Tuesday, 19 April 2016

A leader sharing his passion...

I saw this fantastic video post at a the New Zealand Community Trust Conference "Seed" last week and was super impressed......it show Ford Foundation President Darryn Walker paying tribute to Ballet Hispanico and it that same time show off his love for dance.... So refreshing to see the CEO of a multi billion dollar organisation being so authentic and gutsy....kind of makes you connect with the guy I reckon....

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Thought piece....."How art, technology and design inform creative leaders"

Really enjoyed watching this Tedtalk from John Maeda recently.   Lots of engaging and thought provoking ideas re creative leadership in the future....for example...
"A traditional leader loves to avoid mistakes, A creative leader loves to learn from mistakes"
"leaders connect improbable connections"

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Building a thriving leadership incubator

This presentation was made at the INTASE Leadership Conference, Singapore in April.

Building a thriving leadership incubator from Chris Jansen

 It focussed on the shift in the development of leaders from one off leadership development events like workshops and conferences (ironically) to leadership development processes that connect a number of components over a 6-12 month period of time.  In the work of Leadership Lab (our consultancy) such a process is created in the form of an incubator, one that cultivates and grows leaders.
The presentation outlines a range of design principles that Leadership Lab uses to create such an incubator. These are based on the work of Paulo Friere, Brazilian social justice advocate and educator who recommended that learning is based on the 5 step process below. The key to this process is that it allows the learner to define and explore the problem they are addressing, to consider external 'expert' information and to critique this content to consider its relevance to their context.  This approach puts the leader (or learner) firmly in the 'drivers seat' as recommended in Leadership Lab's design principles.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Weaving collaboration: Exploring new possibilities in post-quake Canterbury

At a recent Community Leadership Day organised by the Christchurch City Council (Shirley Papanui ward), a colleague of mine Dr Billy O'Steen and I presented a workshop with the title above -"weaving collaboration".  At the beginning of the session we held up a very large Tongan fine mat (as photographed in the slides below) and asked the leaders to reflect on the ways in which a woven mat could be a metaphor for collaboration...... idea emerged such as....it takes more than 6 people to weave a mat like that at the same time, its incredibly strong compared to the strength of each thread, it can carry weight, people dialogue while weaving a mat, you can sit on a mat and it protects you, it has a pattern which incorporates diverse colours and textures....etc....

We then suggested that the most urgent need in Christchurch (a city 3 years on from disaster and still very much in the beginnings of recovery) was the weaving of collaboration, strategic partnerships, alliances and interconnected initiatives across diverse and sometimes opposing groups and individuals.   This gnarly collaboration is forged under intense pressure and amongst strong emotion.  We shared some of the key principles we had learnt in building such collaborations.......as seen in slide below...

A key principle is awareness of the temptation to resort to a simple either-or scenario where different parties take sides around any particular issue.... and the vital decision for leaders to instead adopt a both-and approach - refusing to take sides but instead looking at the issue from both perspectives simultaneously - acknowledging the partial truth in each....

Finally we shared two examples of new collaborative processes in Christchurch, one in Riccarton West Community and one in the Heathcote Community. Both of these were forged over time and through the patient weaving of 'invisible threads' based on authentic relationships, shared vision, small steps and people working alongside each other over the long term.  

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Complexity based leadership: navigating adaptive challenges

This presentation below was one of four that I designed for the EARCOS Leadership Conference in Bangkok last month (the others are available under "Presentations and Publications").  
Slide 5 refers to the distinction that is often drawn between technical challenges that can be solved with knowledge and procedures that have been tested, and fine-tuned in another context and imported into this current situation versus adaptive challenges which are far more complex, do not readily respond to direct interventions and require completely new solutions to be created.  Unfortunately our collective track record of successfully and sustainably solving these adaptive challenges is under 30%

In this workshop we explored the following 5 questions that a leader of adaptive change could consider (slide 4);
1) Why are we changing? (Is the opportunity and/or threat worth the risk)
2) Where are we heading to? (What future vision is guiding us?)
3) How do we design our change journey? (What underlying design principles could be helpful?)
4) Who do we collaborate with? (How we engage others on this change journey?)
5) What steps do we take?  (What would an change leadership action plan look like?)

