The Shift

When it comes to transforming our organisations, good intentions will only get us to the starting line. The idea of “managing” change has largely failed us, yet we must find some means for effecting change if we are to realise our hopes for more effective organisations. For enhanced performance, sustained success and altogether better experiences of work for all concerned.

Flickr/C Slack

Flickr/C Slack

Like many others in the business change business, I share the view that the top-down approach is about as practical as a chocolate teapot in the desert. While top-down change may have worked for a very few organisations, I note an undeniable trend toward innovation, collaboration and inclusiveness. If we want to remain competitive and profitable, we’d do better to empower our people and unleash their creativity and enthusiasm.

The Interview

I don’t get interviewed that often, so why not interview myself?:

ThinkDifferent: Can you briefly discuss the “Marshall Model” that is an important component of your work?

FlowChainSensei: It’s a model that explains exactly what makes for more, or less, effective knowledge-work organisations. The Marshall Model’s primary focus is on helping change agentsunderstand how best to engage with any given organisation. Hence its subtitle – Dreyfus for the Organisation. It also has some utility as a diagnostic tool that can help organisations discover their hidden strengths and weaknesses in a range of areas. After the diagnosis, we work with clients on producing an action plan to leverage strengths. This plan is the “how” tool of The Shift. The two most critical areas are collective mindset, and the social dynamic. Strengths in these two areas can shift the entire organisation to a new level.

ThinkDifferent: How exactly does the Marshall Model work?

FlowChainSensei: An organisation gets to assess itself via a 25-dimension questionnaire. We generally recommend a half-day workshop for this, but we can also conduct a longer and more in-depth bespoke project too. Then we jointly build key recommendations and action plan for teams and the organisation as a whole. We monitor the impact of the changes and repeat the diagnostics in 6 to 9 months to see how scores have shifted.

ThinkDifferent: In your work, you indicate that the Marshall Model is built on Marshall Rosenberg’s “Nonviolent Communication”, which describes a four step process to improve the social dynamic; how members of an organisation engage with their work and with each other, as well as how the company makes progress. Can you explain further?

FlowChainSensei: I have been using the Nonviolent Communication process for several years as part of helping C-level executives and executive teams to shift from e.g. Analytic to Synergistic. I’ve realised that helping one person or one team at a time to shift was not good enough, not fast enough, and with a high risk of failure. I love big ideas and I love making them happen even more, so I decided that I needed to figure out how to help an entire organisation – many organisations, in fact – to shift at the same time.

So I’ve moved from the “what” to the “how.” I went back to my own experiences of running and working with software businesses, stretching back some 20 years. I’ve read over two thousand books and articles. I’ve looked at the data from more than fifty case studies, hundreds of interviews and collected additional data. I’ve managed to connect the dots and realised that many different dimensions. many interrelated memes, have to be balanced and managed together, holistically, as a living organism. I’ve grouped these factors into five key questions, drawing on the Marshall Model.

ThinkDifferent: Generation Y employees generally prefer a collaborative culture and, compared with older employees, tend to disapprove of an authoritative leadership style. What can executives and co-workers do to help make the transition easier for older employees?

FlowChainSensei: In a few years, Generation Y will form a majority of the workforce, and, indeed, they seem to prefer a collaborative Synergistic-type culture. In particular, they want to have purposeful work and flexible working patterns. But it’s not about age or generation, per se. Generation Y generally has a different take on what “work” means. A different mindset. More experienced people can often hold different, more Analytical assumptions about work. These Analytical-minded folks can be supported through communication; raising awareness; coaching and mentoring processes; focus groups; self-organized communities of interest; and training and development programs. But above all, through empathy and the Antimatter Principle – the latter another consequent of Nonviolent Communication.

– Bob