Monday, October 12, 2009

From ego-centric to eco-centric organizations

During my son's last soccer game, I was talking with a Mark Haase, a friend who is very active with the Minnesota Second Chance Coalition. This coalition advocates to support the second chances of those with criminal records. As we talked I mentioned an article by Otto Scharmer about leadership development that "ignites a field of inspired connection and action." In the article, Scharmer talks about the impact a leadership development program had on one participant:
One of them, a leader in a global multinational company, put it this way... "I no longer work for my company. I am working from my company." The difference between working "for" and working "from" is in the level of awareness and consciousness that moved from a single company (ego-­system-­centric) to the whole social and ecological context that this company operates in (eco-system-­centric).
The conversation made me realize that many people in the Second Chance Coalition also appear to also work just as much "from" their organization as they do "for" the organization where they are employed full-time. Of course, I think that working for the interests of your own employer is important. I think that honoring the commitments, values, and accountability of an organization is often a pre-requisite to acting in true collaboration. At the same time, a narrow focus on those interests can often get in the way of really forwarding the broader purposes and causes that are supposed to be driving an organization. Among nonprofits I work with, we can sometimes get lost in fighting for limited money and recognition. Even among "collaborations," we often get stuck in either fighting for control of the collaboration, or in not really developing a shared responsibility for the partnership. From my experience with the Second Chance Coalition, this group has created a kind of collaboration where several individuals work effectively out of their own organization, on behalf of a broader movement and purpose (or ecosystem, as Scharmer described it). I have seen this kind of ecosystem-centric leadership from Mark, who is based at the Council on Crime and Justice, Sarah Walker at 180 Degrees, Melissa Froehle at Minnesota Fathers and Families Network, Jonathan Maurer-Jones at Take Action Minnesota, Anna Meyer at the National Alliance on Mental Illness--Minnesota, and Lori Stee at Rebuild Resources. There are many others in the Second Chance Coalition who also operate with this kind of leadership.

I give thanks for the individuals who can operate with this kind of leadership, and also for their employers, who are able to support this kind of collaboration.

What do you think makes ecosystem-centric collaboration possible?

Friday, October 2, 2009

My "end of sabbatical" presentation

A couple days ago I had an open house and presentation about what I've learned about the "spirit of institutions" in the past year. I am very grateful for the feedback, support, and challenges from that those who gathered with me that evening. I also had a lot of fun. Some people who weren't able to be there requested a video of the presentation. Here is a 3 minute "trailer" for the presentation:

You can watch the full video (56 minutes) here. During the presentation, I used the following diagram to talk about four layers involved in the spirit of institutions (you can click on it for a larger version):

I "unveiled" my plans for integrating what I've learned from the sabbatical in my consulting business--supporting the spirit of organizations by facilitating strategic planning, program development, and leadership development. Here's a handout describing those services:

At the event I gave out these "Spirit of Institutions Awards," acknowledging some of the people I have learned from this past year. I asked people at the event to write down their questions and comments. I got a great list of questions, which I think will keep me busy for the next year. As I said in the presentation, I'm still very passionate about this topic. I'm going to continue to learn, share, and apply what it means to bring more of our own spirits to organizations, and how organizations can create cultures and structures that access deep sources of creativity and effectiveness. I welcome your dialogue and collaboration!