Sometimes the disturbance grabs headlines—an oil spill; a significant ethical breach; a failure in product or service quality. We respond by turning to our best crisis management skills. Yet, these big events began way upstream. They began with our failure to notice the significance of a slight lack of attention that reproduces like a virus. The result is breakdown. You can never direct, only disturb another living system. Suppose you could see the impact of that slight wobble, of deviating from your values. Suppose you could see the slight slip in discipline that opens the floodgates to poor performance? We believe you can. We can help you discern the incoherence in your organisation by developing a capacity for reflecting, learning and right action. We help you get below the surface.
The immediate task is to understand the source of the disturbance, to come together to reflect, to enquire, to see and understand the unintended consequences of our actions. The conversation expands to see the environment in which we operate, the forces that affect us, and that will matter into the future. If you’ve fallen from the crest of the wave, you discover the possibilities for riding it again. The work is not fixing what’s broken; it is creating what’s possible.
Every possibility raises questions. The right questions matter. They are rarely the obvious ones. Who asks the questions matters. We draw on the breadth and depth of intelligence and experience in the organization. We move beyond the “usual suspects” creating more penetrating questions. Meaning emerges as answers are pursued by a broad and diverse group. People discover their shared interests, and their impact on the whole system. People begin to shift their core identity from their role to the whole, from ‘how can I protect myself?’ to ‘how can I be of service?’ This collective discernment shapes strategic action. Action follows co-creation. People own what they help create.
Our experience has revealed that new possibilities and new ways of working are constantly developing, even before the strategic planning process is complete. As people work together across boundaries on questions that matter, they develop capacity to support collective discernment, and coherent action. Putting new ideas into practice happens automatically. The organisation changes itself in intelligent flow, not by force of will. Real change happens in real work.
As the organisation sets the strategy in motion, the key discipline is collective discernment. Are our actions congruent with our intentions? As unintended consequences arise, can we find their source? When the the wild card appears, can we engage with it in a way that supports who we are and who we need to be? Are we generating new learning and intelligence? The work is to create the capacity to respond to any challenge in a way that is congruent with where the organisation needs to go. We are what we do, not what we say we do.