The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence – it is to act with yesterday’s logic - Peter Drucker

The TurningTides Blog

Ideas and inspiration from Turning Tides

Collaboration: the hidden dynamics of belonging

collaboration 0317

There are few work places these days where collaboration isn’t on everyone’s lips. Or at least on the horizon. Individuals and teams are brought together for a variety of reasons. To reduce duplication, improve services, promote sustainability and in some cases, to ensure survival.  But leading merged or integrated teams is probably what gives leaders the most headaches.

Bringing people from different backgrounds and philosophies together in a shared endeavour is often laden with factionalism. 

In previous leadership roles I was often left perplexed when teams would move in an agreed direction of change only to spring back to where they had been a few weeks earlier. Like releasing the stretch on an elastic band. Ping!

Something had the system in its grip, but what?

As a coach and facilitator I work with leaders who are navigating complex change. Health and social care is one such example where they are working together to create a new landscape of integrated services. It's a complex business.

There's a tendency to focus attention at the level of the individual or the team when things get stuck. But sometimes 'difficult behaviours', conflict and repeating patterns are actually manifestations of something amiss in the system. 

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Boundaries create the freedom to innovate

Yin and Yang

Making change happen is difficult. But sometimes we make it harder than it needs to be. In complex organisations where services are interconnected and interdependent, one of the most helpful interventions we can make is to clearly define the parameters for change.

 Boundaries help people make sense of what aspect of their world is changing and what, for now, is staying the same. It's an element of the change process that tends to get cursory attention. My guess is that it gets caught up in the 'we don't want to be too prescriptive' box.

The result? We heighten the anxiety for those caught up in the change. 

A clearly bounded change initiative helps create the security for people to let go of personal concerns and put their energies into moving forward. Maslow's Hierarchy of needs has been an enduring guide for me in this respect. It's hard for people to rise to the challenge if they're experiencing crippling anxiety about what the change means for them.

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U Lab Reflections at the turn of the U

U Lab Reflections

I'm undertaking the U Lab programme sponsored by Scottish Government. Angie Meffan-Main who is coordinating the programme invited me to write a blog post on the experience so far.  Here's my reflections....

Half-way through the U Lab programme it's too early to report on outcomes. We're currently sitting at the bottom of the U.

Instead I reflect on the origins of The Melting Pot Hub in Edinburgh and some of the questions that are arising for me as Host. Maybe these questions will resonate with others.

Hubs are a feature of the U Lab programme and bring the learning alive. They're self organised and connect people by virtue of special interest or locality.  

Since the independence referendum and probably long before, people in Scotland, whatever their political affiliation, seemed to be searching for something different. It was nebulous but palpable. 

If change is so 'wanted', does this mean that the journey to the 'something different' will be easier? Less fraught? 

When the conditions are right and the political will is there, will change happen more fluidly? 

These are some of the questions that have emerged for me.

The Roots of What's Gone Before Are Still Growing

Otto Scharmer describes the dance between the security of the familiar and fear of the unknown as the complex interplay of 'Presencing' and 'Absencing'.

Dayna Cunningham's contributions as a guest speaker during week 3 of U Lab were particularly powerful. Using a tree metaphor to describe her experience of campaigning against racism, she reflected that you can chop down the tree but the roots continue growing unseen for years to come.  

Liken the roots to the behaviours that support the status quo and you get a sense of why planned change can be problematic. The roots of what's gone before are still there to trip you up.

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