No, I don’t think so. It can be so much more than that.
My approach is a creative interpretation of Stafford Beer’s viable system model. The way I work with it is to focus on what human beings actually do and I harness the potential of every person. The focus of this blog is delivery, or what those who know the viable system model call System 3.
Here is an extract from my booklet (this is a booklet that is given to attendees of my workshop, as part of the workshop kit):
‘This area of focus is about supporting the internal system to work effectively. We don’t just talk about resources and expected performance, though. We also aim to bring the humanity back into the work. One of the things we consider here is ensuring as many people as feasibly possible have been involved in decisions about how things will work and in setting goals, to prevent them feeling coerced. Remember that many people will also want their own professional values reflected in the work that they do. It is also important that once decisions have been made, you gain commitment to them.
Do not overload staff, though. They will never work at their best if they are in a state of frantic panic all day, every day. Aim for meaningful work for people. Make them feel good about themselves and make sure you consider their wellbeing. Trust your teams. Do not micro-manage. Remain hands off. Allow people to have their own peer to peer performance meetings. Let peers hold each other to account. Encourage them to share ideas to help the teams that are falling behind. Have a rolling host for the meetings, so no-one assumes ultimate power and/ or control. Give the teams the structure within which they can collaborate to enhance performance. Lead by example by demonstrating different behaviours and think about the language you use. Use language of encouragement that pushes people out of their comfort zone in a supportive way. Allow them to fail (within reason) and learn without embarrassment and punishment. Promote joint decision making throughout the system, so that effective prioritisation can occur. If you do have conflicts – and you are bound to have them – do not avoid them. Help people to use conflict creatively to listen to others’ points of view. Hold exploratory conversations, facilitate participation and listening.
Identify where there is confusion, conflict, disruption or chaos. These are not bad things but powerful indicators of places where you can intervene to make positive changes. They are opportunities. Do not complain about them, monopolise on them’.
The action cards
There are a number of action cards relating to this section. These are things we can do to enact this area of focus in reality. Here is an example of a few of them:
The skills required
My approach also outlines skills that are useful in enacting this section of my Systems Thinking Change Wheel. These are skills we could and should be advocating for and supporting in our organisations. Here is a taster of a few:
Each section of my wheel goes through a similar format to the above. I outline important areas of focus and the questions we can ask ourselves about those areas. I go on, in the booklet, to talk about these key points, giving rationale for why they are important. My suggestions, which have been part of my copyrighted workshop kit for a number of years, have come from over 10 years of working with the viable system model in practice and the learning I have gained along the way. The key focus is on the development and support of each individual and harnessing their skills and talents to the full, encouraging them to work authentically and without fear.
The action cards tell us the things we can actually do, at each systemic level of our system (person, team, service, department, organisation, place) to enact the points mentioned.
Putting all six areas together gives a very powerful way of Creating the Conditions for Change in our working ecosystems. The focus is on what we can actually do to make a difference.
All materials are copyrighted and part of my consultancy and training kit. If you build on any of my ideas, please act with integrity and reference them appropriately.