that emerge from the tribal community. Not validate them in terms of scoring them or making them formal, but rather in terms of helping people to shape and believe in their own capability, and a true validity of the views that they hold, even if those views differ from our own.

The 16 Resisters of change

There is a nuance to this: our own sense of individual self worth and purpose is grounded in a certain validation of our own ideas. If the execution of those ideas consistently leads to rebuke or failure, and if we are wise, we will learn to evolve those ideas. Unless particularly dogmatic, we will generally be motivated to evolve our view to a point where we can achieve validation.

It’s probably useful to consider two aspects of validation: validation through the formal system, and validation in the social system, which ties directly into the different types of power that we have considered earlier. Validation within the formal system, recognised by the formal hierarchy, may give a status against that hierarchy, whilst validation within social system can give us direct networked power, there are very real benefits to both.

In a typical constrained state of change, we see those two types of power working against each other: a desire to change, but a reward for stasis. Within a resistant organisation we see one type of power trying to deny the other: no desire to change, and an active imposition of control over renegade elements. In a Socially Dynamic context, good ideas and engagement are recognised for their validity in both systems.

But this is clearly not a matter of platitudes: the social filtering mechanisms of the social system should help us to identify that thinking which the community most strongly believes to be true, whilst we can use formal mechanisms, such as panels or the views of leaders to consider which aspects the formal organisation most strongly believes to be valid. Validation itself is a force felt internally: it’s most likely to be achieved through gentle recognition and engagement of the organisation with the beliefs of the individual.

As with all of these things, it’s a matter of balance. Validation is just one of the 16 amplifiers of change: in itself it will not transform an organisation, but no single factor is likely to do so. The challenge really is to actively consider it within our thinking about change.

What you need to do:

1. Recognise that validation is an important personal cognitive factor of engagement.

2. Consider the mechanisms by which your formal organisation can discover and recognise the validity of individual contribution and publicly reflect it back.

3. Consider how to empower the social community to filter and identify individual

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Sharing Extracts From ‘The Change Handbook’

I’m spending the whole of this week writing ‘The Change Handbook: building the Socially Dynamic Organisation’, as i try to complete a full first draft this week. As is my habit when dedicated to long from writing, i’m not creating anything new for the blog, but sharing extracts of what i’m writing. These some snapshots as i work between the digital copy and the full printout (i like having a paper copy to make notes on).

The Change Handbook

The Change Handbook (which is still a working title) explores how organisations change, and how they become constrained in change, as well as sharing a vision of how we can help them to become more ‘socially dynamic’, with both great formal strength, and great strength of engaged communities.

The Change Handbook

The manuscript is around 65k words right now, but still some work to do to get to a full draft.

The Change Handbook

I’ve been working on aspects of this (and #WorkingOutLoud, sharing extracts on the blog) for around three years now.

The Change Handbook

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An Overview of the Dynamic Change Framework

I’m spending the whole of this week #WorkingOutLoud, trying to complete a full draft of the book called ‘The Change Handbook: Building the Socially Dynamic Organisation’. Regular readers will recognise that, through various iterations, i’ve been working on this for the last three years, so it’s a substantial body of work. Certainly my largest book so far. If all goes well, i will publish it around August this year. Currently the manuscript stands at 65k words, around 350 pages, and 70 illustrations. So far this week i’ve reworked the core model, which sits in part 3. It’s the Dynamic Change Framework, and the new version looks like this.

The Dynamic Change Framework

Previously, i showed it as two models, one (the outer layer) was ‘from Resistant to Constrained’, and the second (the inner four, currently in blue) were ‘From Constrained to Dynamic’. But i didn’t really like it: it was too tidy, and one of the core messages of the book is that change is not tidy, and that change is not a process. So i’m currently representing it as these eight aspects of change: eight tiles which can move around, indeed, the other eight blank tiles represent that ability to move, that balance between the formal and social spaces. As i’m dedicating this whole week to writing, i’ll just share the initial overview of the model that i’ve just written for the book.

“I do not believe that holistic change can come about through a change process alone: a change process would be something that is owned by the organisation and gives an impression that change is a linear activity. Instead, we have spent our time so far exploring the notion of a Socially Dynamic Organisation, one which has a deeply held capability to change, maintained in a dynamic tension between the formal organisation and the communities that it houses.

Dynamic Tension

But whilst change is not a process, I believe that we can represent aspects of change, an approach that we can take over time to support us as we co-create and co-own change. I’m representing that with this change framework.

The framework represents eight aspects of change: around the outside we see how the organisation can frame the change, work with the community to co-create answers, adapt in response to its actions, and narrate the learning back into the organisation. In the centre we see how a community can segment the resistance to change, own or allocate the challenges that come out of that, build individual agency, and embed the change.

