Agile Through Design

I”m #WorkingOutLoud, expanding on a few ideas today about the Socially Dynamic organisation: the type of fully adapted entity that would sit at the ‘Dynamic’ end of the Change framework that I’ve been sharing recently.

The Socially Dynamic Organisation and Agility

The Socially Dynamic organisation has space for wide diversity of thought: it’s strength comes not from uniformity of thought, convergence of thinking and agreement in all details, but rather from its ability to hold open ambiguity and curiosity.

Alongside this space for ambiguity is a strength in prototyping and iteration: the Socially Dynamic organisation is not agile through immediate excellence, but rather through its ability to learn and learn to be excellent. There is a difference: to be excellent requires a giant leap, whilst the journey to excellent requires many small steps. Is the ability to take these steps and find our way which marks the organisation as agile.

In this type of organisation we would see many layers of storytelling: personal stories of learning and change over time, co-created stories as the organisation finds its way, and an organisational story based upon the personal and co-created. A story written by every level of the organisation, not just by the leadership and imposed on individuals.

The 3 levels of narrative

I’m often asked which organisations are truly dynamic within the context of the Dynamic Change framework. Whilst hard to answer with any single organisation, I can tell you a key differentiating feature of all Socially Dynamic organisations: they have a deeply embedded methodology for creativity. Both formal and social filtering mechanisms that allow good ideas to be heard, explored, tested, prototyped and exploited. Part of this is a democratised potential: whilst in the Resistant or Constrained organisation potential is often linked to hierarchy and position, in the Socially Dynamic organisation it is linked purely to the strength of ideas and value one adds within community.

Creativity and Innovation

This embedded curiosity is essential for the Socially Dynamic organisation as it allows permission for continuous questioning of formal authority in a constructive framework. This is both a symptom of, and contributor to, the fact that this type of organisation is deeply fair, recognising expertise when it emerges rather than simply where formal roles are bestowed.

Unlike the traditional organisation where the verticals of HR, IT, legal, compliance and so forth are controlling entities, the fully adapted organisation will be both scaffolded and facilitating, agile through design not simply by aspiration.

Mechanisms of Control

Social filtering is a benefit of the high functioning communities we will see within this type of organisation: the capability to detect, aggregate and amplify relevant weak signals through the noise. This will likely take place across highly diversified technologies where there is an overall technology architecture which is both fluid, adaptive, and semi-disposable, not procured and therefore semipermanent.

Agility is an output of the Socially Dynamic organisation, not an aspiration of the Constrained one. Agility is more than simply words, it’s a deeply embedded capability delivered by mindset, process, permission and need, but none of those things in isolation. Whilst highly desirable it’s also highly difficult to master.

I’ll continue to explore more aspects of the Socially Dynamic organisation as i complete work on the new book around the Dynamic Change framework, before expanding this into more of a developmental pathway: a route map to agility.

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About julianstodd

A learning and development professional specialising in e-learning and learning technology.
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