Philip Sheldrake

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Tag: stowe boyd

Deliberate and emergent, by design

crab sand

I've been trying to reconcile the apparent tensions between the deliberate and emergent strategy schools of thought. After all, it's a fundamental question at the heart of organizational life today.

Defining deliberate and emergent strategy

The deliberate strategy process is the one with which most people are most familiar if only because it dominated 20th Century organizational life and still does. A senior team reviews the market, the trends, the SWOT, the fruits of R&D, etc., and formulates strategy – where to play and how to win – that the wider organization is then charged with executing. And based on nothing more than atavistic agricultural habits that are now largely irrelevant, we exhibit a predilection for going through this process with a calendar based drumbeat.

Emergent strategy adherents on the other hand insist that such practice is pure fancy. It's divination beyond the realm of even the most cogent, gifted and able senior leadership team. The deliberate strategy process supports C-title egos and little else. Rather, we're better off making the organization sensitive to even the slightest changes, the weakest of signals, and developing an organizational fabric with the agility to react appropriately, to exploit opportunity and close down risk. Read more

Organization is software

Angkor Thom, Cambodia
This post is about an exciting vista for organization, one that may sound unhuman on the face of it but which, in contrast, I think could serve human dignity very well.

I first presented it in my Future of Organization video May 23rd, a presentation that appears to have been well received (and the accompanying Slideshare accrued over 2000 views in the week). Given the variety and perceptiveness of the comments the video garnered I'm particularly pleased to have excused the presentation up front as being far from comprehensive. Pete Burden picked up on building inclusiveness and sustainability, and humanity, pointing me to this webpage on concious business. And soulfulness was at the heart of a similar exchange with Frederic Laloux, author of Reinventing Organizations. (I consequently elevated the book to the top of my to-read pile and at page 36 I'm enjoying it very much so far.)

Mr. Wirearchy himself, Jon Husband, was good enough to 'tweet out' (appended here). And my dear friend Gabbi Cahane wondered what balance of my living in the future and living in the present might be best for business. Hmm, good point :-)

In this post, I'm referring to what I've named Bread incorporated – a distributed, self-regulating, incorruptible, frictionless market for organization. Here's the slide in question and the transcript: Read more

Organizational performance – a private conversation that should have been public and is now

Adam Pisoni and Stowe Boyd

This is a conversation between Adam Pisoni, Stowe Boyd and me relating to a guest post I made to Brian Solis' blog, Impatience is a Virtue – What's Next for Social Business.

The conversation played out on email, which is ironic given that all three of us advocate "working out loud" unless confidentiality precludes it. I take the blame for emailing in the first place and hope to make up for the transgression by publishing it now. I have removed those conversational niceties that pepper emails, inserted some helpful hyperlinks and comments in square brackets by way of explaining some of the terms used and topics raised, and tweaked a few things to improve readability here.

[Photo of Adam by Intel Free Press. Photo of Stowe by Paul J Corney.]


Adam

Honestly, one of the most enlightening aspects of finally working within a real, big enterprise [Microsoft acquired Yammer in 2012] is the affect of performance management and budgets. Yammer loved to yell at our large customers to just change how they worked. That anyone at any level could affect change. But what you see inside large companies is that really good people will do all the wrong things either because they eventually feel pressured to optimize for what they are incentivised to do, or because their scope of power is too narrow to affect any change. This happens with budgets all the time. Two people in different parts of the org may have an idea that could make the company lots of money, but since the budgets were set up a year in advance, they can't shift the money between them. Read more

“Our goal is to become a social business but how do we get the revolution started?”

revolution Ukraine demonstrators

During a deep and meaningful conversation recently, my interlocutor declared:

Our goal is to become a social business but how do we get the revolution started?

This post addresses two problems integral to this statement.

A means not an end

Social business is a fairly fuzzy concept at the best of times. Some consider it synonymous with terms such as Enterprise 2.0, Agile Business, Responsive Organization, and Future Work, whereas others more deeply invested in any one may argue the differences. For the record, I describe social business by way of the following challenge:

Do you help all the individuals associated with your organization (employees, customers, partners, suppliers, shareholders, etc.) build worthwhile relationships with each other and others, coalescing by need and desire, knowledge and capability and shared values, to create shared value?