The actions around the outer edge are broadly meant to represent those actions that can be taken as part of a change programme, whilst the actions in the centre largely take place within communities, but the distinction is not intended to be absolute. Indeed, the tiles should be movable, and presence of the blank tiles represents that fact.

A Socially Dynamic Organisation will hold all eight tiles in constant motion.

The organisation will frame the change, the community will segment the resistance, ideas and innovation will emerge from the communities in an act of co-creation, individual aspects of change will be owned by individuals or allocated to teams, there will be a high level of individual agency, the organisation will adapt as it goes, using constant iterative cycles, change will be embedded, and narrated. A learning organisation, an organisation with a deeply held ability to change.

I’m fully aware that this model is less tidy than a linear change journey, and that’s really the point: a Socially Dynamic Organisation has a diversified strength, a strength that is held partly in its formal ability to drive change through direct control, and partly in its ability to socially co-create and socially moderate change within its communities.

Under this approach is not really feasible to block out some things and say that they purely sit within the remit of the organisation, and other things, which sit purely within the remit of the social communities. Instead, we feel this constant dynamic tension between all eight aspects, between the formal and social communities.”

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Running Away From The Circus: Change In Two Dimensions

I came across this wonderfully written story charting the final performances of Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus this week.

Change in Two Dimensions

The whole circus travelled by train, nearly 70 carriages, over a mile long, some for storage and transport, but many forming the travelling town where the performers lived for 11 months of the year. There’s a great pathos in the story: some second or third generation performers, packing their bags, watching as the train draws away for the last time.

The story is significant: it’s a story of change.

Changing locations, as the circus moves from town to town, permanently impermanent. There are stories of learning and performance, adaptation, movement: the rise and fall of the ‘freak shows’, the loss of the elephants from the show, and finally the appointment of the first female Ring Master.

It’s not that the circus isn’t still relevant: Cirque du Soleil is wildly popular, contemporary, enabled by technology, whilst Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey was rooted not simply in the old traditions, but within the old infrastructure too. Until the threat of unionisation caused the family to drop it, they employed hundreds of ‘canvasmen’, who set up and tore down Big Bertha, the big top tent, at every location.

Increasingly i view change in two dimensions: change within the system, which forms the first dimension, and change outside it, which is the second. RBB&B changed within it’s system: they streamlined, adapted, often under pressure, often with pain, often at cost, but still failed: they failed because they failed to adapt to the second dimension of change: a fundamental shift in perspective, a social movement, a loss of acceptance for a core principle, that of using animals in performance, as well as a move away from mobile infrastructure.

Many highly capable Organisations face the same risk: they change in ways they know, whilst failing to recognise the scale of disruption in the ecosystem itself. They are often wilfully blind to the change.

Adapt in both dimensions, and you can thrive: fail, and you fail. But to adapt in the second dimension, to fundamentally adapt to the realities of the Social Age, is to become Socially Dynamic. To thrive in change. To have a mindset and capability that is rooted in agility, through the connectedness of community, through high trust, through fairness, through strong Social Leadership, through humility. It’s not an easy journey.

Old loco at Tirano, Italy on the Bernina Express

© Julian Stodd

The Circus train was pulled by locomotives, but you cannot pull an organisation through change: you can inspire it, create individual agency, and channel that energy. Co-created change. If we do that, then we can perform, and continue to perform.

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Rapid Prototyping: The MOODPost3000

I’ve written recently about emergent technology, and the innovation and impacts we see around us: this work explores a basket of seven areas of innovation, one of which is ‘Temperature Checks‘. The idea here is that we can move away from annual surveys, performance reviews, conferences and so on, towards more synchronous, meaningful and effective measures.

Future Technology - temperature checks

In a rather daft project, i’m pleased to say that we are prototyping one such approach next week, with some decidedly homegrown technology! Sam has been working with me to take the idea forward, and he’s used a Raspberry Pi (plus some solder, an old radio, and a lot of imagination) to create this first prototype.

Mood Post 3000

It’s designed to let us rapidly test the ‘temperature‘, the mood, of the community at the conference next week: we all have a Near Field Communication tab within our name badges, which allow us to ‘vote’ at the post. You are able to chose one of five ‘moods’, then dial up how strongly you feel that thing. The moods are: ‘confused’, ‘trusting‘, ‘tired’, ‘curious’, and ‘excited’.

Temperature Checks

As you vote, the results are synchronously collated in a Google Form, plotted every half hour, showing the aggregated ‘temperature’ of the group. Even in our prototype trials, we’ve been able to see when the group is ‘excited’, or ‘tired’. You can start to see the results here, and the ways they cluster, to show when the group is excited, or tired.

