This is the third in a series of four posts capturing my thoughts and experiences while engaging with the U Lab programme Transforming Business, Society and Self.
Guided by the U Lab process I've been reflecting on how leaders are supported in their organisational and service change work. Hosting a Hub at the Melting Pot on 'Sustaining the Change Makers' has meant I've engaged with the process at deeper level than I might have. It's certainly encouraged me to think differently.
Navigating the System
In Scotland much of the success in public service reform will lie in the ability of leaders, teams and individuals to work collaboratively across the sectors to build more equal, enabled and resilient communities.
Systems’ thinking tells us that the implicit role of the system is to maintain the status quo. Corporate governance arrangements, while important for public accountability, can become overly concerned with protecting the interests of the organisation militating against their ability to collaborate with external partners.
Ambivalence can result. Senior leaders know they have to collaborate but cultural norms and accountabilities get in the way.
Middle managers receive mixed messages and are left to navigate the turbulent waters of collaboration.
Oshry in his book Seeing Systems doesn’t mince his words:
"Tops are burdened by what feels like unmanageable complexity...... Middles are torn and confused between the conflicting demands and priorities...."