As you will have gathered by now, the approach I use, which has been the staple of my systems thinking and my business for a number of years is ‘Creating the Conditions for Change’. It is a creative interpretation of Stafford Beer’s viable system model, focussed on people and supporting the skills, talents and potential of every human being to flourish. The central strategy of my approach is learning and adaptability. Like the viable system model, I scale by repeating my approach at every systemic level (a person, a team, a service, an organisation, across organisations). I do not focus on ‘making a change’ but on creating a more supportive ecosystem from which change can emerge.
The 2 over overarching diagrams representing my approach are as follows:
Here are some more insights from my Creating the Conditions for Change action cards, which are heavily used in my workshops.
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At the level of the individual
- Informal reciprocation arrangements between individuals
- Building personal relationships with those outside of your immediate area of work
- Learning how to self-reference and supporting each other’s abilities to self-reference
- Let others know how you like to work and how you might work best with others
- Peer support each other and engage in reflective conversations and learning together, rather than competing with each other
- Be the system health check monitor
- Consider your identity – is it aligned with the purpose of your role and your organisation?
- Consider how the insights you bring can enhance the working environment
At the level of the team/ service/ organisation
- Purposefully creating reciprocation arrangements between teams
- Purposefully building relationships with teams with whom you could work in a complimentary way
- Supporting teams to self-reference or, where appropriate, self-organise
- Have an appropriate balance of specialist and generalist roles that give flexibility so that the team or service can be adaptable to change
- Purposefully build into your daily routines ways to engage in reflective conversations, positive challenge and learning
- Ensure appraisals of staff praise for flexibility, sharing, helping others, forming relationships and reflective practices
- Instigate monitoring practices that monitor for effective system characteristics
- Develop rotas/ work plans etc that bring humanity back into working practices
- Check your protocols do not disempower but support people if they want to empower themselves to take action
- Devolve decision making to the appropriate people
At the multi-organisation level
- Purposefully creating strategic reciprocation strategies across organisational boundaries
- Purposefully building mutually beneficial relationships with other organisations
- Developing structures that support departments, teams, cross organisational groups to self-reference and/ or self-organise
- Support those who understand and implement systemic leadership practices
- Monitor across organisational boundaries for system health
- Bring a level of humanity back into expected performance levels
- Ensure your policies do not hinder those who want to empower themselves to take action
- Devolve decision making to the appropriate service/ department/ team
Skills for some of the above are that of coach, learner, supporter, activist, prototyper, contextualiser and innovator.
The more we create the conditions for change at each systemic level, the more adaptability we might have when we do identify a change we want to make.
This is a small snapshot from only 10 of my 120 action cards that cover my approach. It took over 10 years of learning from using the viable system model in my work to convert elements of the model into ‘what people actually do when they enact this’. It is detailed, specific and my style is highly recognisable and appreciated by those with whom I use this approach.
I work both on site with groups to help them apply this approach to their own situation and I run workshops using a case study scenario to show how to apply the approach in detail.
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