Shared values

Some pundits prefer to talk about shared purpose rather than shared values, and I think this may well be akin to Stowe Boyd differentiating between collaboration and cooperation with shared purpose relating to collaboration and shared values relating to cooperation. In his words: Read more

Stowe Boyd’s manifesto and The People’s Front

The People's Front

Stowe Boyd recently published "A Manifesto For A Third Way Of Work" (although the title will change). The manifesto forms the basis of the book Stowe plans to write throughout 2014, crystallizing the perspectives and insight he has forged and assembled over the years. And if you've read Attenzi – a social business story then you'll know Stowe and I think alike on many matters.

[Update 20th March 2014: the title changed to A Manifesto For A New Way of Work.]

Here are the major theses, and I have identified with an asterisk the four I have chosen to argue below.

_____

Dissensus (versus Consensus)

— active and directed dissent is a better way to counter the cognitive biases of groups and individuals, and to sidestep groupthink; essential to increased innovation and creativity truly driving business

Cooperative (versus Collaborative)

— sidesteps the politics and collectivism of consensus-based decision-making, and shifts to looser, laissez-faire cooperative work patterns

Creativity (versus Tradition)

— new solutions to problems are needed, and traditional approaches may not only be broken but dangerous

Autonomy (versus Heteronomy)

— paradoxically, as we come into a time when we acknowledge that we are more connected to each other than ever before, a great degree of autonomy will become the norm; old demands to subordinate all personal interests to those of the collective will be displaced by a personal re-engagement in our own work and a commitment to a deeper work culture that transcends any one company’s corporate culture Read more

Social business in 2014 and your last ever New Year’s resolution

2014 - Happy New Year

We've all done it.

It doesn't matter if you're a professional data driven content marketer, or some poor soul who's been told to conjure up the December post for the company blog, the temptation to write that post about the looming New Year is, well, too tempting.

If you're looking for real link fodder, best include a call to action and sell the idea that something may be learned and put into valuable action before Santa boots up Google Maps, post title bait such as:

Planning for social media ROI in 2014

(but the true value of social isn't quite so straight forward)

14 social predictions that will transform your organisation in 2014

(or read Attenzi)

Your New Year Resolution – Simplify the Complexities of Social Media

(yeah right)

But when you think about 2014, ask yourself what's in a year? "The period it takes the Sun to complete one course throughout the zodiac along the ecliptic" says Wikipedia. And as I ask in my Attenzi story: "Why are the frequency and duration of our plans linked to the time it takes our planet to complete a particular cycle around the Sun? What’s 365 days got to do with our business exactly?"

If you champion social business you champion agility, responsiveness and adaptability. Not the annual planning slog.

More often than not I get shouted down for being short-termist at this point. Yet I believe a long-term vision remains as critical to business success as ever, but flexibility (finding a new course to execute the strategy; operational) and agility (recognizing when the strategy needs adaption; strategic) are business critical too. We're talking about the facility to take complexity into account.

Stowe Boyd goes even further. "The fast-and-loose business that is emerging as the new way of work runs more like a forest or a city than machinery. We need to learn by imitating rich ecosystems, where the appearance of chaos yields to emergent order, and reject order imposed by design." I love this outlook but don't subscribe to it in extremis.

Either way, the most interesting New Year's Resolution you might make for your organisation in 2014 is to make it your last.

“Social business is dead!” … “Whatever!”

Published as a guest post on briansolis.com, Friday 8th November 2013, in response to Chris Heuer's post "Social Business is Dead! Long Live What’s Next!"


As he finished a game of Cut The Rope on his iPhone, my young godson asked what my phone was like when I was his age. I broke it down for him. I was in my twenties before someone offered to take north of ten thousand dollars for a basic digital camera, and not much less for a GPS device. And I got my first basic mobile phone (I explained that means just making phone calls and sending text messages) as I approached thirty.

A few days later, as she dispatched her umpteenth snapchat of the morning, my niece asked me why I obviously enjoy what I do for a living. Imagine a whole lifetime, I replied, during which the only innovation was a tweak to the angle of the plow shear.

Scientists and engineers have been good to us. We’ve come to expect serious technological innovation with the regularity of the seasons. So, just like Chris Heuer, I’m more than ready for corresponding organizational change.

Now.

As in right now!

Having reflected briefly on the vast progression of the Internet and the web, computing, mobile infrastructure and social media services – as if you needed a reminder – let’s look at what’s changed at the typical organization during this time, my adult lifetime. Or more pertinently what hasn’t. Read more