The MOOD Post 3000 is really an illustration of principle: what will the Socially Dynamic Organisation look like, when it can measure multiple, synchronous, metrics of ‘temperature’. Stay connected to the Trust research to see how we will add this dimension in over time too. For now, have a play, and think about what you could do with this type of approach.

I’m sharing this as very early stage #WorkingOutLoud, partly to illustrate how our approach to change in the Social Age is less about heavy technology, vast infrastructure, and great cost, more about the community around you and the mindset that we bring.

Next week, we will be working on the interface: exploring ways to share the mood back into the community.

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#WorkingOutLoud: Illustrations on the Socially Dynamic Organisation

I spent yesterday working with a group of around forty HR leaders, exploring aspects of the Socially Dynamic Organisation: i took the chance to sketch up some reflections, just my notes really, but sharing them here as part of #WorkingOutLoud. This first piece broadly explores some foundational principles, the mindset, and the ecosystem that it exists within.

Sketching the Socially Dynamic Organisation

This second piece specifically looks at concerns expressed: areas of disruption observed, and some thinking around them.

Sketching the Socially Dynamic Organisation

The third illustration explores something about the mindset that the Organisation will have.

Sketching the Socially Dynamic Organisation

And, finally, some specific thoughts about the culture of the Socially Dynamic Organisation.

Sketching the Socially Dynamic Organisation

These four illustrations were not really sketched up as a coherent set, but just covering the areas of key concern to the group throughout our conversations across the day.

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Crowdfunding ‘The Trust Sketchbook’: Art and Science

Today, i’m launching a crowdfunding campaign for a prototype of The Trust Sketchbook. It’s a limited edition proof of concept, for a co-drawn, co-created, and co-owned exploration of ‘trust‘, exploring what trust is, how it’s held between individuals and within teams, and across organisations themselves. The Trust Sketchbook is a project that i’m running in parallel with The Landscape of Trust research project, a scientific study into the same subject. So: one art project, and one science, which i hope will compliment each other.

The Trust Sketchbook

Inherent in the understanding of agility, of #WorkingOutLoud, or even of the Socially Dynamic Organisation, is the notion of incompleteness: a sense of iteration and evolution in design. Not a lack of focus, but rather a contextualisation in the moment. My inspiration for the Sketchbook comes from my work around Social Learning: in a Scaffolded approach to learning, we don’t just write a story and tell it to people, rather we create spaces for people to explore. That’s what i’m trying to do here: create a space to explore, through reflection, writing, and drawing.

Sketchbook of Trust

But it’s a prototype, and i am comfortable with a reasonable expectation of failure.

I crowdfunded the book that is currently in production, on ‘Social Leadership: my 1st 100 days‘, but that was different. It’s fully formed, complete. Indeed, it took me the bulk of the time invested to simply draw the one hundred and three images. The Trust Sketchbook will be different: the first of a series of iterations, more of a ‘zine’ than a book (you may remember i’ve done two previous Zine experiments, one around Equality, and one as a semi academic Journal).

Trust Sketchbook - trust in organisations

I may fail to get it funded, or it may simply fail in the execution: but if you spend all your time worried about failure, then you’ll simply fail to take the first step.

In the Landscape of Trust research, i’m investing a great deal of time in data gathering and analysis. I already have well over a hundred submissions, and am starting preliminary critical discourse analysis on the texts this week. The research methodology for this will involve both qualitative and quantitative data collection. It’s a pretty decent study, if i do say so myself, and the initial results are already fascinating (i will be #WorkingOutLoud and publishing the analysis as i go, probably give me a few more weeks to get the first piece ready to go). But it’s always fun to explore other languages of learning.

I have always resented the distinction between art and science, not for anything inherent in it’s definition, but rather the way that our education systems tend to encourage people to think that they are ‘creative‘, or not. I have always happily blundered between the two, and i honestly believe that most people can express themselves in both these languages, if given a chance.

So: the Trust Sketchbook is a lighthearted, semi frivolous, but semi serious attempt, to explore that space: it’s co-created, because you fill it in yourself. It’s co-drawn, because i’m only sketching in black ink and leaving wide open spaces, and it’s co-owned, because the narrative structure is there, but the words need to be written within it.

If it succeeds, i will continue to iterate it, and see if it can form an eventual parallel publication to the full Trust book (something i will work on in 2018, when the full Landscape study is complete). If it fails, i will use it as a chance to #WorkOutLoud and reflect upon my own learning. Either way, i think it will be a fun ride.

You can check out the Kickstarter campaign for the Trust Sketchbook here.

You can take part in the Landscape of Trust research project here.

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