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.
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.
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