Lets explore each of these questions in more depth over the next month or two.....
...have a great Christmas :) 

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Creating ideas...


I came across this Prezi last month as part of some development work I was undertaking......I have shared it here for two reasons.....
....I love the interactive format in which it gives us an overview of this "HOW Design Live 2013" innovation event in San Francisco in June 2013.  Craig Bieri has used a simple but powerfully visual prezi format to showcase a range of people at this event that he connected with.  If you haven't come across prezi have a look at www.prezi.com  Its free and has a whole bunch of inbuilt design templates that really change the way we can communicate and interact with others.

.... I also enjoyed a few of the presentations themselves - you might like to check out;

  • Danny Gregory - "How your sketch book can open your mind, boost creativity and rock your world
  • Austin Kleon - "Steal like an artist" 
Austin's presentation talks about the value of exposing ourselves to all sorts of inspiration, then making it our own, making it better and then sharing it with others.... I completely agree and thrive on working alongside colleagues (both in person and virtual) to create new mash ups of existing frameworks and techniques... the concept of shared IP and collective contribution is the name of the game these days!

Monday, 8 July 2013

Accelerate - leveraging collective intelligence...

Every organisation I work with is prioritising the ability to adapt, learn, grow and be responsive to new opportunities (and threats) that are part of the ever changing context that they work in.  One of the key ways to develop this learning agility is to foster collective intelligence.  This entail tapping into the expertise of a wide range of people in an organisation rather than the more common hierarchical process of creating strategy at the top management level and then presenting this strategy to the rest of the organisation to then implement.  

Leveraging collective intelligence actually has two significant organisational benefits; 
  1. It allows the organisation to create a wider range of smart ideas (more brains involved) 
  2. The process of doing this also builds engagement of staff since as we have discussed in earlier posts - our commitment and ownership of an initiative is often proportional to how much input we had into the creation of the initiative.  
There are many mechanisms used to foster and leverage this collective intelligence. All of these involve creating forums where people from different parts and levels of an organisation meet together and discuss the initiative within a structured process. The phrase altering the social architecture is often used to describe how these new ways of interacting are intentionally implemented.    Some examples include; 
  • cross functional teams
  • focus groups 
  • vertical teams
  • multi-disciplinary teams and interdisciplinary teams (health) 
  • design charrette (architecture and design) 
  • think tanks
  • google days (a day set aside for employees to create projects of their choice) 
  • operational process groups (Outward Bound) 
  • agile development methodologies ie SCRUM
  • accelerate teams
Generally these teams have a set project and a limited time frame (a month to a year).  However in his article in the link above, John Kotter takes these ideas even further and suggests that organisations can maximise their ability to adapt and innovate by creating a parallel operating system - a structure that works alongside the normal hierarchical structure of line management, job descriptions and efficiency.   He suggests that organisations create a 'volunteer army' where cross functional teams are created around projects that have participants from all levels and sections of the organisation.  The role of this parallel system is to generate innovative thinking through cross-pollination of ideas.  The ideas are then absorbed back into the main structure of the organisation in order to be implemented.    Kotter suggests that this 'innovative function' operates in parallel with the traditional system in order to not confuse roles and processes rather than attempt to integrate a more collective intelligence approach in the organisational hierarchy.  

My question is whether this allows the traditional structure to not adapt or innovate given that this function is delegated to the 'volunteer army'. I also wonder about the connections between the two systems and how ideas that are generated actually gain traction in the main operating system.  However I can also see the power of creating a 'people movement' within an organisation based on volunteerism, engagement, cross-pollination and the creation of useful ideas.  The concept reminds me of "The Starfish and the Spider" written about by Brafman and Beckstrom.  The Spider is an analogy for the organisational hierarchy with a head, and then legs that are analogous to line of accountability. The Starfish on contrast to this has a distributed intelligence with control and initiative coming from all parts of its body.   

The Starfish and the Spider (extract)

There book gives a huge range of cases of where starfish organisational structures are much more adaptive and competitive than spider type organisations in the same industries.   Personally, I can see the strengths and weaknesses of each organisational structure and hence I focus on creating a hybrid organisation which leverages the strengths of each system while minimising the weaknesses.   

The creation of hybrids such as this are the cutting edge of leadership and organisational development.